Hand-in-Hand with the Indomitable Kate Carew 1
LAST WEEK, AS WE reached the midpoint of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey, someone asked me what aspect of the story had surprised me the most. What immediately came to mind was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s engagement with the issue of race. Living on this side of the Civil Rights era, it is perhaps impossible for any of us to truly understand the racial milieu of 1912, and to grasp how singular it was for a man from the Middle East to arrive on American shores and begin to enact change.
On further reflection, I realize that I have been continually surprised at how modern — or even American — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was. He had been in exile or prison for almost sixty of his sixty-seven years, yet here he was strolling through the streets of New York, fully in sync with the hectic pace, and often improvised character, of American life. This unlikely convergence is perhaps best exemplified in his interview with Kate Carew.
Green Acre 2
The next day, August 18, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke, the chairman sat weeping; and, as He ended in prayer, one lady stood up and fainted. Leaving that meeting, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stopped to hear a group that was singing. He said to them, “‘We listen always to your terrestrial music, now it would be well for you to give ear to our celestial songs.’”
17 August 1912, Talk at Green Acre, Eliot, Maine 3
Tonight I wish to speak upon the oneness of the world of humanity. This is one of the important subjects of the present period. If the oneness of the human world were established, all the differences which separate mankind would be eradicated. Strife and warfare would cease, and the world of humanity would find repose. Universal peace would be promoted, and the East and West would be conjoined in a strong bond. All men would be sheltered beneath one tabernacle. Native lands would become one; races and religions would be unified. The people of the world would live together in harmony, and their well-being would be assured.
The renewal of religious laws and the oneness of the Manifestations of God 4
It was a rainy day. The Master was occupied until noon counseling the friends to devote their time in teaching the Cause of God and advising them not to interfere in the affairs of the Green Acre Fellowship. Lunch was prepared by Mrs Kinney. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: ‘A little soup would have sufficed me. A variety of foods makes me ill.’
In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave an impressive talk to a gathering of liberal-minded visitors concerning the renewal of religious laws and the oneness of the Manifestations of God. A wonderful impression was produced on the whole audience as His melodious voice rang with majestic tones, moving the chairman of the conference to tears. As the Master was offering a prayer, one lady stood up and then fainted. When she regained consciousness she said that the power of the meeting overwhelmed her. It seemed to her that everyone in the audience was flying in heaven.
When the Master left this gathering, He met some people who were singing. He said to them, ‘We listen always to your terrestrial music, now it would be well for you to give ear to our celestial songs.’ After seeing to things in the kitchen, He came out to meet a number of the friends who had come to seek His advice on personal matters. He gave each His special attention. When Miss Edna McKinney, who had transcribed His addresses in English, came into His presence, He said to her, ‘Thou art a maidservant who in the Kingdom of God is among the near ones. I desire the confirmation and protection of the Abhá Kingdom for you.’ He also expressed extraordinary kindness for Mrs Parsons, Mrs Goodall, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Krug and Miss Juliet Thompson, who were not present. He advised Mrs Kinney not to wish for too rapid progress at once in the emancipation of women.
- Sockett, Robert. “Hand-in-Hand with the Indomitable Kate Carew.” 239 Days in America, 18 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/18/the-indomitable-kate-carew/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 125-126. [return]
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 264-265. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/19#639846345 [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=6#section147 [return]