An English Teacher Learns from the Master at Work

Kathryn Barlow of Victoria, British Columbia, is a retired teacher of English literature, composition, and English as a Second Language. She observed ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s station as a servant of His Father and as a teacher knowing the needs of His students.

One of the things for which I gained an appreciation is ‘Abdul-Baha’s station of servitude. That a 67-year-old man in poor health could undertake such a strenuous journey is amazing. Everything ‘Abdul-Baha did and said was in service of the Baha’i Faith. He was kind and loving, patient, informative; He inspired and confirmed, all the while building unity and proclaiming His father’s message.

In talking at the Kinney residence on December 2, 1912, ‘Abdul-Baha tells us that Baha’u’llah “entered into a covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion. . . .” This suggests to me that what ‘Abdul-Baha tells us is not His own view or opinion but that of Baha’u’llah. Really is there any greater servitude than living and expressing Baha’u’llah’s teachings?

The second thing that struck me was that ‘Abdul-Baha apparently lived in a spiritual world of which I am only vaguely aware. The most striking example was Juliet Thompson’s account of ‘Abdul-Baha waking from a nap and appointing Lua Getsinger “Herald of the Covenant.” Milder examples might include ‘Abdul-Baha’s uncanny ability to anticipate one’s thoughts and needs (Kate Carew and Howard Colby Ives, for example) or even His choice of the Cedric over the Titanic.

It was most interesting to get a glimpse into the early days of the Baha’i Faith as well, and it is fascinating to see how it has evolved into what we know today with the administrative order still evolving and communities striving for unity at an ever deeper level while spreading the healing message of Baha’u’llah.