I find the personal histories of the early believers fascinating as they inform us about historical events which are unique to a particular epoch. Above and beyond this historical value, the stories provide us with inspiration and solace during times of difficulties. The way these individuals responded to life’s challenges while giving form to ideals we are still working towards puts into perspective where we are today and how we are all attempting to contribute to something Big, something that spans several generations, and several centuries. Once we know their stories, we strive to honour the advice given to them by continuing the work they started so many years ago.
The journey of Lua (Louisa) Aurora Getsinger (1871-1916) is one such example. She was the first female American Bahá’í to go on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1898-1899, to receive a Tablet from the Master and to be trained by Him in serving the Faith of His Father. In March 1899, He said, while handing her a piece of bread dipped in honey:
Let all of your words be as sweetly flavoured by kindness to all people as this bread is flavoured by honey.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave her the title “Livá” and a “Banner” she was indeed: she taught the Faith to numerous Americans of many walks of life in Paris and throughout the American continent; she taught Bahá’u’lláh’s Principles of Unity and Peace in India and represented the Faith in visits to Muzaffari’d-Dín Shah of Persia when he visited Paris, and to the Maharajah of Jalowar, India.
She was so committed to working for the unification of the world that she was willing to sacrifice her life. While staying at the Master’s household in 1903 at a time when Bahá’ís were being martyred in Persia, she desired so much to give her life to the Faith that she prayed day and night and repeatedly asked others to pray and plead her case with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master’s response resonates with our souls to this day: the essence of martyrdom is service, not being physically killed for the greater Cause.
And sacrificing herself she did, this “little mother” of so many Bahá’ís all over the world. She was the “herald of the Covenant” in her relentless, unique and pure-hearted efforts to strengthen the inner unity of the young North-American Bahá’í
Even as her age and generation knew her not, seeing only her mortal frailties – so future ages and cycles will love her – adore her – venerate her blessed name – and strive to walk in the path of her utter servitude, severance, and sacrifice. The passion of Divine love that consumed her heart shall light the hearts of mankind forever and forever.
Lighting the Western Sky. The Hearst Pilgrimage and the Establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in the West by Kathryn Jewett Hogenson (George Ronald, Oxford, 2010)
Lua Getsinger: Herald of the Covenant by Velda Piff Metelmann (George Ronald, Oxford, 1997)
A Love Which Does not Wait by Janet Ruhe-Schoen (Palabra Publications, Riviera Beach, Florida, 1998)
Photo from www.bahaistories.blogspot.com