Hand of the Cause Corinne True (November 1, 1861- April 3, 1961) is best known for her unparalleled contributions to the building of the Wilmette Temple. As the Master called this temple the “Mother temple of the West”, Corinne True was later on in her life called “Mother of the Temple.” Despite her initial reluctance at being involved, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – to her surprise and that of others – gave her detailed instructions regarding its site and construction. Throughout the years He carefully guided her in building and uniting the North American Bahá’í Community so that it could construct and embody a spiritual centre physically and spiritually, not only within the U.S.A., but also as a pioneering example and forerunner of the Bahá’í Administrative Order in the world at large[i].
When reading about her life I am struck by how closely this major task of building the temple, of building a community, and of building a unified world, is linked to the building of a home and to the perfecting of one’s soul. During His tour in the U.S.A. the Master visited the home of Moses and Corinne True more than once. He also asked Mrs. True to look after His household while in New York and to take care of Saichiro Fujita. Over the years, the Trues’ home was a spiritual centre where numerous souls heard about Bahá’u’lláh’s Message of unity and peace and where the Bahá’í community held several important meetings.
What especially stands out for me is how Corinne’s home, and the tests that assailed it, brought out the strength, steadfastness and wisdom that she became so known for. The family she built together with her husband Moses was characterized by love, joy, and deep respect and when sadness hit them, again and again with the loss of five out of eight of their children, these virtues only increased in strength. An important contribution to this was her reliance on the Writings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His constant support. He most tenderly and most clearly explained to her in numerous Tablets how to see these tests in their true spiritual light: death does not divide and there is no barrier between the spiritual world and this world. Another contributing factor to her spiritual strength seems to be the time she spent, as a pilgrim, at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s home in ‘Akká:
In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house, people worked hard, often on practical, even mundane, matters, although no one came close to working as hard as the Master. Heaven, Corinne realized, was an attitude. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá demonstrated it every moment of His life regardless of the circumstances. In His presence she sensed someone completely content with God’s will, happy and serene although not unaware of the tests and problems of the world; He focused on life’s potentialities, always striving to release and develop them, and drawing strength and knowledge from the Divine Source. A group of people with such an attitude, or striving to attain it, creates a heavenly atmosphere, like the one in the Master’s home. And sincere visitors like Corinne were so affected by it that they didn’t want to revert to their former outlook. They dedicated themselves to attaining such an attitude, and helping others attain it.[ii]
[i] Earl Redman. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst (Oxford: George Ronald, 2011), pp.110-115, 192-197;
“Corinne True” Bahaikipedia: http://bahaikipedia.org/Corinne_True [accessed 13 April 2012]
Robert H. Stockman, “Corinne True” on: http://bahai-library.com/stockman_true [accessed 13 April 2012]
Nathan Rutstein. Corinne True, Faithful Handmaid of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Oxford: George Ronald, 1987)
[ii] Nathan Rutstein. Corinne True, Faithful Handmaid of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Oxford: George Ronald, 1987), p.73.
Photo from www.centenary.bahai.us