“Take Us Out on a Steamer and Drown Us” 1

Yesterday in Manhattan, June 13, 1912, the painter Juliet Thompson had visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to complete the third and final sitting for his portrait. As she waited to begin her work, she watched ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sitting in the window seat, listening quietly to the outpourings of a distressed young girl.

The girl couldn’t understand why her life was so full of trials, especially when, as she told him, she read the 91st and the 23rd Psalms every night.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded: “To pray is not to read the psalms, to pray is to trust in God and to be submissive in all things to Him… . Strong ships are not conquered by the sea, they ride the waves. Now be a strong ship, not a battered one.”

According to the capacity of the people and the exigency of the time 2

The beloved Master called these Servants of His Threshold into His presence, served us tea with His own hand and showered us with great kindness. After a prayer was chanted, He described the devotion, servitude, sincerity and trustworthiness of some of the early believers and expressed great kindness for Siyyid Muhammad-Taqí Manshádí. ‘His station and worth’, He said, ‘will be appreciated in the future.’

In the afternoon at a public meeting He explained the first verse of the Bible and spoke on the reality of the Manifestations of God and the effulgence of the Sun of Supreme Oneness. In the evening He spoke with majesty and grandeur about the days of the Blessed Beauty:

Although He was a prisoner, He pitched His tent with glory on Mount Carmel. Even outwardly His power and majesty were such that for five years the governor of ‘Akká wished to attain His presence but was not permitted to do so by Him; indeed, He took no notice of him.

Later He gave an account of His many addresses in churches and public gatherings in America, saying, ‘What I have spoken is according to the capacity of the people and the exigency of the time. “The father makes gurgling sounds for the newborn infant, although his wisdom can measure the universe.”’ The Master gave a detailed account of the signs of the Báb and of the Tablets of the Abhá Beauty, relating them to the exigencies of the time.

_Diary of Juliet Thompson_, 14 June 1912 3

The next morning, Thursday, though I went unusually early to the Master, He had already left the house. But Lua, Valíyu’lláh Khán, and I had a wonderful morning. Valíyu’lláh told us so many things.

“My father,” he said, “spent much time with the Blessed Beauty. The Blessed Beauty Himself taught him.

“One time when my father was in His room, Bahá’u’lláh rose and strode back and forth till the very walls seemed to shake. And He told my father that once in an age the Mighty God sent a Soul to earth endowed with the power of the Great Ether, and that such a Soul had all power and was able to do anything. ‘Even this walk of Mine’ said Bahá’u’lláh, ‘has an effect in the world.’

“Then He said that His Holiness Jesus Christ had also come with the power of the Great Ether, but the haughty priesthood of His day thought of Him as a poor, unlettered youth and believed that if they should crucify Him, His Teachings would soon be forgotten. Therefore they did crucify Him. But because His Holiness Jesus possessed the power of the Great Ether, He could not remain underground. This ethereal power rose and conquered the whole earth. ‘And now,’ the Blessed Beauty said, ‘look to the Master, for this same Power is His.’

  1. Knight, Annabel. “‘Take Us Out on a Steamer and Drown Us.’” 239 Days in America, 14 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/14/put-us-in-a-steamer-and-drown-us/. [return]
  2. ’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=4#section82 [return]
  3. 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&chapter=4. [return]