Sick - caring for

While in San Francisco, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited a black believer, Mr Charles Tinsley, who had been confined to bed for a long time with a broken leg. The Master said to him: ‘You must not be sad. This affliction will make you spiritually stronger. Do not be sad. Cheer up! Praise be to God, you are dear to me.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 44)


A dear friend of the family, Jinab-i-Munib, was taken seriously ill. When the boat stopped at Smyrna, Sarkar-i-Aqa (‘Abdu’l-Bahá) and Mirza Musa carried him ashore, and took him to a hospital. The Master brought a melon and some grapes; returning with the refreshing fruit for him - He found that he had died. Arrangements were made with the director of the hospital for a simple funeral. The Master chanted some prayers, then, heartsore, came back to the boat.
(Lady Blomfied, The Chosen Highway)


Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne, poetess, and her husband, Dr T. K. Cheyne, esteemed critic, lived in Oxford, England, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited them. Dr Cheyne’s health and strength were waning. ‘The beautiful loving care of the devoted wife for her gifted, invalid husband touched the heart of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. With tears in His kind eyes He spoke of them’ to His companions on their way back to London, ‘”She is an angelic woman, an example to all in her unselfish love. Yes, she is a perfect woman. An angel.”’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 107)


His kind heart went out to those who were ill. If He could alleviate a pain or discomfort, He set about to do so. We are told that one old couple who were ill in bed for a month had twenty visits from the Master during that time. In ‘Akka, He daily sent a servant to inquire about the welfare of the ill, and as there was no hospital in the town, He paid a doctor a regular salary to look after the poor. The doctor was instructed not to tell Who provided this service. When a poor and crippled woman was shunned on contracting measles, the Master, on being informed, ‘immediately engaged a woman to care for her; took a room, put comfortable bedding (His own) into it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed. He went to see that she had every attention, and when she died in peace and comfort, He it was Who arranged her simple funeral, paying all charges.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s kind heart went out to those who were ill. If He could alleviate a pain or discomfort, he set about to do so. We are told that one old couple who were ill in bed for a month had twenty visits from the Master during that time in Akka. He daily sent a servant to inquire about the welfare of the ill, and as there was no hospital in town, He paid a doctor a regular salary to look after the poor. The doctor was instructed not to tell Who provided this service. When a poor and crippled woman was shunned on contracting measles, the Master, on being informed, ‘immediately engaged a woman to care for her; took a room, put comfortable bedding (His own) into it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed. He went to see that she had every attention, and when she died in peace and comfort, He it was Who arranged her simple funeral, paying all charges.
(Honnold, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43-4)


Lua Gestinger, one of the early Bahá’ís of America, tells of an experience she had in Akká. She had made the pilgrimage to the prison-city to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One day He said to her that He was too busy today to call upon a friend of His who was very poor and sick. He wished Lua to go in His place. He told her to take food to the sick man and care for him as He had been doing.
Lua learned the address and immediately went to do as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had asked. She felt proud that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had trusted her with some of His own work. But soon she returned to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in a state of excitement. “Master,” she exclaimed, “You sent me to a very terrible place! I almost fainted from the awful smell, the dirty rooms, the degrading condition of that man and his house. I left quickly before I could catch some terrible disease.” Sadly and sternly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gazed at her. If she wanted to serve God, He told her, she would have to serve her fellow man, because in every person she should see the image and likeness of God. Then He told her to go back to the man’s house. If the house was dirty, she should clean it. If the man was dirty, she should bathe him. If he was hungry, she should feed him. He asked her not to come back until all of this was done. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has done these things many times for this man, and he told Lua Getsinger that she should be able to do them once. This is how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught Lua to serve her fellow man.
(Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, Chapter 6)


On pilgrimage May Maxwell came to realize that every word and every act of the Master’s had meaning and purpose. The pilgrim party was invited to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá under the cedar trees on Mount Carmel where He had been in the habit of sitting with Bahá’u’lláh. She recalled that ‘on Sunday morning we awakened with the joy and hope of the meeting on Mount Carmel. The Master arrived quite early and after looking at me, touching my head and counting my pulse, still holding my hand He said to the believers present: “There will be no meeting on Mount Carmel to-day...we could not go and leave one of the beloved of God alone and sick. We could none of us be happy unless all the beloved were happy.” We were astonished. That anything so important as this meeting in that blessed spot should be cancelled because one person was ill and could not go seemed incredible. It was so contrary to all ordinary habits of thought and action, so different from the life of the world where daily events and material circumstances are supreme in importance that it gave us a genuine shock of surprise, and in that shock the foundations of the old order began to totter and fall. The Master’s words had opened wide the door of God’s Kingdom and given us a vision of that infinite world whose only law is love. This was but one of many times that we saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá place above every other consideration the love and kindness, the sympathy and compassion due to every soul. Indeed, as we look back upon that blessed time spent in His presence we understand that the object of our pilgrimage was to learn for the first time on earth what love is, to witness its light in every face, to feel its burning heat in every heart and to become ourselves enkindled with this divine flame from the Sun of Truth, the Essence of whose being is love.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87)


A man, ill with tuberculosis, was avoided by his friends—even his family was fearful and hardly dared enter his room. The Master needed only to hear of it and ‘thereafter went daily to the sick man, took him delicacies, read and discoursed to him, and was alone with him when he died.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 44)