One June day in New York ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired and slept long enough to keep His audience waiting. He then told His friends, ‘While I was sleeping I was conversing with you as though speaking at the top of My voice. Then through the effect of My Own voice I awoke. As I awoke, one word was upon My lips,—the word “Imtiyaz” (Distinction). So I will speak to you upon that subject this morning.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 140)
After the meeting He went up to rest in Mr Morten’s room. He had seen a hundred and forty people that morning and was so worn out at the end of His talk that He looked almost ill. His fatigue was apparent to everyone–and yet the people had no pity. When I returned from an errand to the kitchen, literally hundreds were streaming toward His room; a dozen were in the room; in the hall were many peering faces, and climbing up the stairs–a procession!
"Oh can’t we shut the door?” I asked Dr Faríd. But the Master heard me.
"Let them come now,” He said gently.
(Diary of Juliet Thompson, 13 April 1912)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Denver on a train at nine in the morning of 26 September. They traveled all day, and the speed and jolting motion of the train greatly tired Him, so His attendants begged Him to stop and rest, since California was such a great distance away. So when the train arrived in Glenwood Springs at two o‘clock in the morning, the party disembarked and checked into the Hotel Colorado . . N In the morning after tea, the Master left the hotel for a walk. Glenwood Springs was surrounded by a high, forest–mantled mountains with wildflowers in abundance. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wandered through the parklike garden adjacent to the hotel until He reached the river where there were bathhouses and hot springs. The whole group went to the baths, which were in a special room in which hot water came from a natural cave. The water was very hot and most people could tolerate it only for 15 min. or so. Fujita recounted years later to Sylvia Ios: “He got so tired. He say He want to go to bath. We had the hot springs there, yeah. And He went and all of us. Then He stay in the hot springs longer than anybody else. And when He come out He call me, “Give me the massage. Relaxed. Slept hours!” The Master said, “Today I am relieved of fatigue. We‘ve been to many lovely places during this journey but because of Our work We had no time to look at the scenery. We did not even think of a moments rest. Today, however, We have had a little respite.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 206-207)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared as the guest of honor at a meeting of the New York Peace Society held at the Hotel Astor. Before the meeting, the Master had a high fever and was in bed. Juliet Thompson tried to get Him to stay and rest, but He laughed, “I work by the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. I do not work by hygienic laws. If I did, I would get nothing done.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 129-130)
A second meeting was held that evening at the home of Mr and Mrs Andrew J. Dyer, a mixed race couple. Those present were in such unity and love that the Master remarked: “Before I arrived, I felt too tired to speak at this meeting but at the sight of such genuine love and attraction between the white and the black friends, I was so moved that I spoke with great love and likened this union of different colored races to a string of gleaming pearls and rubies.” After He spoke and showered His love on each one, He left in His carriage for a third meeting. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was so filled with joy and happiness and His voice resonated so loudly that even the people walking along the street could hear Him.
‘The Japanese Ambassador to a European capital (Viscount Arawaka – Madrid) was staying at the Hotel d‘Jena (in Paris). This gentleman and his wife had been told of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence in Paris, and the latter was anxious to have the privilege of meeting Him. ‘"I am very sad,” said Her Excellency. “I must not go out this evening as my cold is severe, and I leave early in the morning for Spain. If only there were a possibility of seeing Him.” ‘This was told to the Master, Who had just returned after a long, tiring day. ‘"Tell the lady and her husband that, as she is unable to come to me, I will call upon her.” ‘Accordingly, though the hour was late, through the cold and the rain He came, with His smiling courtesy, bringing joy to us all, as we awaited Him in the Tapestry Room of the Hotel d‘Jena.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 138)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His party arrived in Denver about two o‘clock in the afternoon and were met by Mr. and Mrs. Ashton and a few other friends. He was taken to the Hotel Shirley where He picked up a few hours of sleep. Less than three hours later He was giving newspaper interviews to the waiting reporters. Later He went to the home of Mrs. Roberts, which was so filled with people that some were standing in the entrance.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 203)
The Trues’ downstairs rooms were constantly filled with people for meetings or those just wishing to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Large as they were, they still weren’t large enough for the crowds. People lined the hallways and were stacked up on the stairs. When the Master became tired, He had to leave the house and go for a walk to find space to unburden Himself of the constant demand for His attention.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 193)
In California it was observed that ‘despite the Master’s fatigue at times, and His physical ailments, He welcomed everyone with a beaming smile, and in His pleasing and vibrant voice would ask, “Are you happy?"’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 127)
Despite the Master’s fatigue at times, He welcomed everyone with a beaming smile, and in His pleasing and vibrant voice would ask “Are you happy?” He loved the sound of laughter and often told stories and anecdotes to make us laugh.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 213)
Just before leaving Montréal the Master revealed a Tablet in which He said: “It is because the friends of California, and particularly those of San Francisco, have so frequently called and pleaded, expressed despair and wept and sent incessant supplication, that I have determined to go to California.” But He was tired, and had been taken ill. When the train reached Toronto, He got out and walked a little on the platform, saying that He was exhausted. “We have not gone far, yet we feel tired. How will the great distance to California be traversed? We have no choice, as in the path of God we must regard troubles as blessings and discomforts as greatest bounties.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 189)
By 12 June ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was extremely exhausted. Juliet Thompson wrote that “He talked for a long while to the people. But this I could see was pure sacrifice. His vitality seemed gone. At times He could scarcely bring forth the words, yet He gave and gave. Nevertheless, He continued to go out and speak at public meetings, and at gatherings at His house.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 142)
One very definite impression received from that visit was of His power to refresh Himself from some spiritual source when His strength had been overtaxed. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken to a large group in the afternoon, and when He mounted the platform in the evening, before a packed hall, He looked very tired. He remained seated in silence for a few moments, after Mr. Graham Pole had reverently introduced Him. Then, seeming to gather strength, He arose, and with voice and manner of joyous animation, and eyes aglow, He paced the platform with a vigorous trend, and spoke with words of great power.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 172)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved, on the 27th, to the hotel in Rue Lauriston where He had stayed before. He was very tired, and needed a few days’ rest before people learned where He resided.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)
Even His physical condition was reinforced constantly by this Divine Power. On one occasion after a particularly exhausting day He was returning late at night from a gathering at which He had spoken with much energy and effectiveness. In the automobile he showed great weariness. He relaxed and gradually sank into almost a comatose condition. The friends who were with Him were greatly alarmed. On arriving at their destination He had to be almost carried into the house and to His room. Within fifteen minutes, while the friends were gathered in great anxiety in the lower rooms, His voice was heard resounding with even more than its usual energy and power calling for His secretary, and He appeared at the top of the stairs His usual dominant, smiling, forceful self.
(Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, p. 137-138)
The believers had planned to show the city to the Master; the stores, hotels, banks; to give Him a good time seeing New York. Just as I stepped into the machine and was seated, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá looked at me. He just looked at me, and all at once with an immense sigh--or what you call it better than a sigh--like the whole world would be lifted from Him so He could have a rest, He put His head on my left shoulder, clear down as close as He could, like a child, and went to sleep. ‘I was still as a mouse; I didn’t want to move--I didn’t want to wake Him up. The trip was nearly a half hour and often I wondered what the others thought--that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was looking out of the window all the time. He woke up just as we stopped at the Kinneys’ home.
(Marzieh Gail, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 208)
‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to come on foot two miles in the heat carrying flower-pots on His shoulders. He was an old, old man with white hair and white beard and He used to carry these flower-pots to the tomb of Bahá’u’lláh from one of the gardens in order to plant them near the tomb of His Father. There was a pump on the side of the wall of the tomb of Bahá’u’lláh in the old days, one of those hand-pumps that you have to handle. I heard that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to stand, as an old man, and pump water until from standing against the wall and working He was so stiff He could not walk away from it. Once they had to come and lift Him away from the wall and rub His legs until the circulation came back. And they said “Why do you tire yourself so, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?” He said “What can I do for Bahá’u’lláh?"’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 167)
One day, although He had guests for luncheon, He found it impossible to sit much longer at the table and had to go to His room to rest.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 391)
During the afternoon of April 11th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned the visits of Professor Ignaz Goldziher and other notabilities, and engaged in long conversations with them. When He arrived at the hall of the Old Building of Parliament for the public meeting, He was very fatigued, barely able to speak. Yet He delivered a powerful discourse, and the audience, which had in it a number of the prominent men and academics of Budapest, showed that it had greatly appreciated the talk.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 385)
The Master’s concern for others endured to the very end of His earthly life. During the afternoon of 27 November 1921, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent His friends to the Shrine of the Bab to celebrate the Day of the Covenant. His family had tea with Him. He ‘received with His unfailing courtesy and kindness that same afternoon, and despite growing weariness, the Mufti of Haifa, the Mayor and the Head of the Police...’ That evening ‘He asked after the health of every member of the Household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa. “Very good, very good” He said when told that none were ill. This was His very last utterance concerning His friends.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 90)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was very tired and Agnes Parsons suggested he take a rest and not worry about the constant stream of visitors. Saying “God bless you for that suggestion, I am very tired", He rested splendidly until nearly 4 o‘clock.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 123-124)
His physical strength had suffered greatly and He was unable, on several occasions, to go to the meetings held in the homes of the Bahá’ís. But He was always receiving visitors at the hotel, giving a talk whenever they gathered in numbers.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 391)
Lady Blomfield cited another instance of His delightful humour: ‘One day after a meeting when, as usual, many people had crowded around Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived home very tired. We were sick at heart that He should be so fatigued, and bewailed the many steps to be ascended to the flat. Suddenly, to our amazement, the Master ran up the stairs to the top very quickly without stopping.
‘He looked down at us as we walked up after Him, saying with a bright smile, from which all traces of fatigue had vanished: “You are all very old! I am very young!"’ He added, ‘"Through the power of Bahá’u’lláh all things can be done. I have just used that power."’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 174)
At a time when Juliet Thompson’s mother was suffering much grief because her son’s fiancée, both brilliant and beautiful, did not want to make friends with his family, she received an invitation to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Though she was opposed to Juliet’s work for the Bahá’í Faith and a thunderstorm was raging, she got her rubbers and went to the Master. He was exhausted, lying on His bed. He had seen hundreds of people that day, literally. But she was warmly welcomed. His words of comfort included, ‘…I heard of your sorrow. And now I want to comfort you. Trust in God. God is kind. God is faithful. God never forgets you. If others are unkind what difference does it make when God is kind? When God is on your side it does not matter what men do to you.’ The next day ‘Mamma’ was able to say, ‘All my bitterness has gone.’ She regarded it as a miracle.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)