‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s “Feast of Unity” 1
THE ORIENTAL PASSENGER WAVED his arms on the steps of the train parked at Lackawanna station. He had to stall the train. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s attendants, “ten fez-wearing Persians,” as The New York Times put it, had already loaded their baggage on the train headed northeast from Montclair to West Englewood, New Jersey. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had not yet arrived. Missing the train could mean missing the event he had organized in nearby Englewood.
The distressed passenger pulled the bell rope, a job usually reserved for the conductor of the train to indicate an unplanned stop. Then one of the Persians – perhaps accidentally – knocked off the train conductor’s hat, distracting him. At last ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in his car, the train halted, and his friends hustled him into the coach …
New Jersey: The Unity Feast 2
On Friday [June 28], when He [Abdu’l-Bahá ] took a group of the friends by streetcar to the park in Montclair, He led them to the empty bandstand, and seated them saying, “‘factious persons … are trying to imprison Me again on My return to the Holy Land,.” When the friends suggested it would be better for Him not to return, He replied, “‘My Source is the Holy Threshold. What I have is from that Threshold. And ,my return, too, is to the same. Had to not been for His aid and assistance, would these people sitting on your right and left have had any care for you and Me … What are we and why are we showered with these favors? Where is Persia and where is America? …’”
‘My riches are of the Kingdom and not of this world.’ 3
The Master then got up and went towards the hotel. When He entered it, two wealthy ladies, guests at the hotel, were seated in the lobby. As soon as they saw Him they requested permission to be introduced to Him. The Master returned to the lobby a littler later and took a seat near them. They asked His purpose and He related to them a brief history of the Cause, something of the prison of ‘Akká and the spread of the fragrances of God. They remarked that He appeared to be very wealthy. He replied, ‘My riches are of the Kingdom and not of this world.’ They said that the signs of wealth were very evident. The Master then said, ‘Although I have nothing, yet I am richer than all the world.’ Then He spoke about true wealth and the transient nature of worldly affairs, citing passages from the Bible. During this discourse an elegant couple passed by and, hearing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s voice, stopped to listen to His explanations. The two ladies and the couple were so astonished and charmed that the believers were spellbound by their transformation. The ladies gave their names and addresses to Mr Edsall so that they might meet with the friends and be counted among the people of Bahá.
What can I say? Every morning and evening hearts are fascinated and souls attracted to the Abhá Kingdom by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is accomplished even though He had neither rest nor relaxation. He used to say, ‘If my happiness and spirituality could come to the fore and my mind be at rest, then you would see how hearts could be attracted and souls set ablaze.’
When He returned home, He found a multitude waiting for Him. The gathering was even larger than before, with both new and old friends coming from New York, Newark and Montclair. As it was the last evening of the Master’s stay, the hearts were especially attracted and the minds full of a unique spirit. He spoke on the need for the breaths of the Holy Spirit in the material world and about the education of humanity through divine power.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ‘Feast of Unity.’” 239 Days in America, 28 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/28/the-souvenir-of-abdul-baha/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 100. [return]
- ’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#section95 [return]