A Gift of Trousers
Virtues | Charity
A Gift of Trousers
Source: Stories About Abdu’l-Baha | Portals to Freedom
While Abdu’l-Baha was in Dublin, He stayed at a small inn. A woman staying at the same inn tells this story:
Early one moring while she was dressing and happening to glance out of the window she saw Abdu’l-Bahá pacing up and down dictating to His secretary. As she watched, an old man in very dirty, ragged clothes walked past the inn. Abdu’l-Baha sent His secretary to call him back.
As the man approached, Abdu’l-Baha went forward to greet him. He took the poor man’s hand in His and smiled into his face as though He were welcoming an old friend. He talked to him for a few minutes, trying to make the old man feel more cheerful. Finally, the man did smile a little, but it was rather sad. While Abdu’l Baha talked to him, He looked the man over. He noticed that his trousers were very torn and scarcely covered his body. He said, “We must do something about that.”
The street was empty because it was very early in the morning. With a gentle laugh, Abdu’l-Baha stepped into the shadow of the wall and began to fumble under His cloak. Then He stooped and His trousers fell to the ground. He pulled His cloak around Him and, turning to the old man, He handed him His trousers. “May God go with you,” He said. And with that He turned to His secretary and continued dictating as if nothing unusual had happened.”
I wonder what that man thought as he went his way. I like to think that this glimpse into a world in which someone cared enough for him to give him his own garb rather than that he should need, marked an epoch in his life, and transformed the “brass of this world into gold by the alchemy of the spirit,” as Bahá’u’lláh says.
During the prison life in `Akká Abdu’l-Bahá often gave His bed to those who had none, and He always refused to own more than one coat.
“Why should I have two,” He said, “when there are so many who have none?”
…Abdu’l-Bahá did not tell others the way of Life without walking therein Himself. In this incident I saw reflected indeed His advice to me in the parlor of the Inn that memorable Sunday.
A few days after leaving Dublin Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a letter to His host in Dublin in which He stated:
“To be fruitless in the world of humanity is the manifest loss. A wise person will not attach his heart to ephemeral things: nay, rather, will he continually seek immortal life and strive to obtain eternal happiness.”