Transformation

Another time we were told that we could have an interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and mother went with me when I had one. I asked Him, “What can I do to serve this Faith?” The Master paced up and down the room... “Study. Study. Study.” So many times the Master would repeat things three times. That was the message for me. Always the Master knew the thing that would bring fullest development into the individual’s life. If it was requested, He guided the person to it.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 60)


On August 20th there arrived at Green Acre a young man, dishevelled, tremulous. His name was Fred Mortensen. Let him tell his story in his own words. He wrote it for the magazine, The Star of the West:
In my youth my environment was not of the best and being around boys of hard character I guess I determined to be as tough as any, which I very easily did, though inwardly I always had a feeling to be above it all. Still I always felt that I should do in Rome as the Romans do. So I violated any law I saw fit, man’s or God’s. Strange as it seems to me at times, it was through coming into contact with these laws that I received the opportunity to be guided into this most wonderful Revelation.
‘My dear mother had done everything in her power to make me a good boy. I have but the deepest love for her and my heart has often been sad when thinking how she must have worried for my safety as well as for my future well-being. Through it all and in a most wonderful way, with a god-like patience, she hoped and prayed that her boy would find the road which leadeth to righteousness and happiness. But environment proved a great barrier to her aspirations and every day in every way I became tougher and tougher. Fighting was a real pleasure, as welcome as a meal, and breaking a grocer’s window to steal his fruit or what-not was, as I thought, a great joke.
‘It happened that one night the “gang” was strolling along, just doing nothing in particular (looking for trouble I guess), when one of the gang said, “Oh look at the swell bunch of bananas.” “Gee, I wisht I had some,” another said. “Do you?” said I. About this time I heard a dog barking inside the store, and looking in, I saw a large bulldog. That seemed to aggravate me and, to show my contempt for the watch-dog, I guess, I broke the window, took the bananas, passed them around and we merrily strolled up the street … I plainly remember that it cost me sixteen dollars to pay for broken windows, to keep out of jail.
’ … I was a fugitive for four years, having walked out of jail while awaiting trial. Then—a young fellow was being arrested and I, of course, tried to take him away from the policeman. While this was going on a couple of detectives happened along and in my haste to get away from them I leaped over a thirty-five foot wall, breaking my leg, to escape the bullets whizzing around about—and wound up in the “garden at the feet of the Beloved” as Bahá’u’lláh has so beautifully written it in the Seven Valleys.
‘At this time I was defended by our departed, but illustrious Bahá’í brother, Albert Hall, to whom I owe many thanks and my everlasting good will for helping to free me from the prison of men and of self. It was he who brought me from out the dark prison house; it was he who told me, hour after hour, about the great love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for all his children and that he was here to help us show that love for our fellowmen. Honestly, I often wondered then what Mr. Hall meant when he talked so much about love, God’s love, Bahá’u’lláh’s love, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s love, love for the Covenant … I was bewildered. Still, I returned, to become more bewildered, so I thought; and I wondered why… Thus the Word of God gave me a new birth …
‘Again through the attraction of the Holy Spirit I was urged, so it seemed to me, to go to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was at Green Acre, Maine, at this time, and when I heard the rumor that he might go back to his home (Palestine) and not come west, I immediately determined to go and see him I wasn’t going to miss meeting
‘Abdu’l-Bahá after waiting so long to see him.
‘So I left home, going to Cleveland, where I attended a convention of printers for a few days. But I became so restless I could not stay for adjournment. How often I have thought about that trip of mine from Cleveland to Green Acre I The night before leaving Cleveland I had a dream that I was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s guest, that I sat at a long table, and many others were there, too, and of how he walked up and down telling stories, emphasizing with his hand. This later, was fulfilled and he looked just as I saw him in Cleveland.
‘As my finances were low I of necessity must hobo my way to Green Acre. The Nickel Plate Railway was my choice, for conveyance to Buffalo, New York. From Buffalo I again rode the rods to Boston, a long ride from around midnight until nine next morning. The Boston and Maine Railway was the last link between ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the outside world so it seemed to me, and when I crawled off from the top of one of its passenger trains at Portsmouth New Hampshire, I was exceedingly happy. A boat ride, a street car ride, and there I was, at the gate of Paradise. My heart beating double time, I stepped onto the soil of that to-be-famous center, tired, dirty, and wondering, but happy.
‘I had a letter of introduction from Mr. Hall to Mr. Lunt, and in searching for him I met Mrs. Edward Kinney, who dear soul, was kind enough to offer me a bed. She awakened me next morning about six o‘clock, saying I‘d have to hurry if I wished to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
‘Arriving at the hotel I found quite a number of people there, on the same mission, to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Being one of the last arrivals, I was looking around, to make myself comfortable, when someone exclaimed, “Here he comes, now”. Ahmad Sohrab did the introducing and interpreting. When Ahmad introduced me to him, to my astonishment he looked at me and only said, “Ugh! Ugh!” not offering to shake hands with me. Coming as I had, and feeling as I did, I was very much embarrassed. After greeting several others and when about to go to his room, he suddenly turned to me and said in a gruff voice (at least I thought so), “Sit down,” and pointed to a chair—which I didn’t care to do, as elderly ladies were standing. But what was I to do! I meekly obeyed, feeling rebellious over what had happened. Such a welcome, after making that difficult trip! My mind sure was in a whirl.
‘The first man to receive an interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a doctor; he had written a book on love. It seemed but a minute until Ahmad came down and said,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wishes to see Mr. Mortensen.” Why, I nearly wilted. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t expected to be called until the very last thing. I had to go, and it was with a strange feeling in my heart and wondering, wondering what would happen next. He welcomed me with a smile and a warm hand-clasp, telling me to be seated, he sitting before me. His first words were, “Welcome! Welcome! You are very welcome,—then, “Are you happy?”—which was repeated three times. I thought, why do you ask me that so many times? Of course I am happy; didn’t I tell you so the first time?
‘Then, “Where did you come from?"
‘Answer: “From Minneapolis."
‘Question: “Do you know Mr. Hall?"
‘Answer: “Yes, he told me about the Cause."
‘Question: “Did you have a pleasant journey?‘
‘Of all the questions I wished to avoid this was the one! I dropped my gaze to the floor—and again he put the question. I lifted my eyes to his and his were as two black, sparkling jewels, which seemed to look into my very depths I knew he knew and I must tell, and as I answered I wondered what Ahmad thought—if I was a little unbalanced.
‘I answered: “I did not come as people generally do, who come to see you.
‘Question: “How did you come?"
‘Answer: “Riding under and on top of the railway trains."
‘Question: “Explain how."
‘Now as I looked into the eyes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá I saw they had changed and a wondrous light seemed to pour out. It was the light of love and I felt relieved and very much happier. I explained to him how I rode on the trains, after which he kissed both my cheeks, gave me much fruit, and kissed the dirty hat I wore, which had become soiled on my trip to see him.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 245-251)


On the night of 20 August, a horrifying young man came to a meeting at the Kinney’s house. From head to foot he was covered with soot. His blue eyes stared out from a dark gray face. This was Fred Mortensen, a reformed criminal. When he was young Fred had got into all kinds of trouble, determined to be “as tough as any”. One day, Fred and his gang saw some bananas in a shop window and thought that they looked really good. Fred later wrote, “About this time I heard a dog barking inside the store, and looking in, I saw a large bulldog. That seemed to aggravate me, and, to show my contempt for the watchdog … I broke the window, took the bananas, and passed them around … It cost me $16 to pay for broken Windows, to keep out of jail.” But in 1904, Fred’s brothers and gang decided to rob a train. Fred’s younger brother stole a big bag of mail. Then Fred spotted the police racing up, so the gang split in all directions. Fred didn’t think his younger brother could outrun the police while carrying the bag of mail, so he took it and ran. His brother escaped, but that left the police to chase him. “In my haste to get away from them, I leaped over a 35 foot wall, breaking my leg, to escape the bullets whizzing around about – and wound up in the garden at the feet of the Beloved”. At Fred’s trial he was defended by Albert Hall, who introduced him to the Faith: “It was he who brought me from out the dark prison house; it was he who told me, hour after hour, about the great love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for all his children and that he was here to help us show that love for our fellowmen. Honestly, I often wondered then what Mr. Hall meant when he talked so much about love, God’s love, Bahá’u’lláh’s love, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s love, love for the Covenant, love for us, from us to God, to his prophets, etc. I was bewildered.
Fred’s great-grandson, Justin Penoyer writes: Because Fred could not read at this time, Hall gave him a dictionary to use in order to read a Bahá’í book, also provided by Hall. With these new books, Fred taught himself how to read. For reasons even he did not completely understand that the time, Fred’s experience in jail had a profound impact. However, as soon as he was able to walk, Fred decided it was time to leave. While in jail, he lured the guard close enough to his cell to take him by the neck, strangle him to unconsciousness, and take the keys. Fred spent the next four years as a fugitive. He fled first to California, where he worked for the Oakland paper. After experiencing the great earthquake of 1906 … Fred decided the Midwest was a far safer region. He then toured the Dakotas, moving from town to town, occasionally finding employment with local papers. It was during this time that Fred rediscovered the book given to him by Albert Hall. Yet unlike four years prior, … His mind became fixated upon the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Though faced with possible arrest, in 1910, he returned to Minneapolis to visit Hall … to learn more about the Bahá’í Faith: “I returned to become more bewildered, so I thought; and I wondered why.” Fred was in regular communication with Albert Hall who, despite his status as an attorney, did not turn them into the police. This, combined with Fred’s surprise that a complete lack of attention given by the authorities, gave the impression that he need no longer fear prosecution for his jailbreak. No longer a fugitive, Fred moved to Minneapolis. When he heard that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at Green Acre, and that he might go back to his home (Palestine) and not come West, I immediately determined to go and see him. I wasn’t going to miss meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá after waiting so long to see Him … So I left home, going to Cleveland. Despite his enthusiasm, Fred was anxious about meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After all, who was he, a poor man with dubious history, to meet one such as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá? Yet the night before he left Cleveland, Fred had a dream: I was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s guest; that I Sat at a long table, and many others were there, too, and of how He walked up and down telling stories, emphasizing with His hand. This, later, was fulfilled and He looked just as I saw Him in Cleveland. Because his funds were low, Fred had to hobo his way to Green Acre. Trains ran, at this time, on coal power; coated with soot and grime, were filthy outside the travelers compartments. This was not only most unpleasant, but also dangerous and exhausting. “Riding the rods", as it was known, Fred hopped a coal train on the Nickel Plate Railway from Cleveland to Buffalo, New York. He arrived around midnight, where he then jumped a train headed for Boston, arriving around nine next morning. Fred continues the story: “The Boston and Maine railway was the last link between ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the outside world so it seemed to me, and when I crawled off from the top of one of its passenger trains at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I was exceedingly happy. A boat ride, a street car ride, and there I was, at the gate of Paradise. My heart beating double time … I had a letter of introduction from Mr. Hall to Mr. Lunt, and in searching for him, I met Mrs. Edward Kinney, who, dear soul, was kind enough to offer me a bed. She awakened me next morning about six o‘clock, saying I‘d have to hurry if I wished to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Arriving at the hotel, I found quite a number of people … on the same mission, to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Being one of the last arrivals, I was looking around when someone exclaimed, “Here he comes, now”. When Ahmad [Sohrab] introduced me to him, to my astonishment he looked at me and only said, “Ugh!Ugh!", not offering to shake hands with me. Coming as I had, and feeling as I did, I was very much embarrassed. After greeting several others Ahmad was about to go to His room, he suddenly turned to me and said in a gruff voice… “Sit down", and pointed to a chair. I meekly obeyed, feeling rebellious over what had happened. Such a welcome, after making that difficult trip! My mind was in a whirl. It seemed but a minute until Ahmad came down and said; “‘Abdu’l-Bahá wishes to see Mr. Mortensen.” Why, I nearly wilted. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t expected to be called until the very last thing … He welcomed me with a smile and a warm hand clasp. His first words were “Welcome! Welcome! You are very welcome", then, “Are you happy?” – Which was repeated three times. I Thought, “why do you ask me that so many times? Of course I am happy”
Then, Where did you come from?
Answer: from Minneapolis.
Question: Do you know Mr. Hall?
Answer: Yes, he told me about the Cause.
Question. Did you have a pleasant journey?
Of all the questions I wished to avoid this was the one! I dropped my gaze to the floor – and again He put the question. I lifted my eyes to His and His were as two black, sparkling jewels, which seemed to look into my very depths. I knew He knew and I must tell.
Answer: Riding under and on top of railway cars.
Question: Explain how.
Now as I looked into the eyes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I saw they had changed and a wondrous light seemed to pour out. It was the light of love and I felt relieved and very much happier. I explained to Him how I rode on the trains, after which He kissed both my cheeks, gave me much fruit, and kissed the dirty Hat I wore … When He was ready to leave Green Acre I stood nearby to say goodbye and to my astonishment He ordered me to get into the automobile with Him. After a week with Him at Malden, Massachusetts, I left for home with never-to-be-forgotten memories of the wonderful event – the meeting of God’s Covenant.
Fred story was far from over, for he became a very different person. After this time with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Fred later recollected his experience: “These events are engraved upon the tablet of my heart and I love every moment of them. The words of Bahá’u’lláh are my food, my drink, and my life. I have no other aim than to be of service in His pathway and to be obedient to His Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá referred to Fred as “My son", yet because of his appearance and the attention ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had shown him, certain Bahá’ís became jealous and this resulted in Fred’s near expulsion from the early Bahá’í community.
But just a year later, Fred received a tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “That trip of mine from Minneapolis to Green Acre will never be forgotten. It’s mention will be recorded eternally in books and works of history. Therefore, be thou happy that, praise be to God, thou hast an illumined heart, a living spirit, and art vivified with merciful breath. As Fred’s great-grandson writes, 32 years later … The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith included Fred’s story in God Passes By, and on his passing in 1946, cabled to his family: “Grief passing beloved Fred. Welcome assured in the Abhá Kingdom by Master. His name is forever inscribed Bahá’í history.” Hand of the Cause Louis Gregory called him “Frederick the Great.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 168-172)


We are told that there was one name that always brought joy to the face of Bahá’u’lláh. His expression would change at the mention of Mary Magdalen’s name. Here was a woman who was transformed ‘from the gentle, appealing mistress of Novatus to the saintly disciple of Jesus Christ...’ The Master said to Ethel Rosenberg, the first English woman to embrace the Bahá’í Faith in her native land, ‘It is said of Mary Magdalen that out of her went seven devils. This means seven evil qualities which Jesus cast out of her by teaching her the Truth. She was not such a bad woman as some suppose before her conversion but the wonder is that such a saint and miracle of purity and goodness could have been created by the New Birth. She was greater than all of the disciples of Jesus because she alone stood firm after His death and never wavered.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 53)


Already in AB’s day relief funds had been established. He encouraged the Save the Children Fund. The Haifa Relief Fund had been created to alleviate the misery of the local population—twice the Master contributed fifty Egyptian pounds. After the first contribution His name was placed first on the contributors’ list. After receiving the second, the Military Governor, G.A. Stanton, wrote a letter of gratitude in which he stated, ‘Please accept on behalf of the committee of management, my very sincerest and most grateful thanks for this further proof of your well-known generosity and care of the poor, who will forever bless you for your liberality on their behalf.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 77)


When he was very young, people thought of Abdu’llah Baghdadi as a libertine, solely devoted to pleasure. He was regarded by all as the sport of inordinate desires, mired down in his physical passions. But the moment he became a believer, he was carried away by the sweet savors of God, and was changed into a new creation. He found himself in a strange rapture, completely transformed. 130 He had been of the world, now he was of Heaven; he had lived by the flesh, now he lived by the spirit; he had walked in darkness; now he walked in light. He had been a slave to his senses, now he was a thrall of God. He had been clay and earthenware before, now he was a dear-bought pearl; a dull and lusterless stone before, now a ruby glowing. Even among the non-believers, people were astonished at the change. What could have come over this youth, they wanted to know; how did it happen that he was suddenly detached from the world, eager and devoted? “He was tainted, corrupted,” they said; “today he is abstemious and chaste. He was sunk in his appetites, but is now the soul of purity, living a righteous life. He has left the world behind him. He has broken up the feast, dismissed the revelers, and folded the banquet cloth away. His mind is distracted by love.” Briefly, he let go his pleasures and possessions, and journeyed to ‘Akká on foot. His face had turned so bright, his nature so luminous, that it was a joy to look at him. I used to say: “Aqa Abdu’llah, what condition are you in?” And he would answer to this effect: “I was in darkness; now, by the favor of the Blessed Beauty, I am in light. I was a heap of dust; He changed me to a fertile field. I was in constant torment; I am now at peace. I was in love with my chains; He has broken them. I was avid for this one and that; now I cling to the Lord. I was a bird in a cage; He let me out. Today, though I live in the desert, and I have the bare ground for my bed and pillow, it feels like silk. In the old time, my coverlet was satin, and my soul was on the rack. Now I am homeless, and happy.” But his burning heart broke when he saw how victimized was Bahá’u’lláh, how patiently He suffered. Abdu’llah yearned to die for Him. And thus it came about that he offered up his life for his tender Companion, and hastened away, out of this dark world to the country of light. His luminous grave is in ‘Akká. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious; upon him be mercy, out of the grace of the Lord.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 129)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not afraid of silence; indeed, He knew its virtue. Howard Colby Ives has recalled: ‘To the questioner He responded first with silence – an outward silence. His encouragement always was that the other should speak and He listen. There was never that eager tenseness, that restlessness so often met showing most plainly that the listener has the pat answer ready the moment he should have a chance to utter it.’ And Ives recounts a charming story about another Unitarian minister who was interviewing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for an article on the Bahá’í Faith. His questions were long. The Master listened ‘with unwearied attention’, replying mostly in monosyllables, but relaxed and interested. A great ‘understanding love’ flowed from Him to the minister. Ives grew impatient, but not the Master; His guest must be heard fully. When at last His questioner paused, after a brief silence, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to him with wisdom and love, calling him, ‘my dear son’. Within five minutes the minister ‘had become humble, for the moment, at least, a disciple at His feet…. Then ‘Abdi‘l-Bahá rose… lovingly embraced the doctor and led him towards the door. At the threshold He paused. His eyes had lighted upon a large bunch of American Beauty roses… He laughed aloud… stooped, gathered the whole bunch in His arms… and placed them in the arms of His visitor. Never shall I forget that round, bespectacled, grey head above that immense bunch of lovely flowers. So surprised, so radiant, so humble, so transformed.’(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of “‘Abdu’l-Bahá)


Lua Getsinger – spiritual mother of both Mrs Hearst and May Bolles (Maxwell) – was a member of a pilgrim group, late in 1898. For the following eighteen years she returned time and again to ‘Akka and Haifa. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá entrusted her with vital teaching missions, and constantly instructed her in the path of divine love. During one of her visits to the Middle East, the Master told her, ‘Thou must be firm and unshakable in thy purpose, and never, never let any outward circumstances worry thee. I am sending thee to India to accomplish certain definite results. Thou must enter that country with a never-failing spirituality, a radiant faith, an eternal enthusiasm, an inextinguishable fire, a solid conviction, in order that thou mayest achieve those services for which I am sending thee. Let not they heart be troubled. If thou goest away with this unchanging condition of invariability of inner state, thou shalt see the doors of confirmation open before thy face, they life will be a crown of heavenly roses, and thou shalt find thyself in the highest station of triumph. ‘Strive day and night to attain to this exalted state. Look at me! Thou dost not know a thousandth part of the difficulties and seemingly unsurmountable passes that rise daily before my eyes. I do not heed them: I am walking in my chosen highway.’ Lua grew impatient to grow spiritually. Impetuous by nature, she wanted instant perfection the better to serve ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but the Master taught her that she could not stand that – perfection is a slowly evolving process. Her passion for her Faith and her love for the Master knew no bounds. The physical world became less important to her as she grew in spirituality. Even her style of dress changed before her premature death in 1916. She had abandoned her old finery. Instead she always wore a conservative blue outfit. During her last years she lived only in and for the world of the spirit.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 144)


To Ethel Rosenberg, the first English woman to embrace the Bahá’í Faith in her native land, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, while she was on pilgrimage in the Holy Land in 1901, ‘We must strive to change our bad qualities into good ones, quick temper must be changed into calmness, pride into humility, falsehood into truth, deceit into frankness, laziness into activity …’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 158)


When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to Boston in May, many people invited Harry Randall to meet Him, but invariably he said, “No. I do not care to meet him. I know he is a wonderful man, but I do not care to meet him.” Finally, someone asked if Harry would at least go and listen to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which he agreed to do. Harry did go and listen to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk and afterwards, one of the friends asked if he would run to the grocery, buy some grape juice and take it to the Master at the Victoria Hotel. Harry did so, purchasing six bottles of grape juice, and took them to the hotel. He gave them to a Persian man who soon returned with a glass of juice on a tray and asked, You’ve been so kind as to get this grape juice for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Mr. Randall, would you take it in to Him yourself?” This is the last thing Harry wanted to do because he had an “inner warning” not to, that he thought that would be discourteous so he accepted the tray. When he arrived at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s room, he hoped to just put the tray on a table and escape. At first, it looked as though he might be able to do just that since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was sitting in the center of a large room with his eyes closed. Harry didn’t want to disturb the Master, but finally said, “Here is the glass of grape juice.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá opened his eyes and told Harry to put it on the table and that He would have it with His dinner. Harry turned and walked to the door, thinking that he was going to escape when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá suddenly said, “Sit down."
Harry later wrote: it was said in a most commanding manner which invited no argument. Although His eyes were closed again, I Sat. I waited. And I waited. I was not used to being kept waiting and I was getting angry clear through. I felt I had almost been trapped, so to speak. Pretty soon it seemed to me that every part of my body had gone to sleep. I had that same prickling all over my body. I had it in my arms and legs and I was feeling very uncomfortable and getting angrier and angrier all the time. The clock ticked the minutes away and I looked over at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and said to myself: He is gone sound asleep and I have to wait here! I did not know then that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was wide awake and I was sound asleep. The minutes ticked away and finally I said to myself: I have got sit here. I do not dare go now. I have practically consented by sitting down to stay. Suddenly I thought, here I am in the presence of the tired old man and I cannot remain reposefull for 10 min. What good is my study of all the religions of the world done for me? When I thought this I became quiet and the prickly sensation left me and I was at peace. Well, in about 20 min. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to me: “You have just been wasting your time listening to the murmur of the leaves that have fallen off the tree of life. If you want life you must become a leaf upon the tree of life … Great is the power of the intellect but until it becomes the servant of the heart it is of little avail.” He arose and held my hands and looked into my face and stroked me, all in silence for some time. Then He spoke softly in Persian and my mind heard this in English: “Great is the power of the intellect but it is dead without love. It needs the vivifying fragrance of love to make it the servant of God.” He then blessed me and said, “Be happy”.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 174-175)