What I Learned: Margaret Zambrano and The Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Wilmette Institute often prints comments that learners in its courses write in their final Learning Self-Assessments. Now the Institute is writing students three months after a course ends, asking them how they are using what they learned. One of the first responses came from Margaret Zambrano, who lives in San Pedro, California, USA. In August 2016 she signed up for The Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (faculty: Anne Perry, Ed DiLiberto), saying that she was a long-time Bahá’í who wanted “to become closer in spirit to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” and “feel him as a presence” in her “life more constantly.” Three months after the course ended here is what she reports:

Margaret made a number of miscellaneous comments about what she had learned in The Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

    • She said that she “had not heard of the Letter to the Executive Committee of the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, The Hague, December 17, 1919, and the Tablet to Dr. Forel” and is meaning to find her own copies of both tablets. [Portions of the Tablet to The Hague can be found in the pocket-size edition of Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, sections 227–29; the Tablet to Dr. Forel is available on www.bahai.org].
    • She reported that “here in Los Angeles we have large feasts and sometimes they ask a question that is sure to stump people (a group of a few hundred), such as, “From which Imam was the Báb descended?” or “From what religion is this quotation taken: ‘Good thoughts, good words, good actions/deeds’?” She said she is able to “pipe up with the answers, thanks to Wilmette Institute courses.” [She has taken seven.]
    • She added that it is “so helpful to be reading about ‘Abdu’l Bahá in this acrimonious time.”

Perhaps the most intriguing use to which Margaret is putting what she learned in the course about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is in a study class on the Ruhi Book 8.1, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, Unit 1: The Center of the Covenant and His Will and Testament. She wrote:

Just now I am preparing to participate in or help guide a class of Book 8.1 on the covenant. . . . I find, thanks to the class, that I know a lot more about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá than I did before. Also, I feel able to be closer to the spirit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the faith. Just tonight I have reviewed the first fifty pages of the Ruhi Book 8.1. I think I read ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s A Traveler’s Narrative in connection with the class as well, and it is also helpful for background for the Ruhi 8.1 on the covenant. The Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a wonderful class, and I would like to review the written material again. Right now I am thinking I got a lot out of the things ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote about an international body and why the League of Nations failed, and I would like to review what He wrote and see how it applies to the United Nations.

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