Juliet Thompson’s Inside View 1

THE YOUNG JAPANESE CHERRY trees on the northern shore of the Tidal Basin bloomed in coral pink. Washington in spring is a treat to the eyes of a painter. Juliet Thompson was born nearby, and although she has lived in Paris and New York she has returned — not to paint it, but to follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

She met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in ‘Akká in 1909, then was drawn to Thonon-les-Bains, France, when he was there in 1911, and now back to Washington. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá holds Juliet in high regard, not for her skill as a painter, (when she was 24, the New York Times called her “one of the most promising young artists of the day”), but for her sincerity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed of her: “Everybody is your friend.”

…[On] May 7, 1912, Juliet started to write her account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first trip to Washington. Her diary will become one of the most important historical sources about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. 2

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, May 8, after an early morning tea, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá packed, and caught the 9:00 A.M. train for a second visit to Washington, D.C. His companions begged Him to take a special compartment or a berth on the train; but He refused saying, “‘I spend money only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and I have never liked distinctions since my childhood.’”

After a twelve-hour train ride they arrived in Washington; but this time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused Mrs. Parsons’ invitation to stay in her home. Instead He rented an apartment at 1340 Harvard Street. From there He went to the Parsons’ home where there was an assemblage of people waiting for Him. 3

 Of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge 4

When the Master arrived in Washington DC He was driven to a house especially rented for Him at [1340] Harvard Street, which was near Mrs Parsons’s home. Joining us today were Dr Zia Bagdadi of Chicago, the son of Muhammad Mustafa Bagdadi, and Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab of Washington DC, both of whom were given the tasks of translating and writing.

The Master spoke today about the meaning of the prophecies and signs of the Day of the Manifestation of God:

Through their ignorance of these meanings people have always remained veiled from the manifestations of the bounties of Him Who is the Causer of Causes. Although in the divine scriptures mention is made of a heaven and an earth other than the physical heaven and earth, yet they have interpreted these signs literally and have deprived themselves of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then went to Mrs Parsons’s home where He spoke about the teachings on economics to the friends, who were extremely pleased with His explanation.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Juliet Thompson’s Inside View.” 239 Days in America, May 8, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/08/juliet-thompsons-washington/. [return]
  2. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983. https://bahai-library.com/thompson_diary. [return]
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 64. [return]
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section45. [return]