Upon thinking about this talk, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last talk in Paris, I am inclined to think about nature. His understanding of the grand architecture of life itself is evident as all attending are gently consoled and encouraged. It feels like the transition from one stage to the next; the fall of a plant only to disperse seeds into the ground and wait for water and light, eager to grow. It is a beautifully distilled wisdom that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá shares with all of us. We must not mourn but rejoice, we must focus on the light and not the dark, for therein lies prosperity.
He does not, however, gloss over the fact that He will miss all the people He has met and He expresses His dear love for them. His message speaks of oneness, between all people and faiths, something any progressive mind could resonate with. He urges all to take action and be attracted to the Blessings and Confirmations of God. He confirms and amplifies the age old wisdom that seems as relevant as ever: that all religions and peoples are one.
I am inspired to think of a poem by Phillip Larkin, “The Whitsun Weddings”. It speaks of the strange mixed feelings anyone may feel when taking a large step into a different place and reality. This poem uses the metaphor of marriage to speak of change and of all the excitement, joy and sadness that surround all those who move beyond what they know. And within the limits of the human mind even a joyous occasion can be thought a kind of crisis of loss. Yet that crisis in itself may later yield a greater victory of understanding and strength.
“Success so huge and wholly farcical;
The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral…”
Yet something changes upon reflection:
“…this frail Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give.”
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says goodbye, it seems like He is really inviting everyone to be thankful and to think deeply about the purpose of life, to use the silence and reverence He commands as a recognition of beauty and power. It is a unifying experience, even in the grief of physical separation, to be with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Now I say ‘Good-bye’. This I say only to your outer selves; I do not say it to your souls, for our souls are always together. Be comforted, and rest assured that day and night I shall turn to the Kingdom of Abhá in supplication for you, that day by day you may grow better and holier, nearer to God, and more and more illumined by the radiance of His Love.