The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger 1
AT ABOUT MIDNIGHT ON December 8, 1898, dozens of pairs of eyes peered at Louisa Moore Getsinger through the darkness of a poorly-lighted coffee house near the beach where the ship had dropped them off. Lua was a long way from home: this was Haifa, an outpost of the Ottoman Empire on the shores of the Holy Land. A group of men sat cross-legged on the floor, sipping tea, and speaking Persian and Arabic. One of them nodded; the rest stared in amazement…
Everything was wrapped in secrecy so as not to arouse the suspicion of the authorities, because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was still a prisoner under house arrest. The group of fifteen pilgrims had been instructed to arrive in the Holy Land in groups of two. Lua and her husband, Edward, were the first to arrive.
They waited almost two days before receiving permission to proceed to ‘Akká, a five-mile journey on horseback along the sandy edge of Haifa Bay. Lua later wrote of the “violent beating of my heart.” When she first laid eyes on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá she ran to him, threw herself at his feet, and cried like a child.
“Arise and be of good cheer!” she remembers ‘Abdu’l-Bahá saying. He wasn’t one for outbursts of devotion, not to mention people prostrating themselves at his feet. Lua would stay in the Holy Land for four months, learn to speak Persian, and listen as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá instilled in her the need for women to arise and do “great things.”
New York City 2
While He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had already proclaimed the Faith in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other places, it was in New York that He stayed day after day, deepening those who came to Him, preparing them to develop new inner eyes, ears, hearts, and minds, bringing together interracial gatherings, trying to get the friends to see the spiritual qualities of each other as a reality.
Visit one another’s homes so that it may be the cause of promoting love and happiness. 3
After morning prayers and meditation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bestowed His favors upon the friends and well-wishers, especially on Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper and other friends from California, confirming and assisting them. While He conversed with the friends, He also wrote Tablets in response to petitions from the believers.
Among those who visited Him today were two eminent clergymen: one was Dr Grant, the minister of the Church of the Ascension, and the other Dr Ives of the Brotherhood Church of New Jersey. They have frequently visited the Master showing Him the utmost respect and reverence.
In the afternoon there was a meeting of the friends at the home of Miss Juliet Thompson. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged them to hold as many meetings as possible. ‘Promise each other’, He said, ‘to visit one another’s homes so that it may be the cause of promoting love and happiness.’ After His eloquent discourse, sherbet and sweets were served and then He left the meeting.
At the evening gathering at His house ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the degrees and station of creation, the maturity of the world and the magnitude of the Dispensation of the Ancient Beauty. The meeting lasted until dinner was ready. He sat at the table and invited all the friends from America to dine with Him. At this point a lady asked, ‘Up to the present time, not a single woman has appeared as a Messenger from God. Why have all the Manifestations of God been men?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:
Although women are equal to men in abilities and capacities, there is no doubt that men are bolder and physically more powerful. This distinction is also apparent in the animal kingdom, for example among pigeons, sparrows, peacocks and others.
_Diary of Juliet Thompson_, 12 July 1912 4
Percy [Stickney Grant] spent the morning with us, leaving us for a little while to return with bottles of ginger ale and grape juice which he mixed into a drink for us. When he finally left about noon I followed him out of the studio.
“What message have you,” I asked, “for the Master?”
He swore! It was a very mild swear, but he coupled the Master’s name with it, so I can’t repeat it.
“I believe you love Him,” he said fiercely, “more than anything on earth.”
“More than your art,” he added quickly.
“But of course.”
“Well, you shouldn’t. With your talent, Juliet, you could do immortal work. Do you never think of that?”
“I am thinking of His immortal work in us.”
“He has done it, in you!”
“Juliet, I have wanted to co-operate with Him. You know that. But I don’t believe He can do this thing alone.”
“I believe He is perfectly able to do it alone.”
“He changes the hearts and nobody else can do that. Well, what message shall I take to Him?”
“Tell Him with my greeting that I will come up some time to see Him, but I am out of town a great deal, most of the time, and–”
“Can’t you do any better than that?” I asked.
“I want to do something for His comfort and when Mr Flagler’s yacht comes back I want to take Him up the Hudson. I will be in town Friday, Juliet.”
“Then come up on Friday to see Him with me. Please come. You know I don’t often persist, but this time–forgive me if I do.”
“I think it is beautiful of you to persist in this instance, Juliet.” With the face of a martyr he kissed my hand. “I will come Friday.”
And, looking unspeakably miserable, he left me.
- Sockett, Robert. “The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger.” 239 Days in America, 12 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/12/lua-getsingers-odyssey/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110. [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=5#section109 [return]
- Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 338-339. https://bahai-library.com/thompson_diary&chapter=4#fnB90 [return]