Issues of Society
Source: The Flame By William Sears and Robert Quigley
On April 11th, 1912, …the steamship Cedric sailed into New York harbour bringing ‘Abdu’l-Baha on His historic visit to the shores of America.
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s arrival was an occasion for excitement, not only among the Baha’is but for the press and the people of New York as well. Newspaper reporters and News Service representatives came aboard the Cedric at quarantine and interviewed ‘Abdu’l-Baha coming up the bay.
Versions of that historic interview appeared in newspapers all over America and around the world… ‘Abdu’l-Baha had truly, as promised by His Father, raised His voice in the West. The [New York City News Association] …was keenly interested in the words of an exile and a prisoner who, after half a century of such suffering, was free to speak at last to the world.
‘He comes on a mission of international peace,’ reporter W. P. Dodge explained in his press account, ‘to attend and address the Peace Conference at Lake Mohonk the latter part of this month, and to address various peace meetings, educational societies, religious organizations . ..
‘’Abdu’l-Baha was found on the upper deck, standing where He could see the pilot, his long, flowing oriental robe flapping in the breeze. He was clothed in a long, black robe open at the front and disclosing another robe of light tan. Upon His head was a pure white turban, such as all eastern patriarchs wear.
‘His face was light itself as he scanned the harbor and greeted the reporters … He is a man of medium height, though at first sight he seemed to be much taller. He is strongly and solidly built, and weighs probably one hundred and sixty-five pounds. As He paced the deck, talking with the reporters, He appeared alert and active in every movement, His head thrown back and splendidly poised upon His broad, square shoulders, most of the time. A profusion of iron grey hair-bursting out at the sides of the turban and hanging long upon the neck; a large, massive head, full-domed and remarkably wide across the forehead and temples, the forehead rising like a great palisade above the eyes, which were very wide apart, their orbits large and deep, looking out from under massive overhanging brows; strong Roman nose, generous ears, decisive yet kindly mouth and chin; a creamy white complexion, beard same color as his hair, worn full over the face and carefully trimmed at almost full length- this completes an insufficient word picture of this “Wise Man out of the East”.’
‘Abdu’l-Baha spoke at length to the press representatives, answering all their questions about peace, war, the rights of women, freedom of the press, education, true liberty and true religion.
‘Abdu’l-Baha displayed wisdom, love and a sense of humour as He chatted with the press reporters in His stateroom. He recalled an incident from the previous winter when a young Christian was about to set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The pilgrim was worried, feeling that he did not have the right spirit and sense of reverence.
‘The proper spirit in which to visit places hallowed by remembrances of Christ, ‘’Abdu’l-Baha told His young visitor,’ is one of constant communion with God. Love for God will be the telegraph wire, one end of which is in the Kingdom of the Spirit, and the other in your heart.’
‘I am afraid my telegraph wire is broken,’ the would-be pilgrim complained.
‘Then,’ said ‘Abdu’l-Baha, laughing heartily, ‘I told him: “You will have to use wireless telegraphy.”’