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‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Love for The Poor

 

‘Abdu’l-Baha met with many groups of people, but He had a special love for the poor and downtrodden.

Poverty made ‘Abdu’l-Baha exceedingly sad and He wants us to become more sensitive to this issue:

‘When He reached the Occident, however, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá faced a condition which troubled Him greatly, because it was beyond His power to assuage the misery He saw constantly about Him.  Housed luxuriously at Cadogan Gardens, London, He knew that within a stone’s throw of Him were people who had never had enough to eat — and in New York there was exactly the same situation.  These things made Him exceedingly sad, and He said:  “The time will come in the near future when humanity will become so much more sensitive than at present that the man of great wealth will not enjoy his luxury, in comparison with the deplorable poverty about him.  He will be forced, for his own happiness, to expend his wealth to procure better conditions for the community in which he lives.”‘  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 67)

He hurt with them:

Many years later, Abdul-Bahá’s concern for the poor and suffering was described by May Maxwell in a letter describing the conversation that had taken place in their home: “I remember when the Master was in Montréal and there’d been a strike for months in Dublin, women and children starving and a generally desperate condition.  It affected me painfully; I had slept little and could barely eat, and had that terrific helpless feeling, not knowing what to do about it.  All this Sutherland told to the Master, begging Him to tell me that my attitude was all wrong; and as he spoke the Master turned very white and great beads of perspiration formed on His brow through His own agony in human sufferings; then He said, “If more people felt as your wife does, the world would not be in this dark and terrible state.”  (Earl Redman, Abdul-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 186-187)

His motto was “frugality for Himself, generosity for others”.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave freely of what He had — love, time, care and concern, food and money, clothing and flowers, a bed, a rug!  His motto appeared to be:  frugality for Himself, generosity for others.  Stories of the Master’s self-denial in favour of others’ well-being are legion.  He was ‘bountiful as the rain in His generosity to the poor…’  Because He and His family were rich in the love of God, they accepted material deprivation for themselves gladly.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 68)

Service to others was always the pattern of His life:

Service to God, to Baha’u’llah, to family, to friends and enemies, indeed to all mankind – this was the pattern of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life.  He wished only to be the Servant of God and man.  To serve – rather than being demeaning and unfulfilling – was honour, joy and fulfilment.  This motivated His entire day from Dawn to after midnight.  He used to say, ‘Nothing is too much trouble when one loves, and there is always time.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 104)

He knew them all and treated them with kindness and respect:

A door opens and a man comes out. He is of middle stature, strongly built. He wears flowing light-coloured robes. On his head is a light buff fez with a white cloth wound about it. He is perhaps sixty years of age. His long grey hair rests on his shoulders. His forehead is broad, full, and high, his nose slightly aquiline, his moustaches and beard, the latter full though not heavy, nearly white. His eyes are grey and blue, large, and both soft and penetrating. His bearing is simple, but there is grace, dignity, and even majesty about his movements. He passes through the crowd, and as he goes utters words of salutation. We do not understand them, but we see the benignity and the kindliness of his countenance. He stations himself at a narrow angle of the street and motions to the people to come towards him . . . As they come they hold their hands extended. In each open palm he places some small coins. He knows them all. He caresses them with his hand on the face, on the shoulders, on the head. Some he stops and questions. An aged negro who hobbles up, he greets with some kindly inquiry; the old man’s broad face breaks into a sunny smile, his white teeth glistening against his ebony skin as he replies. He stops a woman with a babe and fondly strokes the child. As they pass, some kiss his hand. To all he says, “Marhabbah, marhabbah” – “Well done, well done!”  So they all pass him. (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi)

As interested as ‘Abdu’l-Baha was in helping the individual, He had a bigger vision always in His mind:

Ruhiyyih Khanum said she had a dream one night: she dreamed that the dam had burst and that there was a great flood, She rushed down to the water’s edge to try to save someone, but the current swept them past. She reached out to try to grasp and save another. She grasped one by the hair, and, with great effort, brought that one to shore. Then she tried to reach another, but the current swept him by. She looked up at the side of the mountain, and there she saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who looked like a Prophet of God, with his white turban and flowing beard, with his back to the flood, working very hard. She rushed up the mountain side, grasped His sleeves and said, “Oh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, come and help me save some of these people who are drowning in the flood.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went right on, working very rapidly and said nothing. She grasped his sleeve again and said, “Oh ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, these people are drowning, come help me save some of these people who are drowning in the flood.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, without stopping his work turned to her with a smile and Said, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá is building the machine to stop the flood.” (That is what is taking place in the world today)  (Ruhaniyyih Ruth Moffett, Visiting the Bahá’í World, 1954-09  http://bahai-library.com/moffett_pilgrims_notes)

In many quotes He tells us how we are to behave to the poor, sick and downtrodden, and in this quote, He tells us we aren’t a “true Baha’i” if we neglect it:

Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!  This is the work of a true Bahá’í, and this is what is expected of him. If we strive to do all this, then are we true Bahá’ís, but if we neglect it, we are not followers of the Light, and we have no right to the name.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 80)

How many of us serve these groups?

How many of us can count people such as these as our friends?

How many of us can truly claim we have a right to the name Baha’i?

Because ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved these groups of people so much, there is much that has been written about them, so in the next series of articles I will be looking at what we can learn about how He treated them, to help us claim our name, to help us too draw closer to the poor and help them in practical ways, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did.

What’s been your experience showering love on the poor?  Post your comments below!

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Love for The Sick

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s kind heart went out to those who were ill.  If He could alleviate a pain or discomfort, He set about to do so.

Calling on the feeble and sick was a daily occurance:

Almost any morning, early, He may be seen making the round of the city, calling upon the feeble and the sick; many dingy abodes are brightened by His presence.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 81)

He never asked others to do something He wasn’t willing to do:

Lua Gestinger, one of the early Baha’is of America, tells of an experience she had in Akká. She had made the pilgrimage to the prison-city to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One day He said to her that He was too busy today to call upon a friend of His who was very poor and sick. He wished Lua to go in His place. He told her to take food to the sick man and care for him as He had been doing.
Lua learned the address and immediately went to do as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had asked. She felt proud that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had trusted her with some of His own work. But soon she returned to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in a state of excitement. “Master,” she exclaimed, “You sent me to a very terrible place! I almost fainted from the awful smell, the dirty rooms, the degrading condition of that man and his house. I left quickly before I could catch some terrible disease.” Sadly and sternly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gazed at her. If she wanted to serve God, He told her, she would have to serve her fellow man, because in every person she should see the image and likeness of God. Then He told her to go back to the man’s house. If the house was dirty, she should clean it. If the man was dirty, she should bathe him. If he was hungry, she should feed him. He asked her not to come back until all of this was done. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has done these things many times for this man, and he told Lua Getsinger that she should be able to do them once. This is how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught Lua to serve her fellow man.  (Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, Chapter 6)

One time ‘Abdu’l-Baha cancelled a meeting because one person was ill and could not go:

On pilgrimage May Maxwell came to realize that every word and every act of the Master’s had meaning and purpose.  The pilgrim party was invited to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá under the cedar trees on Mount Carmel where He had been in the habit of sitting with Baha’u’llah.  She recalled that ‘on Sunday morning we awakened with the joy and hope of the meeting on Mount Carmel.  The Master arrived quite early and after looking at me, touching my head and counting my pulse, still holding my hand He said to the believers present:  “There will be no meeting on Mount Carmel to-day…we could not go and leave one of the beloved of God alone and sick.  We could none of us be happy unless all the beloved were happy.”  We were astonished. That anything so important as this meeting in that blessed spot should be cancelled because one person was ill and could not go seemed incredible.  It was so contrary to all ordinary habits of thought and action, so different from the life of the world where daily events and material circumstances are supreme in importance that it gave us a genuine shock of surprise, and in that shock the foundations of the old order began to totter and fall.  The Master’s words had opened wide the door of God’s Kingdom and given us a vision of that infinite world whose only law is love.  This was but one of many times that we saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá place above every other consideration the love and kindness, the sympathy and compassion due to every soul.  Indeed, as we look back upon that blessed time spent in His presence we understand that the object of our pilgrimage was to learn for the first time on earth what love is, to witness its light in every face, to feel its burning heat in every heart and to become ourselves enkindled with this divine flame from the Sun of Truth, the Essence of whose being is love.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87)

People came to understand the wisdom of their sicknesses:

I was a child in Tehran when at the age of seven I contracted tuberculosis. There was no hope of recovery. The wisdom of this sickness became clear later. If I had not been ill, I would have been obliged to go to Mazindaran but because of this sickness I stayed in Tehran…..This was when the Blessed Beauty was in prison in Tehran. Therefore, I was afforded the honor of being in His company during His journey to Iraq. When the right time arrived, I suddenly became well, after the doctors had given up all hope of recovery.  (Stories Told by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 104)

There are many stories of Lua Getsinger. This one was told me by Grace Ober, who heard it from Lua herself. It happened on one of Lua’s several visits to Acca and Haifa when she and Abdu’l-Bahá were walking together on the beach. Lua dropped behind slightly and began fitting her small feet, into His much larger foot prints. After a few moments the Master turned to ask what she was doing. “I am following in your footsteps,”  said Lua. He, turned away and they walked on. A few moments later, He turned again, “Do you wish to follow in my foot steps?” He asked. “Oh, yes,” said Lua. They walked on – and Abdu’l-Bahá turned again, “Lua! Do you wish to follow in my foot steps?” His tone was louder and stern. “Oh, yes,” said Lua again. Then, the third time he stopped and faced her. “Lua!” it was almost a shout, “Do you wish to follow in My foot steps?” “Oh, yes!” said Lua for the third time – and with that, a great tarantula jumped out from a hillock of sand and bit her ankle. Abdu’l-Bahá saw this and paid no attention, turning away and again walking. Lua followed, still fitting her footsteps into His. Her ankle swelled, the pain became excruciating, till, finally, she sank down with the agony of it. Then Abdu’l-Bahá picked her up and carried her to the ladies quarters, where the Greatest Holy Leaf put her to bed. The agony increased. Lua’s temperature flamed; delirium set in. Finally, the Greatest Holy Leaf could stand it no longer and she implored Abdu’l-Bahá to heal her. He examined her carefully then laid His hands gently on her forehead. The temperature drained away, her head cleared she was healed. And it was only later that it was explained to her that she had been suffering from a strange and virulent condition of her blood which the bite of the tarantula had cured.   (Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories:  Stories of Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 41-42)

He Visited People in their Homes, even When Uninvited:

 Harry Randall, the brother of Loulie Mathews, was a man of wealth and affairs. He had been a classmate of Harlan Ober at Harvard and so, when Harlan learned of the Faith and became a Baha’i, he very soon gave the Message to Harry, only to discover that, busy and occupied as he was with his manifold affairs, Harry Randall’s interest went no farther than a polite and courteous response, which was far from satisfactory to Harlan. He persisted in trying to interest Harry further and when Abdu’l-Bahá was to come to Boston, Harlan grew more and more pressing: Harry must go to hear Abdu’l-Bahá speak; Harry must meet Him; Harry really owed it to himself not to miss this wonderful opportunity. Finally, Harry still uninterested, but courteously anxious to please this eager friend of his, agreed to go with Harlan to hear Abdu’l-Bahá.

Ruth – Harry’s wife would not be able to go with him since she was a semi invalid, in and out of sanitariums for tuberculosis a great part of the time. Just then she had come home from one of these hospitals but she was far too frail to do anything but rest quietly at home.

Harlan and Harry Randall went to the meeting together and after it was over, Harlan insisted upon taking Harry to meet Abdu’l-Bahá. Harry, still uninterested but always courteous, did as Harlan wished, and what was his astonishment when Abdu’l-Bahá warmly accepted an invitation to have tea the following afternoon at Harry’s home! An invitation Harry had in no way extended.

Appalled, Harry asked Harlan what on earth he should do about it? Harlan said. “Give a tea for Him what else can you do?” “But how can I? Ruth is ill. I’m busy. How on earth – ?”

Harlan laughed, “You don’t know Abdu’l-Bahá or you’d know there’s some sort of reason for this, and it’ll get done. You have a houseful of servants – let them brew a cup of tea for the Master and invite a few friends in to share it.” So this is what Harry did and the next afternoon when Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the lovely suburban home he found quite a group of people assembled on a wide verandah to receive Him.

Ruth Randall, delicate and lovely, was also there, seated in a far corner where she might be safe from any draft. And it was to her, ignoring all the others, that Abdu’l-Bahá strode, His white aba billowing with the swiftness of His tread; His beautiful eyes filled with light and love. Reaching her He bent above her, murmuring “My daughter My dear daughter” and lovingly He rested His hands on her shoulders Then He turned and, smilingly, met all the other guests.

The following day, Ruth had an appointment with her doctor, who had examined her the previous week and had said that it might be necessary for her to return to the sanitarium for further treatment. He would be sure after he had seen her again. Ruth went to this appointment fearfully she was so longing to remain at home, so very reluctant to be sent again to the hospital. The doctor examined her – and was amazed. What had she been doing? What could have happened to her? She was healed. There was not the least trace left of the tuberculosis. Of course, this was an experience that neither Harry nor Ruth could ignore, so it was the beginning of their long and glorious life-time of teaching and serving the Cause they came to love so well. (Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories:  Stories of Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 23)

Many dingy abodes were brightened by His presence:

Almost any morning, early, He may be seen making the round of the city, calling upon the feeble and the sick; many dingy abodes are brightened by His presence.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 81)

He spent time with the sick:

 His kind heart went out to those who were ill.  If He could alleviate a pain or discomfort, He set about to do so.  We are told that one old couple who were ill in bed for a month had twenty visits from the Master during that time.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43)

A man, ill with tuberculosis, was avoided by his friends — even his family was fearful and hardly dared enter his room.  The Master needed only to hear of it and ‘thereafter went daily to the sick man, took him delicacies, read and discoursed to him, and was alone with him when he died.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 44)

A dear friend of the family, Jinab-i-Munib, was taken seriously ill. When the boat stopped at Smyrna, Sarkar-i-Aqa (‘Abdu’l-Baha) and Mirza Musa carried him ashore, and took him to a hospital. The Master brought a melon and some grapes; returning with the refreshing fruit for him – He found that he had died. Arrangements were made with the director of the hospital for a simple funeral. The Master chanted some prayers, then, heartsore, came back to the boat.  (Lady Blomfied, The Chosen Highway)

He gave them the necessities of life:

When a poor and crippled woman was shunned on contracting measles, the Master, on being informed, ‘immediately engaged a woman to care for her; took a room, put comfortable bedding (His own) into it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed.  He went to see that she had every attention, and when she died in peace and comfort, He it was Who arranged her simple funeral, paying all charges.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43)

He would feed them with His own hands:

Bahiyyih Randall was only thirteen years old when she went to Haifa to see the Master.  She recalled that ‘there was a perfectly wonderful person who always sat on the right of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at dinner.  His name was Haydar-‘Ali and he had been a follower of Baha’u’llah and was so meek and so beautiful.  His hands would shake so that he could not eat.  He was such an old, old man, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would feed him with such tenderness.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 94)

He would cheer their hearts, saying:

If there is a sick person and one wishes to cure him, let one cause joy and happiness in his heart. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 417)

Joy is the best cure for your illness. Joy is better than a hundred thousand medicines for a sick person. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 417)

Here’s how He did it:

While in San Francisco, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited a black believer, Mr Charles Tinsley, who had been confined to bed for a long time with a broken leg.  The Master said to him:  ‘You must not be sad.  This affliction will make you spiritually stronger.  Do not be sad.  Cheer up!  Praise be to God, you are dear to me.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 44)

One day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked about the health of Mr Haney.  He told the Master quite frankly, ‘My body is always well, but I am receiving so much Spiritual Food while here that I fear I shall have Spiritual indigestion.’  But his Host assured him:  ‘No, you are going to digest it, for He who gives you the Spiritual Food is going to give you digestive power.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 143)

To Mrs Smith, a new Baha’i, who belonged to a distinguished Philadelphia family and who was suffering with a headache, the Master said, ‘You must be happy always.  You must be counted among the people of joy and happiness and must be adorned with divine morals.  In a large measure happiness keeps our health while depression of spirit begets diseases.  The substance of eternal happiness is spirituality and divine morality, which has no sorrow to follow it.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 129)

He showered love on people:

On the day I arrived at Haifa I was ill with a dysentery which I had picked up in the course of my travels. ‘Abdu’l-Baha sent His own physician to me, and visited me Himself. He said, “I would that I could take your illness upon Myself.” I have never forgotten this. I felt, I knew, that in making this remark ‘Abdu’l-Baha was not speaking in mere terms of sympathy. He meant just what He said.  Such is the great love of the Kingdom, of which ‘Abdu’l-Baha spoke so often and so much. This is a love that is difficult, almost impossible, for us to acquire — though we may seek to approximate its perfection. It is more than sympathy, more than empathy. It is sacrificial love.   (Some Warm Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Baha — by Stanwood Cobb http://bahaitalks.blogspot.ca/2012/06/some-warm-memories-of-abdul-baha-by.html#more )

He never judged:

I remember as though it were yesterday another illustration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s divine technique. I was not at all well that summer. A relapse was threatening a return of a condition which had necessitated a major operation the year before. My nervous condition made me consider breaking the habit of smoking which had been with me all my adult life. I had always prided myself on the ability to break the habit at any time. In fact I had several times cut off the use of tobacco for a period of many months.  But this time to my surprise and chagrin I found my nerves and will in such a condition that after two or three days the craving became too much for me.  Finally it occurred to me to ask the assistance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I had read His beautiful Tablet beginning:  “0 ye pure friends of God!” in which He glorified personal cleanliness and urged the avoidance of anything tending towards habits of self-indulgence. “Surely,” I said to myself, “He will tell me how to overcome this habit.”

So, when I next saw Him I told Him all about it. It was like a child confessing to His mother, and my voice trailed away to embarrassed silence after only the fewest of words. But He understood, indeed much better than I did. Again I was conscious of an embracing, understanding love as He regarded me. After a moment He asked quietly, how much I smoked. I told him.  He said He did not think that would hurt me, that the men in the Orient smoked all the time, that their hair and beards and clothing became saturated, and often very offensive. But that I did not do this, and at my age and having been accustomed to it for so many years He did not think that I should let it trouble me at all. His gentle eyes and smile seemed to hold a twinkle that recalled my impression of His enjoyment of a divine joke.

I was somewhat overwhelmed. Not a dissertation on the evils of habit; not an explanation of the bad effects on health; not a summoning of my will power to overcome desire, rather a Charter of Freedom did He present to me. I did not understand but it was a great relief for somehow I knew that this was wise advice. So immediately that inner conflict was stilled and I enjoyed my smoke with no smitings of conscience. But two days after this conversation I found the desire for tobacco had entirely left me and I did not smoke again for seven years.  (Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, p. 45)

He encouraged the care givers:

Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne, poetess, and her husband, Dr T. K. Cheyne, esteemed critic, lived in Oxford, England, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited them.  Dr Cheyne’s health and strength were waning.  ‘The beautiful loving care of the devoted wife for her gifted, invalid husband touched the heart of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.  With tears in His kind eyes He spoke of them’ to His companions on their way back to London, ‘”She is an angelic woman, an example to all in her unselfish love.  Yes, she is a perfect woman.  An angel.”’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 107)

He educated people on spiritual and material healing:

 Mrs Parsons was at the luncheon. Before she became a Bahá’í she had been a Christian Scientist, and now she brought up the question of mental suggestion as a cure for physical disease. The Master replied that some illnesses, such as consumption and insanity, developed from spiritual causes — grief, for example — and that these could be healed by the spirit. But Mrs Parsons persisted. Could not extreme physical cases, like broken bones, also be healed by the spirit?  A large bowl of salad had been placed before the Master, Who sat at the head of the table, Florence Khanum on His right.

“If all the spirits in the air,” He laughed, “were to congregate together, they could not create a salad! Nevertheless, the spirit of man is powerful. For the spirit of man can soar in the firmament of knowledge, can discover realities, can confer life, can receive the Divine Glad-Tidings. Is not this greater,” and He laughed again, “than making a salad?”  (The Diary of Juliet Thompson, p. 105-106)

 He made sure people had medical attention, hiring doctors and paying for them Himself:

 In ‘Akká, He daily sent a servant to inquire about the welfare of the ill, and as there was no hospital in the town, He paid a doctor a regular salary to look after the poor.  The doctor was instructed not to tell Who provided this service.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43)

‘Abdu’l-Baha believed in using medicine as well as spiritual healing. As there was no hospital in Akka, He hired a doctor by the name of Nikolaki Bey. He gave the doctor a regular salary to look after the very poor, and He asked the doctor not to tell who paid for the service.   (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)

But always, the poor turned to Abdu’l-Baha for help. For instance, there was a poor, crippled woman named Na’um who used to come to Abdu’l-Baha every week for a gift of money. One day, a man came running; “Oh Master!” he said, “Poor Na’um has the measles, and everybody is keeping away from her. What can be done?” Abdu’l-Baha immediately sent a woman to take care of her; He rented a room, put His own bedding in it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed. He went to see that she had every attention. And when she died in peace and comfort, He arranged a simple funeral and paid all the expenses Himself.” (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)

When a Turkish man, living in Haifa, lost his position, he, his wife and children were in desperate need.  They went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for help and were naturally greatly aided.  When the poor man became ill, again the Master stood ready to help.  He provided a doctor, medicine and provisions to make him comfortable.  When this man felt he was to die, he asked for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and . . . The Master arranged for the funeral and provided food, clothing and travel-tickets for the family to go to Turkey.  His sympathetic heart was as wide as the universe.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 66)

He cured some:

Lua was so traumatized by the idea of leaving him that in an attempt to delay, she deliberately went into the woods and walked through poison ivy.  Later, in bed with her feet terribly swollen: “Look at me, Julie,” she said.  “Look at my feet.  Oh, please go right back to the Master and tell Him about them and say: how can Lua travel now?”  I did it, returned to the Master’s house, found Him in His room and put Lua’s question to Him.  He laughed, then crossed the room to a table on which stood a bowl of fruit, and, selecting an apple and a pomegranate, gave them to me.  “Take these to Lua,” He said.  “Tell her to eat them, and she will be cured.  Spend the day with her, Julie.” O precious Lua – strange mixture of disobedience and obedience – and all from love!  I shall never forget her, seizing first the apple, then the pomegranate and gravely chewing them all the way through till Not even a pomegranate seed was left: thoroughly eating her cure, which was certain to send her to California.  In the late afternoon we were happily surprised by a visit from the Master Himself.  He drew back the sheet and looked at Lua’s feet, which by that time were beautifully slim.  Then He burst out laughing.  “See,” He said, “I have cured Lua with an apple and a pomegranate.”  …  So poor Lua had to go to California.  There was no way out for her.  (Earl Redman, Abdul-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 120-121)

Muhammad-Hadi was from Isfahan, and as a binder and illuminator of books he had no peer. When he gave himself up to the love of God he was alert on the path and fearless. He abandoned his home and began a dreadful journey, passing with extreme hardship from one country to another until he reached the Holy Land and became a prisoner. He stationed himself by the Holy Threshold, carefully sweeping it and keeping watch. Through his constant efforts, the square in front of Bahá’u’lláh’s house was at all times swept, sprinkled and immaculate . . . When his sweeping, sprinkling and tidying was done, he would set to work illuminating and binding the various books and Tablets. So his days went by, his heart happy in the presence of the Beloved of mankind. He was an excellent soul, righteous, true, worthy of the bounty of being united with his Lord, and free of the world’s contagion.  One day he came to me and complained of a chronic ailment. “I have suffered from chills and fever for two years,” he said, “The doctors have prescribed a purgative, and quinine. The fever stops a few days; then it returns. They give me more quinine, but still the fever returns. I am weary of this life, and can no longer do my work. Save me!”  “What food would you most enjoy?” I asked him. “What would you eat with great appetite?”  “I don’t know,” he said.  Jokingly, I named off the different dishes. When I came to barley soup with whey (ash-i-kashk), he said, “Very good! But on condition there is braised garlic in it.”  I directed them to prepare this for him, and I left. The next day he presented himself and told me: “I ate a whole bowlful of the soup. Then I laid my head on my pillow and slept peacefully till morning.”  In short, from then on he was perfectly well for about two years.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 68-69)

He couldn’t save everyone though:

One day a believer came to me and said: “Muhammad-Hadi is burning up with fever.” I hurried to his bedside and found him with a fever of 42 Centigrade. He was barely conscious. “What has he done?” I asked. “When he became feverish,” was the reply, “he said that he knew from experience what he should do. Then he ate his fill of barley soup with whey and braised garlic; and this was the result.”  I was astounded at the workings of fate. I told them: “Because, two years ago, he had been thoroughly purged and his system was clear; because he had a hearty appetite for it, and his ailment was fever and chills, I prescribed the barley soup. But this time, with the different foods he has had, with no appetite, and especially with a high fever, there was no reason to diagnose the previous chronic condition. How could he have eaten the soup!” . . . Things had gone too far; Muhammad-Hadi was past saving.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 68-69)

Sometimes He gave people a choice about whether to be healed or not:

One brief incident that made a lasting impression on Leroy illustrates this power of the Master. It occurred one evening when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the Masonic Temple [in Chicago]. More than a thousand people were present. The Ioas and Dealy families were very close, as it was through Paul Dealy that they had become Bahá’ís. The Ioases had brought Mrs. Dealy to the meeting, as she to her great distress was going blind.  Following the Master’s talk, as hundreds milled around Him, she told her son he should have an interpreter ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak to her. Leroy, who was sitting next to her, remembers the son saying that would be impossible with all the people present. But she insisted and he went to pass on her request. The interpreter indicated she should sit on the aisle where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would leave. As the Master went up the aisle He stopped and greeted her lovingly. She reached for His hand and said, “’Abdu’l-Bahá, please put your hand on my forehead, and I know that I will see.‟ “Yes, my daughter,‟ He answered, “you will see. But you will have to choose. You may have your spiritual sight or your physical sight—which do you desire?‟ She said with emotion, “’Abdu’l-Bahá, that is no choice! I would be blind a thousand years before I would give up my spiritual sight!‟ “Well said, my daughter, well said,‟ replied the Master as He touched her shoulder and continued on His way out. Sitting next to her on that bench, Leroy realized with a chill how in that moment she had decided on her destiny. She was steadfast.  (Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Cause of God by Anita Ioas Chapman, pp. 25-26)

Thomas [Breakwell] wrote to the Master, happily saying that, if he were Persian, he would have chosen to be a martyr. He had been admitted to hospital, and was in the tuberculosis ward. But news from the young man continued to reach ‘Akká, conveying an ever-increasing joy, despite his suffering. Sometimes, when Dr. Khan read Thomas’s letters to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Master would remain silent. Dr. Khan knew that the ‘mysterious communion between the lover and the Beloved had no need of the spoken word.’ At other times, the Master would ask his secretary simply to convey His greetings. Although Thomas could have asked for healing, he never did, but prayed always for greater suffering. The more his illness consumed him, the greater his joy became. Hippolyte Dreyfus, who was able to visit Thomas in hospital, relates how the young Englishman spoke to the other patients enthusiastically about the Bahá’í Faith. Some of his listeners were upset by his message, others criticized it. But Thomas, unperturbed, maintained his tranquility and told them that he was not going to die, but was merely departing for the Kingdom of God, and that he would pray for them in heaven. Writing of his pain, he said: ‘Suffering is a heady wine; I am prepared to receive that bounty which is the greatest of all; torments of the flesh have enabled me to draw much nearer to my Lord. All agony notwithstanding, I wish life to endure longer, so that I may taste more of pain. That which I desire is the good-pleasure of my Lord; mention me in His presence.’ (Lakshiman-Lepain – The Life of Thomas Breakwell, p. 37-45)

Finally, He gave them to God:

At one time Juliet Thompson asked the Master about His daughter, Ruha Khanum, who had been very ill.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘I have put her in the hands of the Blessed Perfection, and now I don’t worry at all.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 162)

How has this given you some new ideas of how you can help the sick?  Post your comments below.

Helpful Spiritual Qualities When Dealing with Trauma

 

What are the requisite spiritual qualities that must be developed?

See them as equals:

In the non-Baha’i world, there is a rigid professional boundary between service provider and client which doesn’t exist in a Baha’i conception of service: 

An important element of the Bahá’í community’s conception of service involves raising up protagonists within a population to take charge of their own spiritual, intellectual, and social development. In this light, a rigid categorization of “service provider/service recipient” has little relevance in these activities, which aim to strengthen community bonds amongst all who are associated with them.  (NSA of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Framework and Guidelines for the Implementation of Child Protection Policies, July, 2012)

 Respond lovingly

The person will need support and time to recover from the traumatic event and regain emotional and mental stability.

Even when someone is feeling better, they may still be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or an image, sound, or situation that reminds you of the traumatic experience.

. . . draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need.  (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 8)

The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual.  (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 41)

Call on families to be loving and unified:

If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp.144-145)

Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day…  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p.279)

I think sometimes God sends us difficult people and difficult situations, so that we can develop love and patience:

Great love and patience are needed towards new believers, especially those who have come from very troubled backgrounds.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer July 22, 1981)

Let them know they’re getting better

Even if this isn’t true, it can still be a turning point!

If a doctor consoles a sick man by saying, “Thank God you are better, and there is hope of your recovery,” though these words are contrary to the truth, yet they may become the consolation of the patient and the turning point of the illness. This is not blameworthy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp.215-216)

Believe it yourself:

When you make every effort to cure someone, and they are sure of receiving a cure, this produces an excitement of the nerves which will become the cause of the recovery:

One [of the spiritual kinds of healing] results from the entire concentration of the mind of a strong person upon a sick person, when the latter expects with all his concentrated faith that a cure will be effected from the spiritual power of the strong person, to such an extent that there will be a cordial connection between the strong person and the invalid. The strong person makes every effort to cure the sick patient, and the sick patient is then sure of receiving a cure. From the effect of these mental impressions an excitement of the nerves is produced, and this impression and this excitement of the nerves will become the cause of the recovery of the sick person.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp.254-255)

 Be patient and understanding 

Be patient and understanding. Healing from emotional or psychological trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different.  Don’t judge your loved one’s reaction against your own response or anyone else’s.

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October 1994)

In our impatience for people to “get over it”, sometimes we might want to say they need to “forgive and not judge”.  Of course this is true!  It’s just not helpful, nor does it take into account the time needed to heal.

The House of Justice wrote this to a friend who was struggling with the judgements of the Bahá’í community around her:

Experience seems to suggest that the healing process can often be a lengthy and stressful one requiring the close guidance and help of trained professionals. Advice given by well-meaning believers to the effect that you should seek to transcend psychological problems does not qualify as competent advice on what is essentially a medical issue.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October, 1994)

For more information, please see Healing Has its Own Timetable 

Sometimes people need time away from the Baha’i community while they heal.  The House of Justice has told us that the healing done now is an investment that will enable them to better serve in the future:

You have asked what to do since psychological problems sometimes make it difficult for you to participate in community events and Assembly meetings. In striving to follow the Teachings and the best medical advice you can obtain, you will want to remember that the healing you do now is an investment that will enable you to better serve in the future. Ideally, you would combine concentrating on healing with avenues of service which do not interfere with it.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October, 1994)

 Give encouragement:

Assemblies in particular are charged with the responsibilty of giving encouragement to women:

The members of the House of Spirituality must give unlimited encouragement to women.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdul-Bahá, v2, p.336)

For more information, please see How Do We Create a Climate of Encouragement?    and   Encouraging Universal Participation  

Trauma survivors need understanding, compassion and support.

5 Reasons To Return To Innocence

When we are born into this world we arrive in a state of utmost purity and innocence free from fears, resentment, prejudice, lust, etc just like a baby. However, as time passes and as we grow we experience life. A lot of good times but also bad times. Because of the behaviour of some people and/or unfortunate events in life our innocence is taken away from us. Our hearts and our minds become corrupted with fear, feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, resentment, shame, guilt, etc. Today I share 5 reasons why it’s so important to return to innocence & purity.

Till The Last Breath – Mr. Furutan’s Last Act of Service

By Irina Musuc
With permission

I believe that life is a series of instances, occasions, encounters that shape our personalities and form our path. And some encounters leave such profound mark in the soul, that it can change the whole perception of one’s existence.
I had such an encounter on 26th of November 2003 on the Day of the Covenant. It happened during a 9 day Baha’i Pilgrimage in Haifa and it became the most memorable and distinctive moment of my pilgrimage, a spiritual lesson and a lodestar, which enlightened the rest of my life.

That day our group went to Akka. There we saw the Greatest Prison, where Baha’u’llah and members of His family were kept, the house , in which Baha’u’llah revealed the Most Holy Book Kitab-i-Aqdas and many other Baha’i Holy Places. I was overwhelmed and full of impressions. But that wasn’t all for that day, as in the evening at the Pilgrims Reception Center we were supposed to meet with an outstanding person, the Hand of the Cause of God – Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan.

The meeting was supposed to start at 6 p.m. It wasn’t our first meeting with him. First time I saw him on the first day of pilgrimage – 24th of November. He gave a marvelous speech and promised us to come every other day. He said that before he used to come every day to meet with pilgrims, as Shoghi Effendi mentioned, that pilgrims were the guests of Baha’u’llah. But now doctors recommended him to come once in two days because of the age. No wonder! Mr Furutan was 98 years old.

I have to say that I heard about this unique person long before my pilgrimage. Once I heard one Baha’i sharing a conversation Mr. Furutan had with a group of pilgrims. When one of them asked him what he was afraid of most of all in life, he asnwered that he was afraid of dying comfortably in his bed and not being steadfast in the Cause of God till the last minute of His life. It was an amazing thing to hear, knowing how much Mr. Furutan has suffered and how faithfully he was serving the Baha’i Faith throughout his entire life.

Now you can imagine our disappointment, when we were told, that Mr. Furutan wouldn’t come. Then I remembered that when he first came to meet with pilgrims, he looked very weak and frail. It seemed that life giving energy was slowly leaving that fragile body. Of course, the first thing I thought was that he was not able to come because of the state of health.

Many pilgrims decided to go to their hotels, but some of us, quite few indeed, decided to stay, hoping that the meeting would still take place. How happy we were when ten minutes to six we were told that Mr. Furutan would come. As soon as this unique person entered the room, it became evident what efforts it took him to come here. He looked very pale and even transparent. It seemed that he no longer belonged to this earthly realm. However, notwithstanding the weakness, he went up the stage by himself andbuckled the microphone to his suit.

Mr. Furutan’s speech was dedicated to the Duty of teaching the Faith. First he read the quotation of Baha’u’llah from the “Gleanings”:

“Say: Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Baha, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. Such a deed is acceptable only when he that teacheth the Cause is already a firm believer in God, the Supreme Protector, the Gracious, the Almighty. He hath, moreover, ordained that His Cause be taught through the power of men’s utterance, and not through resort to violence. Thus hath His ordinance been sent down from the Kingdom of Him Who is the Most Exalted, the All-Wise.”

Then the Hand of the Cause shared with us his understanding of the word duty. As an example, he told us a story. “It happened in Russia, when Nikolai the II was the tsar. One day Nikolai the II was walking in the courtyard of his palace. He noticed the guard, who looked very ill, his face was red and swollen. He approached him and asked from what illness he suffered. The guard answered that he had malaria. Then the tsar told him that he needed special care and that he could go home. But the guard replied that he was not able to leave his post without the senior officer’s permission and that it was his duty to guard the palace till the last breath. Then Nikolai the II took his rifle and told him, that in such case, he would replace him at his post till the senior officer came and he would inform him that he personally let the guard go and that he fulfilled his duty. “This is what duty means” – Mr.Furutan said. “The reason I came here today is because it was my duty to come. And if it is a duty – you have to fulfill it.”

Many people know that Mr. Furutan lived and studied in Russia and that he lovedspeaking Russian whenever he had chance. Fortunately, all the Russian-speaking pilgrimswere present at the gathering. And when he was telling the story, he often translated some words into Russian, and especially, the words “duty” and “responsibility”. When the Hand of the Cause finished his speech, he immediately approached the Russian-speaking pilgrims and asked in Russian: “Friends, did you understand what I said? Did you understand what is duty?”

These words were almost the last words in his life, as in few minutes he passed away. He died before our eyes, peacefully and with dignity, on the pilgrims’ hands, whom he appreciated so much. His life and his passing became for me an example of true servitude, steadfastness in the Covenant, and faithfulness to the Cause of God. By his own life he showed us what duty was and how we had to fulfill it till the last breath!

Newsletter – on Heroes

Welcome to the Month of Honor 172

In this issue – Heros

Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

Bahá’i Chronicles – Providing Direct Access To The Heroes And Heroines Who Have Recognized And Served The Bahá’í Faith

Bruce Mathew, Knight of Baha’u’llah

Haji Mirza Haydar Ali – The Delight of Hearts

Hand of the Cause Clara Dunn

Herald of the Covenant – a Tribute to William Harry Randall

Sandy Parr – Just a Girl from Watts

May Maxwell – Mother of the Canadian Baha’i Community 

Mulla Husayn’s Childhood and Youth  

Remembering Dorothy Baker

Socrates (Universal House of Justice)

Dr. Susan Moody  A Dedicated Pioneer Doctor

Tahirih and Women’s Suffrage (Universal House of Justice)

Tahirih – The Force of a Pure Heart  

The Wife of the Bab Khadijih Bagum – A Tribute to Suffering

Thomas Breakwell

What Drove Martha Root?

Who Are the Knights of Baha’u’llah? 

Featured Story

Mr. Furutan’s Last Few Minutes

This is a remarkable description of Mr. Furutan’s last minutes of his mortal
life. It is truly amazing …

I would like to share with you the most memorable and distinctive moment of my pilgrimage, which became a spiritual lesson and a lodestar, which enlightened the rest of my life. It happened 26th of November, on the Day of Covenant … In the evening at the Pilgrims Reception Center we were supposed to meet with the Hand of the Cause of God – Mr. Furutan. The meeting was appointed for 6 p.m.

It wasn’t our first meeting with him. First time I saw him on the first day of pilgrimage – 24th of November. He gave a marvelous speech and promised us to come every other day. He said that before he used to come every day to meet with pilgrims, as Shoghi Effendi mentioned, that pilgrims were the guests of Bahá’u’lláh. But now doctors recommended him to come once in two days because of the age. He asked us to come on Wednesday with children, as he was going to speak about teaching the Faith.

Now you can imagine our disappointment, when we were told, that Mr. Furutan wouldn’t come. Then I remembered that when he first came to meet with pilgrims, he looked very weak and fragile. It seemed to me that his energy was slowly disappearing. Of course, the first thing I thought was that he was not able to come because of the state of health.

Many pilgrims decided to go to their hotels, but some of us, among whom were Nabil and me, decided to stay, hoping that the meeting will still take place. How happy I was when ten minutes to six we were told that Mr. Furutan would come. As soon as this unique person entered the room, it became clear what efforts it took him to come here. He looked very pale and even transparent. It seemed that he no longer belonged to this world. However, notwithstanding this weakness, he went up the stage and put the
microphone.

Mr. Furutan’s speech was dedicated to the Duty of teaching the Faith. First he read the quotation of Bahá’u’lláh from the “Gleanings”

“Say  Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Bahá, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. Such a deed is acceptable only when he that teacheth the Cause is already a firm believer in God, the Supreme Protector, the Gracious, the Almighty. He hath, moreover, ordained that His Cause be taught through the power of men’s utterance, and not through resort to violence. Thus hath His ordinance been sent down from the Kingdom of Him Who is the Most Exalted, the All-Wise.”  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 278)

Then the Hand of the Cause shared with us his understanding of the word duty. As an example, he told us a story. It happened in Russia, when Nikolai the II was the tsar. One day Nikolai the II was walking in the courtyard of his palace. He noticed the guard, who looked very ill, his face was red and swollen. He approached him and asked what illness he had. The guard answered that he had malaria. Then the tsar told him that he needed special care and that he could go home. But the guard replied that he was not able to leave his post without the senior officer’s permission and that it was his duty to guard the palace till the last breath. Then Nikolai the II took his gun and told him, that in such case, he would replace him at his post till the senior officer came and he would inform him that he personally let the guard go and that he fulfilled his duty. “This is what duty means” – Mr.Furutan said. “The reason I came here today is because it was my duty to come. And if it is a duty – you have to fulfill it.”

Many people know that Mr. Furutan lived and studied in Russia and that he still loves to speak Russian and loves those who speak Russian. Fortunately, all the Russian-speaking friends were present at the gathering. And when he was telling the story, he often translated some words into Russian, and especially, the words “duty” and “responsibility”.   When the Hand of the Cause finished his speech, he immediately approached the Russian-speaking pilgrims and asked in Russian  “Friends, did you understand what I said? Did you understand what is duty and responsibility?”These words were almost the last words in his life, as in few minutes he passed away.

He died before our eyes, peacefully and with dignity, on the pilgrims’ hands, whom he appreciated so much. His life and his passing away became for me an example of true servitude, steadfastness in the Covenant, and faithfulness to the Cause of God. By his own life he showed us what duty is and how we have to fulfill it till the last breath!
(Irina Musuc, via Dennis Chee in Malaysia)

Featured Prayer

Prayer for the Hands of the Cause

Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of fortitude hath shone forth and the truth hath been established that the authority to choose rests with God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Unconstrained, through whom the ocean of bounty hath surged and the fragrance of the gracious favors of God, the Lord of mankind, hath been diffused.  We beseech Him—exalted is He—to shield them through the power of His hosts, to protect them through the potency of His dominion, and to aid them through His indomitable strength which prevaileth over all created things.  Sovereignty is God’s, the Creator of the heavens and the Lord of the Kingdom of Names.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 83)

 

 

Featured Book

There are lots of books written about heroes of the Faith, but I’d like to introduce you to three of them, you may not have come across.

Champions of Oneness – Louis Gregory and His Shining Circle

 

Champions of Oneness: Louis Gregory and His Shining Circle by Janet Ruhe-Schoen, tells the story of the indomitable African-American lawyer who pioneered the integration of the Baha’i community and its surroundings during the first half of the 20th Century, traveling fearlessly through the deep south, braving stubborn prejudice, riots, lynchings, threats from the Klu Klux Klan and a myriad other obstacles.  The activists detailed in the book, including Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, Roy Williams and Zia Bagdadi, and other men and women, black and white, from Iran as well as North America, championed the central principal of the Baha’i Faith  that of oneness. This book truly brings these early pioneers to life and provides an excellent glimpse into the challenges of early Bahá’ís working to overcome racism.

To read an interview with the author 

To hear the story of his life, set to rap music

 

For more information and to buy the book

 

Compassionate Woman – The Life and Legacy of Patricia Locke

 

Compassionate Woman  The Life and Legacy of Patricia Locke by John Kolstoe is the biography of a woman of Lakota and Chippewa heritage, who was the winner of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1991 for her work to save tribal languages that were becoming extinct throughout the United States.

This fascinating biography of Patricia Locke, who was given the name Compassionate Woman, gives us a glimpse into the life of someone dedicated to restoring justice and helping those in need.

Her life of service began in Anchorage, Alaska, when she founded a community center aimed at assisting Native Americans, Eskimos, and Aleuts—who had moved to the city from villages—to cope with some of the problems they encountered. She then went on to work for the Western Interstate Counsel for Higher Education, where she focused much of her energy on establishing colleges on reservations. She was particularly concerned with improving education for American Indians and worked hard toward advancing education on reservations so that Native American culture and language could be woven into the curriculum.

In addition to the MacArthur Fellowship, Patricia Locke was the first American Indian to serve as a senior officer on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of the United States, and she was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Patricia Locke is not a well-known American or even Bahá’i heroine, yet her legacy is an inspiration of what one person can accomplish when they stay true to their values and have strong convictions. She was strong and unafraid of speaking out to challenge authority to bring about social justice for Native Americans.  Her life story is a great example of what true humility looks like. This book will help her become a role model for many girls and women for years to come.

To read a review

To read a reflection by her son 

To read more about her

For more information and to buy the book  

 

Manijeh, Not Only A Change Of Name

 

Manijeh Saatchi, the author of this book, was a custodian of the House of the Báb in Bushehr, and her story is being told for the first time.  It’s a story of love, belief and triumph, as it describes a degree of hardship to which very of us are subjected.

She describes how her beloved husband died an untimely death due to an assault instigated by those opposed to his religious beliefs. Her children were exposed to constant humiliation and discrimination, their education interrupted or terminated.  Their family assets were confiscated by unscrupulous officials, with no legal justification or redress. Members of her family were reduced to poverty through the operation of schemes designed to deprive them of professional opportunities and income.

Despite being incredibly moving, this is not a book of lamentation, but rather a record of the power of the human spirit to withstand even the most perfidious oppressors and to emerge triumphant from persecution. It conveys a message of hope and optimism for all who value truth and who yearn for justice to prevail.

For those of us who live in the West, where we can only glimpse religious persecution in a detached sort of way, Manijeh’s autobiography offers us a personal encounter of what it looks like for the Bahá’ís in Iran even today.  Her story will give you a glimpse into a life that may very well inspire you to live yours more fully.

For more information

To buy the book  

Featured Videos

The Life & Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum – A Talk by Dr. Janet Khan

Dr. Janet Khan, author of ‘The Prophet’s Daughter – The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, gives a talk on her extraordinary life and legacy.  Bahiyyih, the daughter of Baha’u’llah, was given the title “the Greatest Holy Leaf”.  She contributed significantly to the early years of the Faith. Her steadfastness during a critical period in the history of the Faith and during her appointment as the head of the Baha’i Faith testifies to the greatness of her character.

The Greatest Holy Leaf is a superb role model to men and women everywhere who seek creative ways to deal with the forces of today’s society.

 

Awakening:  The Babi Women of Nayriz

This video describes the heroism and suffering of the Bábí and Bahá’í women of Nayriz through three violent upheavals in 1850, 1853, and 1909.  It brings to life, in words and images, the heroism and suffering of the early believers and shows the ultimate victories that grew from their sacrifices.

To watch the video  

If you enjoyed the video, you’ll want to read the book! 

To read a review of the book  http://www.awakeningnayriz.org/AwakeningReviewBobHarris.pdf

 

Enoch Olinga, African Hand of the Cause

Recollections of Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga – by Hooper Dunbar

Enoch Olinga of Uganda, was one of the first Africans to accept the Baha’i Faith, a Knight of Baha’u’llah (Togo and Ghana) and the youngest and the only African Baha’i Hand of the Cause.  He was fluent in six languages, trained as an economist and published two books.  His dedication to the service of humanity took him throughout Africa, as well as to India, Southeast Asia, Australasia, the Pacific islands, the Americas and Europe.  Despite all his accomplishments, he is most remembered for his radiant joyful spirit, true happiness, certitude, and nobility.

 

Featured Coach

Danielle-Isabella

Danielle-Isabella is a Wellness Coach, Yoga Teacher, Integrative Counselor & Transformative Educator who is passionate about teaching authenticity, mindfulness and creativity as she helps her clients believe in themselves, so they can

  • know themselves well
  • eel present and grounded in everyday life
  • enter and develop friendships and relationships from a space of worthiness and nobility
  • pursue the things they love

Most people find her because they’re experiencing challenge around an area in their life, but they quickly learn that this is an opportunity into a profound level of healing that they never knew possible.

She helps us see that the challenges we have in life have little to do with our partner, work or family, but often provides an opportunity to heal deep-seated false beliefs about self-worth. Her approach is often described as low-key, gentle and encouraging, as she helps people believe in themselves and in their nobility.

To read more on her website 

To read her blog

Featured Business

 

Rannva Simonsen, Designer

Rannva Simonsen is an architect and designer with a passion for high quality fur clothing. Inspired by traditional Arctic shapes, textures and technology, her sealskin and fur outerwear creates an exciting alternative in winter clothing. The RANNVA brand reflects exquisite design, quality workmanship and attention to detail. Each item is unique.

Her work is widely distributed throughout Canada and as far away as USA, Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom, Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Israel, Korea and Japan.

She also runs a “Sewing for Survival (and Success)” program which enables and empowers women of the Arctic to make money and improve their lives through the creative use of their indigenous skills. These women take pride in creating unique designs inspired by their cultural heritage and in producing quality products. All items are handmade. Materials include wool duffel, leather, sealskin, beads, bone and antler. Some are decorated with colorful hand embroidery.  Her goal is to strengthen the Nunavut economy through jobs based on traditional knowledge. She tries to use 100% Nunavut sealskins and 100% Nunavut labour.

To visit her homepage

To see her entire collection

To follow her on Facebook

Thanks to all who write in!  Your encouragement really keeps me going!  

By the way, I accept donations!  If you like the materials in these newsletters and on my website, please consider making a donation. Your help and feedback is GREATLY appreciated, to defray the costs of making these available to you!!!  There’s a PayPal “Donate” Button at the bottom of every page on my website. Thank you!!!

See you next month!  Hope it’s a month filled with honorable actions!