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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