A Life of Service
Centenary art project:
‘Abdu’l-Bahá walking outside 7 Haparsim Street in Haifa, c. 1919
Copyright © Bahá’í International Community
A CALL FOR 2D/3D ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS
2021 marks the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s passing. To honor and celebrate His life of service to humanity, the Baha’is of Kirkland would like to invite you to participate in a community art exhibition, which will be hosted at the Bellevue Baha’i Center from the 13-20th of November 2021.
Join us, whether young or old, professional artist or dabbler to showcase creative expressions based on the following spiritual themes embodied in the life and writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
- A Life of Service
- The Beauty of Unity in Diversity
- The Power of Love
To help inspire and guide your artistic expressions, there is a selection of quotations from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on these themes below.
“He Stood like a lighthouse founded on a rock around which wintry tempests rage and the summer ocean plays” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as described by J.E. Esslemont in Baha’u’llah and the New Era
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah (the founder of the Baha’i Faith). He spent most of His childhood and adulthood as a prisoner and an exile for His association and belief in His Father’s message of the spiritual foundations of the unity of humanity. Even in imprisonment, His life of service and sincere love touched many. When He was finally granted freedom at an advanced age, He traveled to many countries, including the United States, connecting with and bringing joy to the hearts of those He encountered. He specifically addressed the importance of unity between the Black and white races as a prerequisite for world peace. He promoted international peace and championed social justice. Today, these stories of His life and travels, along with many of His writings and talks, continue to inspire and serve as a perfect example of the Baha’i teachings and principles in action.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the steps of 7 Haparsim Street, the House of the Master, May 1921
Copyright © Bahá’í International Community
A Life of Service
My name is ‘Abdu’l-Baha (“servant of Baha/Glory, as in Baha’u’llah”). My qualification is ‘Abdu’l-Baha. My reality is ‘Abdu’l-Baha. My praise is ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion…No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except ‘Abdu’l-Baha. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory. ~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha
“Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who may cross your path.” The words of the Master during His visit to Paris were exemplified in His life. As Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote of Him, He was ‘incomparable in his spontaneity, the genuineness and warmth of His sympathy and loving-kindness shown to friend and stranger alike, believer and unbeliever, rich and poor, high and low, whom He met, either intimately or casually, whether on board a ship, or whilst pacing the streets, in parks or public squares, at receptions and banquets, in slums or mansions, in the gatherings of His followers or the assemblage of the learned, He, the incarnation of every Baha’i virtue and the embodiment of every Bahai ideal.’ As one of His early admirers in the United States noted, ‘He manifested what others mouthed.’” ~ Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p.39
The words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá can be put on to paper, but how to describe the smile, the earnest pleading, the loving-kindness, the radiant vitality, and at times the awe-inspiring authority of His spoken words? The vibrations of His voice seemed to enfold the listeners in an atmosphere of the Spirit, and to penetrate to the very core of being. We were experiencing the transforming radiance of the Sun of Truth; henceforth, material aims and unworthy ambitions shrank away into their trivial, obscure retreats. ~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha as described by Lady Sara Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p.180
Regarding the Arts
The Power of Love
The Beauty of Unity in Diversity
Let us look rather at the beauty in diversity, the beauty of harmony, and learn a lesson from the vegetable creation. If you beheld a garden in which all the plants were the same as to form, colour and perfume, it would not seem beautiful to you at all, but, rather, monotonous and dull.
The garden which is pleasing to the eye and which makes the heart glad, is the garden in which are growing side by side flowers of every hue, form and perfume, and the joyous contrast of colour is what makes for charm and beauty…. It is just the diversity and variety that constitutes its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to advantage the special loveliness of each and all.
Thus should it be among the children of men! The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.
Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one.
Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts.
Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.
Every edifice is made of many different stones, yet each depends on the other to such an extent that if one were displaced the whole building would suffer; if one is faulty the structure is imperfect.
Bahá’u’lláh has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity. This is the work of the Divine Bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us.
‘Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, Beauty and Harmony in Diversity, p.51-54