Sightseeing

Upon returning to New York at the end of the month, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to meet the people and answer their questions. One person asked how he liked all the tall buildings in America. He responded, “I have not come to see very tall buildings or places of interest in America. I look always for the foundation of the love of God in the realm of the hearts. I have no inclination to see other sights.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 148)


In a similar vein, the manager of the luxurious Plaza Hotel in New York once offered to give ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a tour of the elegant building. The Master declined and later told the friends, “When I see magnificent buildings and beautiful scenery, I contrast them with the memories of the prison, and of the persecutions suffered by the Blessed Beauty and my heart is moved and I seek to avoid such sightseeing excursions.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 148)


During our dinner at 7:30 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ sat and talked with us. Mr. Parsons [Agnes Parsons’ husband] suggested going one evening to the Library of Congress to see it lighted, but never dreamed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would wish to add another activity to this already full day. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “Let us go tonight.” We first went up on the elevator to the rotunda looking down on the reading room. Two of the bronze figures were examined, when Mr. Parsons turned to conduct the party to another part of the Library. When it was told to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that Mr. Parsons would like to show Him over some other part of the building, He replied, “When one undertakes to see a thing one should see it,” and continued around the rotunda until He had looked carefully at and asked the name of each bronze figure. After doing this part of the Library, we went with Mr. Parsons to his Division and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began to see it as thoroughly as He had examined the figures. Mr. Parsons turned to me and said: If we go over this Division so thoroughly the lights will be turned off before we shall have finished. Just at this moment, Mr. [Bernard R.] Greene, the Superintendent of the building appeared, met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and gave the order that the lights were to be left on and no doors were to be locked for the present. Thus there was time to show ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the stacks, some of the machinery for moving books and also some Turkish books. And so ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had the opportunity of giving us a lesson in thoroughness.
(Agnes Parsons’ Diary, April 21, 1912)


George was talking with Ahmad Sohrab and mentioned that Dublin, being in the mountains, was a good place for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to rest. Though He was beyond what George thought was hearing range, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered him, saying, “Our aim is not to rest, but to become assisted to serve the Cause no matter where we are. Our purpose is to become enabled to render a service at the Holy Threshold. If this be realized, it will be very good. Otherwise, life itself is meaningless.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 155)