While getting ready for my first nineteen day feast in my new hometown, I thought of the Unity feast in held Englewood on June 29th, 1912. I can only imagine how the friends must have felt when preparing themselves for a feast hosted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A hundred years later, thousands of thousands of people around the world are getting ready, just like me, to attend their respective feast — a living proof of the Master’s words: “This assembly has a name and significance which will last forever. Hundreds of thousands of meetings shall be held to commemorate this occasion, and the very words I speak to you today shall be repeated in them for ages to come.”
How overwhelming it must have been to see the Master walking in that garden on such a beautiful day, to have been surrounded by a carpet of flowers, and to have sat in a circle and partaken of His love and His words. We may not have had the opportunity to be in His presence, but for sure His love and words are still with us when we gather together because of our “attraction to the divine Kingdom”.
After reading the talk given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for this occasion, my appreciation of this gathering has changed. Its main purpose is not to get together with friends, or consult about the affairs of our community (although they are important elements): the main purpose should be “the attainment of the virtues of God”, as it is not just a physical gathering but more importantly, it is an spiritual one. It should be a moment for us to rejoice, for we are “sheltered beneath the providence of God.”
The Master talked about the importance of this Day: “How many blessed souls have longed for this radiant century […], yearning to realize an hour of this time.” These words became like a wake up call. Hearing that those in the past yearned to have been part of this Day, made me wonder if I do really appreciate this blessing of been part of this century, and I realized that I should “praise and thank God with heart and soul in appreciation of this great opportunity” more often.
This gathering was named a “Unity feast”, and those two words highlight its main goal: Unity. I love how the Master called us to “become as the waves of one sea, stars of the same heaven, fruits adorning the same tree, roses of one garden”. He went further by describing how this unity should be manifested — mostly by thinking of others instead of ourselves. Also, He spoke of how important it is to concentrate our efforts in first creating unity around us, in our communities and families, before our efforts can be directed in creating unity in the world at large.
Photo from www.centenary.bahai.us