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The Visit To Bristol






'Abdu'l-Baha spent the week end of September 23rd to 25th, at the Clifton
Guest House at Clifton, Bristol.

On the first afternoon, while driving, he expressed much interest in rural
England, marvelling at the century-old trees, and the vivid green of the
woods and downs, so unlike the arid East. Though it is autumn it seems
like spring, he said. The houses with their little plots of ground,
suggested a quotation which 'Abdu'l-Baha gave from Baha'u'llah's writings
in which the latter alludes to each family having a house with a piece of
land. 'Abdu'l-Baha likened the country to the soul and the city to the
body of man, saying, The body without the soul cannot live. It is good,
he remarked, to live under the sky, in the sunshine and fresh air.
Observing a young woman who rode by on horseback with her hair flying free
and several who bicycled past on their bicycles unattended, he said, This
is the age of woman. She should receive the same education as her brother
and enjoy the same privilege; for all souls are equal before God. Sex, in
its relation to the exigencies of the physical plane, has no connection
with the Spirit. In this age of spiritual awakening, the world has entered
upon the path of progress into the arena of development, where the power
of the spirit surpasses that of the body. Soon the spirit will have
dominion over the world of humanity.

In the evening greetings were cabled to the Baha'is of Tihran informing
them of 'Abdu'l-Baha's presence in Bristol. He sent his love and wished
them to know that he was well and happy with the Clifton friends. This was
sent in reply to a cablegram previously received from Tihran
congratulating the people of the Guest House on his prospective visit.

Later on a general reception was held, ninety people coming to meet
'Abdu'l-Baha who spoke to them with impressive earnestness.

'Abdu'l-Baha said, You are very welcome. I have come far to see you. I
praise God that after forty years of waiting I am permitted at last to
come and bring my message. This is an assembly full of spirituality. Those
who are present have turned their hearts towards God. They are looking and
longing for glad tidings. We have gathered here by the power of the
Spirit, therefore our hearts are stirred with thanksgiving. 'Send out Thy
Light and Thy Truth O God: Let them lead us to the Holy Mountains!' May we
be refreshed by the holy springs that are renewing the life of the world!
As day follows night, and after sunset comes the dawn, so Jesus Christ
appeared on the horizon of this world like a Sun of Truth; even so when
the people--after forgetting the teachings of Christ and His example of
love to all humanity--had again grown tired of material things, a heavenly
Star shone once more in Persia, a new illumination appeared and now a
great light is spreading throughout all lands.

Men keep their possessions for their own enjoyment and do not share
sufficiently with others the bounty received from God. Spring is thus
changed into the winter of selfishness and egotism. Jesus Christ said 'Ye
must be born again' so that divine Life may spring anew within you. Be
kind to all around and serve one another; love to be just and true in all
your dealings; pray always and so live your life that sorrow cannot touch
you. Look upon the people of your own race and those of other races as
members of one organism; sons of the same Father; let it be known by your
behaviour that you are indeed the people of God. Then wars and disputes
shall cease and over the world will spread the Most Great Peace.

After 'Abdu'l-Baha had retired Tamaddun'ul-Mulk and Mr. W. Tudor Pole gave
short addresses in which references were made to the martyrdom of the
faithful in Persia, special mention being made of the eminent poetess
Qurratu'l-'Ayn.

The next day was a bright Sunday and 'Abdu'l-Baha went out with his
friends driving and walking on the downs. Afterwards he gathered the
servants of the house together, spoke of the dignity of labour and thanked
them for their service, giving to each some remembrance of his visit. He
went over the Guest house and blessed it as a centre for pilgrims from
every part of the world, and said it would become indeed a House of Rest.

On the morning of the third day, a Canon of the Anglican Church met him at
breakfast. The conversation turned on the reluctance of the rich to part
with their possessions, 'Abdu'l-Baha, quoting the saying of Jesus, How
hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. He
remarked that only when the true seeker finds that attachments to the
material are keeping him from his spiritual heritage, will he gladly enter
the way of renunciation. Then will the rich man joyfully share his worldly
possessions with the needy. 'Abdu'l-Baha contrasted the unpretentious
hospitality before him with the costly banquets of the wealthy, who too
often sit at their feasts forgetting the hungry multitudes.

He urged his hearers to spread the light in their own homes so that
finally it would illuminate the whole community.

'Abdu'l-Baha then returned to London. It was the earnest wish of those who
had the privilege of meeting him that his followers in other lands should
know how much the Clifton people appreciated his visit and realized his
spiritual power and love.

Thomas Pole.





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Previous: A Baha'i Wedding



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