‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Radiant Smile

May 3, 2021
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Radiant Smile

An Impressions by Clara Davis

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Radiant Smile

Source: bahai-encyclopedia-project.org

  On accepting the Bahá’í teachings, Clara found herself part of a small group of Baha’ís in Walla Walla, far from other centers of Bahá’í activity. __________________________________

In October 1912, when ‘Abdu’l-Baha visited the San Francisco Bay Area for eighteen days, Clara Davis was so short of funds that she almost did not make the journey of some sixteen hundred kilometers (one thousand miles) to meet Him. At last, she managed to borrow money for a train ticket. Arriving in San Francisco on the final full day of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit, she found herself in a strange city with no clear idea of the address she sought. She followed the vague instructions she had been given and somehow managed to find the house where He was staying. The first person she saw there was Hyde, who had arranged to be in San Francisco for a week to hear as many of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s addresses as he could.

Although the time that Hyde and, especially, Clara spent in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s presence was brief, He made an impact on both of them that lasted for the rest of their lives. Clara often recounted a story—told with much laughter by ‘Abdu’l-Baha during dinner—about a woman who took her duck to market, claiming that it was the biggest duck. For Clara, the moral of the story was that she should control her ego and an inclination to exaggerate. The story, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s radiant smile, and the delicious taste of the rice they ate that night remained vivid memories that Clara continued to share with others for nearly fifty years.

After ‘Abdu’l-Baha left San Francisco, both Clara Davis and Hyde Dunn carried out their activities as Baha’is with new dedication—Hyde living across the bay in Oakland and Clara in San Francisco. Over the next year, the friendship between Clara and Hyde deepened, and they married in July 1917. They lived in Oakland, later moving to Santa Cruz, and often hosted Baha’i meetings or spoke in the homes of others. The couple invariably rented a well-appointed apartment or cottage, rather than a simple one, to have pleasant surroundings in which to present the Baha’i Faith. The remainder of Hyde’s income was spent almost entirely on their teaching activities—on travel, Bahá’í literature, and the food with which they served the many guests who attended meetings in their home.


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