European Baha'is mark centenary of 'Abdu'l-Baha's journeys
3 October 2011
London — Baha'is in Europe have been commemorating the 100th anniversary of 'Abdu'l-Baha's historic Western travels by reflecting on the qualities of His unique character.
On the anniversary of 'Abdu'l-Baha's journey to Bristol, 23-25 September, actors, storytellers and musicians shared accounts of the weekend He spent in the city and the profound impression He made on the people He encountered.
"A response of love"
In London, a specially-commissioned play depicting 'Abdu'l-Baha's visit as seen through the eyes of his host, Lady Blomfield, was premiered on 15 September in the historic setting of Leighton House Museum.
In the audience were people who today stay at 97 Cadogan Gardens, the apartment block where 'Abdu'l-Baha lived during His visit. One remarked that it was "wonderful to learn a little more of this fascinating history of my home."
"It was so extraordinary to meet the daughter of a woman who lives there and witness her astonishment at the spiritual history of the building," said Sarah Perceval, who wrote the script and played the role of Lady Blomfield.
"Everyone had such a heartfelt response to the evening...really a response of love," she said.
Two days later, extracts from the play were performed at the church of St. John's, Smith Square, where the Westminster Baha'i community gathered with their friends, 100 years after 'Abdu'l-Baha had addressed its congregation at the invitation of the then Archdeacon of Westminster, Basil Wilberforce.
A highlight of the meeting was a special message received from Princess Helen, the great grand-daughter of Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938), who was the first royal personage to embrace the Baha'i teachings.
"For me, the message of this great faith is as important today as it has always been," wrote Princess Helen.
"In an increasingly secular society, where market forces, rampant consumerism and selfishness are considered virtuous, the Baha'i Faith offers an alternative way of living, rooted in the propagation of justice, unity and the establishing of peace to bring about prosperity and collective well-being.
"Historically...messengers of such radicalism have been considered subversives. This seems to have been true of 'Abdu'l-Baha, who because of His deep faith in God's goodness and guidance spent most of his life in exile.
"Lesser men would have become bitter separated from their homeland, but that was not so of Abdu'l-Baha. He chose a different path and became a great ambassador of peace and justice, and a welcome guest among all peoples of good will and faith. Such people are unique, inspirational and challenging, and we need to hear their messages of hope," wrote Princess Helen.
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