Before leaving London, the Master officiated a wedding of a young Persian couple. The full account can be read at http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/ABL/abl-38.html , but the sweetness of the event struck me in the description of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asking the bride and groom, in turn, if they loved each other with their all their heart and soul. That modest question and the meal that followed were simple embellishments to what is required of a Bahá’í wedding ceremony — namely the recitation of the wedding vow, “we will all verily abide by the will of God", in the presence of two witnesses.
The wedding performed by the Master calls to mind other historical examples of Bahá’í weddings — such as His own, in the House of ‘Abbúd. The wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Muniríh Kh?ánum, described the occasion in these words: “How blessed and exalted was that time! How joyous that hours in that room!” (Munirih Khanum, p. 51)
“At the wedding there was no cake, only cups of tea; there were no decorations, and no choir, but the blessing of Jamál-i-Mubarak; the glory and beauty of love and happiness were beyond and above all luxury and ceremony and circumstance.” (The Chosen Highway, p. 46)
The spiritual nature of marriage which is mirrored in the simple dignity of these ceremonies was articulated by the Master at the London wedding. He said: “Marriage is a holy institution and much encouraged in this blessed cause. Now you two are no longer two, but one. Bahá‘u’llah’s wish is that all men be of one mine and consider themselves of one great household, that the mind of mankind be not divided against itself. It is my wish and hope that you may be blessed in your life. May God help you to render great service to the kingdom of Abhá and may you become a means of its advancement. May joy be increased to you as the years go by, and may you become thriving trees bearing delicious and fragrant fruits which are the blessings in the path of service.”
My overactive imagination runs wild with this simple account and I relish the layers of unity involved: a bride who had journeyed from Baghdad meeting her Persian husband in London, the resulting union of their two families, and the mingling of eastern and western believers in celebrating a simple wedding in the presence of the Master. In this wedding I see the unity of the world. http://www.thejourneywest.org/2011/10/02/the-master-officiates-a-wedding/
Lua (Getsinger) came to Grace and told her that it was the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she marry Harlan Ober. Grace was shocked. ‘Why I don’t really know that man! I‘ve only met him a few times and that very casually. Besides - I‘m almost engaged to someone else. He’s asked me and I‘m making up my mind. How could I think of marrying Harlan Ober? Lua smiled, “I‘m only repeating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s request,” she said gently. So Grace quickly put the idea out of her mind. The next morning Lua came the second time to deliver the same message. Again Grace dismissed it all as being utterly fantastic. The third morning when Lua came she added her own remarks to the message. “You’d better really consider this, Grace, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does not make suggestions lightly.” Grace, this time, realized how serious this was. ‘But what does He want me to do? Write to Harlan Ober, whom I scarcely know - and propose to him? How could I? Oh, Lua I do want to be obedient but how on earth can I? Lua hugged her and patted her consolingly. “Ill do it,” she said. “I know Harlan very well - it was through me he came into the Faith. I can do this easily.” So Lua wrote to Harlan - and Harlan, radiant at the thought that he was obeying a suggestion of his beloved Master, took the next train to New York from Boston where he lived. He came at once to see Grace and together they went walking through Central Park where he proposed and Grace, still dazed and uncertain, accepted - because it was the will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The next morning they were called into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s bedroom. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was there, with one or two others, waiting to perform the marriage ceremony. Grace remembered, afterward, entering the room. She remembered the look of warm love on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s face; she remembered the bands of sunlight on the floor and the bowls of roses on the tables and the next thing she was aware of was lying on a couch with Harlan bending above her asking if she felt better. She then discovered that the marriage had been performed - a marriage that, with no faltering, she had gone through with Harlan at her side - then, when it was over, she had swayed a little and they had suggested she lie down. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, smiling and serene, was watching her with great love, knowing perfectly well how overcome with the spiritual force of these great moments she had been and knowing that the whole experience only proved her great spiritual susceptibility and capacity. So were Grace Robarts and Harlan Ober married by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Later that same day they were married again by the laws of New York when Howard Colby Ives performed the legal ceremony.
(This was told to me by Grace Ober: Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall, daughter of Howard Colby Ives at Green Acre c. 1933)
Louis Gregory was blessed with going on pilgrimage. Towards its end ‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá summoned Louis Gregory and Louisa Mathew, a white English pilgrim. He questioned them, and, to their surprise, expressed the wish that they should join their lives together. In deference to His wishes they were married, and he sent them forth as a symbol of the spiritual unity, cooperation, dignity in relationships and service He desired for the races of mankind. That marriage presented many challenges. It brought all the obstacles to understanding and amity, and often cruel pressures. But it endured because the two souls it joined were ever guided and protected by a love beyond themselves and the pressures of the world. Theirs was a demonstration of the love which is prompted by the knowledge of God and reflected in the soul. They saw in each other the Beauty of God; and, clinging to this, they were sustained throughout the trials, the accidental conditions of life and the changes and chances of human experience.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 112)