The Priceless Pearl
THE DEEPEST TIESHowever faithful and tender Shoghi Effendi's relationships were throughout his life with those closest to him, his supreme relationship was with the Greatest Holy Leaf. When she passed away in 1932 the news reached him in Interlaken, Switzerland. Although he was well aware of her condition, which he described in 1929 when he wrote that the Greatest Holy Leaf was "Now in the evening of her life, with deepening shadows caused by failing eyesight and declining strength swiftly gathering about her"; although he had had a premonition of her swiftly approaching death, when he wrote in March 1932 to the American believers urging them to press on with the completion of the dome of "our beloved Temple" and said that "my voice is once more reinforced by the passionate, and perhaps, the last, entreaty, of the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose spirit, now hovering on the edge of the Great Beyond, longs to carry on its flight to the Abha Kingdom...an assurance of the joyous consummation of an enterprise, the progress of which has so greatly brighten the closing days of her earthly life"; although she was now eighty-two years old - none of this softened the blow or mellowed the grief that overwhelmed the Guardian. On 15 July he cabled America announcing that her spirit had taken its flight to that Great Beyond, bewailing the "sudden removal of my sole earthly sustainer, the joy and solace of my life" and informing the friends that "So grievous a bereavement necessitates suspension for nine months throughout the Bahá'í world every manner religious festivity"; memorial meetings were to be held everywhere, locally and nationally, for her, the "last remnant of Bahá'u'lláh".
But it was on 17 July the he wrote to the American and Canadian believers a letter that provides a glimpse of what was passing in the surging sea of his heart and in which he eulogizes the life, station and deeds of 'Abdu'l-Bahá sister, pouring forth his love in an unforgettable torrent of words. [page 145]
Dearly-beloved Greatest Holy Leaf!What the Greatest Holy Leaf had done for Shoghi Effendi at the time of the Master's passing and in the years that followed is beyond calculation. She had played, as he said, a unique part throughout the tumultuous stages of Bahá'í history, not the least of which had been the establishment of Shoghi Effendi's own ministry after the death of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. "Which of the blessings am I to recount," wrote Shoghi Effendi, "which in her unfailing solicitude she showered upon me, in the most critical and agitated hours of my life?" He said that to him she had been an incarnation of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's all-encompassing tenderness and love. As her life had waned his had waxed. With what deep satisfaction she must have seen, as the tide of her own life receded from the shores of this world, that Shoghi Effendi was become strong in his Guardianship, able to face the incessant blows he received with the fortitude of a man now fully grown into his stupendous task.
After the passing of the Master Shoghi Effendi had become Bahiyyih "Khanum's all in all, the very centre of her life - for him she had always been, next to his grandfather, the most beloved person in the world. I recall how, on one occasion during my 1923 pilgrimage with my mother, there was a large meeting attended by the [page 146] Bahá'í men in the central hall of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's home; my mother and Edith Sanderson were seated there beside the Guardian but I had joined the women in a room opening on to it. We sat in the dark so that we could leave the door open (in those days the eastern men and women, following the custom of the country, were entirely sequestered) and hear a little of what was going on. It seems that some oriental believer, suddenly overcome by emotion, had got up and flung himself at the feel of Shoghi Effendi; we in our room could not see what had happened but only hear a great hubbub going on outside. The Greatest Holy Leaf, so slender and frail, jumped to feet with a loud cry, fearing that something had happened to the young Guardian. She was quieted when someone brought the news nothing serious had occurred, but her anguish had been so evident the scene imprinted itself on my mind forever.
Until the time of her death it was Shoghi Effendi's custom to have his one meal a day alone with her, served on a small table in her bedroom. he told me that often, when she saw how upset he was, she used to tell him he should not eat when he was in this condition as it was very bad for his health. Another story he told me of her was how, when he had insisted she receive as an inheritance from 'Abdu'l-Bahá a small sum of money, she had offered a large part of it to defray the expense of building the next terrace in front of the Shrine of the Bab in fulfilment of her Brother's cherished plan.
So close was the communion between Shoghi Effendi and his great-aunt that over and over, in cables and other communications, particularly during the early years of his Guardianship, he included her with himself in such phrases as "assure us", "the Greatest Holy Leaf and I", "we", and so on. In a cable sent in 1931 he even signs it "Bahiyyih Shoghi". Nothing could be more revealing of this intense love he had for her than the fact that on the day we were married it was to her room, where everything was preserved as it was in her days, standing beside her bed, that the Guardian went to have the simple Bahá'í marriage ceremony of hand in hand performed and we each repeated the words in Arabic: "We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God."
This love the Guardian had for the Greatest Holy Leaf, who had watched over him for thirty-five years as far more than a mother, continued to be demonstrated for the remainder of his life. When the news of her death reached him in Switzerland his first act was to plan for her grave a suitable memorial which he hastened to Italy to order. No one could possibly call this exquisitely proportioned [page 147] monument, built of shining white Carrara marble, anything but what it appears - a love temple, the embodiment of Shoghi Effendi's love. he had undoubtedly conceived its design from buildings of a similar style and, under his supervision, an artist now incorporated his concept in the monument he planned to erect on her resting-place. Shoghi Effendi used to compare the stages in the Administrative Order of the Faith to this monument, saying the platform of three steps was like the local Assemblies, the pillars like the National Assemblies, and the dome that crowned them and held them together like the Universal House of Justice, which could not be placed in position until the foundations and pillars were first firmly erected. After the Greatest Holy Leaf's monument had been completed in all its beauty he had a photograph of it sent to many different Assemblies, as well as to a special list of individuals to whom he wished to present so tender a memento.
The armchair he had always sat in in her room he moved to the place where he often sat for a respite in his work and continued to use it until the end of his life; his bedroom was filled with photographs of her, at different stages of her life, and more than one picture showing her monument. In a strongly moving cable, sent to America seven months after her passing, in which he praises the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the champion builders of the World Order, he adds "Founder of our Faith well pleased tokens their wise stewardship 'Abdu'l-Bahá proud of their valour Greatest Holy Leaf radiant with joy their fidelity". He wrote that her memory would remain an "ennobling influence...amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world." He adorned the Archives with the illuminated Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá addressed to her, placed photographs of her and her monument in them, and some of her personal belongs and mementos. The day he told me that he had chosen me to be his wife he placed on my finger the simple gold ring engraved with the symbol of the Greatest Name which the Greatest Holy Leaf had given him years before as his Bahá'í ring; he told me this should not be seen by anyone for the time being and I wore it around my neck on a chain until the day of our marriage.
In every act of his life he associated the Greatest Holy Leaf with his services to the Faith. When he entombed the remains of the mother and brother of Bahiyyih "Khanum on Mt Carmel he cabled: "...cherished wish Greatest Holy Leaf fulfilled", referring to her often expressed desire to be buried near them. On that momentous [page 148] occasion he said he rejoiced at the privilege of pledging one thousand pounds as his contribution to the Bahiyyih "Khanum Fund designed to inaugurate the final drive connected with the completion of the American Temple. He wrote that this transfer and reburial were events of "capital institutional significance". He said "the conjunction of the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf with those of her brother and mother incalculably reinforces the spiritual potencies of that consecrated Spot" which was "destined to evolved into the focal centre of those world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing Administrative institutions, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh..."
When 'Abdu'l-Bahá's mantle, as Head of the Faith, fell on Shoghi Effendi's shoulders a great change came over him. What the nature of that change was spiritually is not possible for us - so infinitely remote in both station and stature - to grasp or to define. Many times he used to tell me "when they read the Master's Will to me, I ceased to be a normal human being." The always personable and noble young man, now, and ever increasingly as the years went by, had the stamp of kingship in his face, his manner, his walk and gestures. It was not assumed, it was never an imitation of his grandfather, it was almost one might say an endowed changed. Shoghi Effendi was never really intimate with anyone except the closest members of his family and, in the early days, those who acted as his help-mates and secretaries. As years went by and his burdens increased, even this intimacy grew less, so that by the time the members of the International Bahá'í Council cam to Haifa it was very rarely that he ever saw one of its western members alone, usually to say good-bye when they were going away, or to give the Hands some instructions when they were going to represent him at a conference. The one who was most favoured in this respect was Milly Collins, whose unique love for and devotion to the Guardian had greatly endeared her to him; after my father passed away during a visit to his home in Canada, the Guardian invited Milly to come and live in the Master's house, in the room my father had occupied, because her own room in the Western Pilgrim House was damp and she suffered greatly from arthritis; with the exception of Lotfullah Hakim, the members of the International Bahá'í Council were all lodged in this building and Shoghi Effendi did all his business with the Council members at the dinner table in that Pilgrim House or through messages conveyed to it by his liaison. [page 149]
This does not mean that his kindness was not frequently showered on the council members, particularly Milly. She was the only one, except the single person in charge of his mail, who ever had his address when we were away from Haifa (except, of course, my father) and who therefore had constant access to him. So great and tender was her love for Shoghi Effendi - whom she had first met shortly after the Master's passing - that she almost never wrote to him directly but addressed her letters to me in order to spare him the necessity of writing to her direct. Well she knew that some believers had, in their innocent egotism, amassed as many as fifty, sixty or more letters from the over-burdened pen! She was determined never to add her share to such a weight and her every thought was directed to sparing him, in any way she could, the slightest extra effort and to serving him in any way that could bring some happiness to his heart. So great was her concern in these matters that, although she lived in his house, when the time came for him to go out or come in she would return to her room so as not to oblige him to expend a moment of his overtaxed time to talk to her for a few minutes. Sometimes her age and ailments would confine her to her room and then the Guardian would pay her a visit for a few moments, often bring her a gift. I remember he came one evening when she was ill and took from his own neck the soft warm cashmere shawl a Bahá'í had given him and placed it himself about hers. It became her most treasured possession and she could never forget the touch of the warmth of his neck on hers.
But such relationships were very rare in the Guardian's life. One such, however, was with my father. It has often seemed to me that of the many undeserved blessings in my life this was one of the greatest that God in His infinite mercy showered upon me - the great love between Shoghi Effendi and my father. The background of this bond goes back to the days of the beloved Guardian's marriage. Until the last decade of my father's life it had always been my mother who was the famous Bahá'í; she had come with the first group of pilgrims from the West to visit 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Akka in the winter of 1898-9; she had been the first Bahá'í on European soil, the mother of the Bahá'í communities of both France and Canada, one of the Master's earliest and most distinguished disciples and greatly loved by Him. I mention this because Shoghi Effendi once said to her, one night when he came to dinner in the Western Pilgrim House after our union, that had I not been May [page 150] Maxwell's daughter he would not have married me. This does not mean it was the only reason, but it was evidently a very powerful one, for in the cable he sent on 3 March 1940 officially announcing her death, which had taken place two days before, he said "To sacred tie her signal services had forged priceless honour martyr's death now added. Double crown deservedly won." These words clearly indicate her relationship to his marriage. In a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to one of her spiritual children He had written "her company uplifts and develops the soul". Until I came under the direct influence of the Guardian, through being privileged to be with him for over twenty years, I can truly say that my character, my faith in Bahá'u'lláh and whatever small services I had so far been able to render Him, were entirely due to her influence. From These facts it will be seen that when I arrived with my mother, on my third pilgrimage to Haifa, in January 1937, the status of my father inside the Faith can best be described as being "Mrs. Maxwell's husband".
My mother was the one who had first known Shoghi Effendi as a child, when she came to the Holy Land at the end of the last century; she had come again, in 1909, with my father but I do not know how much contact, if any, they had at that time with Shoghi Effendi. following the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá she suffered a complete break-down in health caused by the shock of his death, the news of which was broken to her very suddenly over the telephone, and for a year we did not know if she would live or die or lose her mind. My father felt that the only hope of dispelling the grief and dark thoughts that obsessed her - that she would never, because of her unworthiness, see the beloved Master in the next world - was for her to make a pilgrimage to Haifa again, this time to see the young successor of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In April 1923 we arrived in Haifa and it was Shoghi Effendi who literally resurrected a woman who was so ill she could still not walk a step and could move about only in a wheel chair. From that time the love of my mother's heart became entirely centred in the Guardian and when she was able to return to American, after we had spent two long periods in Haifa (with a break in between in Egypt while Shoghi Effendi was away in Europe), she once more served the Cause very actively. I myself again made the pilgrimage three years later with two of my mother's Bahá'í friends and so, when we arrived in 1937, it was not as strangers but as two people reaching the zenith of their love. [page 151]
Surely the simplicity of the marriage of Shoghi Effendi - reminiscent of the simplicity of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own marriage in the prison-city of Akka - should provide a thought-provoking example to the Bahá'ís everywhere. No one, with the exception of his parents, my parents and a brother and two sisters of his living in Haifa, knew it was to take place. He felt strongly urged to keep it a secret, knowing from past experience how much trouble any major event in the Cause invariably stirred up. It was therefore a stunning surprise to both the servants and the local Bahá'ís when his chauffeur drove him off, with me beside him, to visit the Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh on the afternoon of 25 March 1937. His heart drew him to that Most Sacred Spot on earth at such a moment in his life. I remember I was dressed, except for a white lace blouse, entirely in black for this unique occasion, and was a typical example of the way oriental women dressed to go out into the streets in those days, the custom being to wear black. Although I was from the West Shoghi Effendi desired me to fit into the pattern of the life in his house - which was a very oriental one - as naturally and inconspicuously as possible and I was only too happy to comply with his wishes in every way. When we arrived at Bahji and entered the Shrine he requested me to give him his ring, which I was still wearing concealed about my neck, and this he placed on the ring-finger of my right hand, the same finger that corresponded to the one of his own on which he himself had always worn it. This was the only gesture he made. He entered the inner Shrine, beneath the floor of which Bahá'u'lláh is interred, and gathered up in a handkerchief all the dried petals and flowers that the keeper of the Shrine used to take from the threshold and place in a silver receptacle at the feet of Bahá'u'lláh. After he had chanted the Tablet of Visitation we came back to Haifa and in the room of the Greatest Holy Leaf our actual marriage took place, as already mentioned. Except for this visit, the day he told me he had chosen to confer this great honour on me, and one or two brief moments in the Western Pilgrim House when he came over for dinner, I had never been alone with the Guardian. There was no celebration, no flowers, no elaborate ceremony, no wedding dress, no reception. His mother and father, in compliance with the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, signified their consent by signing our marriage certificate and then I went back to the Western Pilgrim House across the street and joined by parents (who had not been present at any of these events), and Shoghi Effendi went to attend to his own affairs. At [page 152] dinner-time, quite as usual, the Guardian appeared, showering his love and congratulations on my mother and father. He took the handkerchief, full of such precious flowers, and with his inimitable smile gave them to my mother, saying he had brought them for her from the inner Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. My parents also signed the marriage certificate and after dinner and these events were over I walked home with Shoghi Effendi, my suitcases having been taken across the street by Fujita while we were at dinner. We sat for a while with the Guardian's family and then went up to his two rooms which the Greatest Holy Leaf had had built for him so long ago.
The quietness, the simplicity, the reserve and dignity with which this marriage took place did not signify that the Guardian considered it an unimportant event - on the contrary. Over his mother's signature, but drafted by the Guardian, the following cable was sent to America: "Announce Assemblies celebration marriage beloved Guardian. Inestimable honour conferred upon handmaid of Bahá'u'lláh Ruhiyyih Khanum Miss Mary Maxwell. Union of East and West proclaimed by Bahá'í Faith cemented. Ziaiyyih mother of Guardian." A telegram similar to this was sent to Persia. This news, so long awaited, naturally produced great rejoicing amongst the Bahá'ís and messages flooded in to Shoghi Effendi from all parts of the world. To that received from the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada Shoghi Effendi replied: "Deeply moved your message. Institution Guardianship, head cornerstone Administrative Order Cause Bahá'u'lláh, already ennobled through its organic connection with Persons of Twin Founders Bahá'í Faith, is now further reinforced through direct association with West and particularly with American believers, whose spiritual destiny is to usher in World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. for my part desire congratulate community American believers on acquisition tie vitally binding them to so weighty an organ of their Faith." To innumerable other messages his practically universal answer was merely an expression of loving appreciation for their felicitations. But even in these cables we find his reactions were always attuned to the quality and sincerity of the sender. When an individual whom he neither particularly liked nor trusted cabled his congratulations (in what appeared a wholly blameless manner), the Guardian expressed no appreciation but stated "praying for you Holy Shrines" as much as to say "I do not need your congratulations but you certainly are [page 153] in need of my prayers"! One of the most touching exchanges of cables at that time took place between the Ishqabad Bahá'ís and the Guardian. Through an intermediary Shoghi Effendi cabled: "Kindly wire Ishqabad Bahá'ís greatly value message praying continually protection". When John and Louise Bosch cabled him: "Illustrious nuptial thrilled the universe" the Guardian in his reply revealed a little of how deeply the loving messages that poured in stirred him: "Inexpressibly appreciate thrilling message deepest love". Another particularly warm reply was sent to the Antipodes: "Assure loved ones Australia New Zealand profound abiding appreciation".
The most significant point, however, associated with the Guardian's marriage is the stress he laid on the fact that it had drawn the Occident and the Orient closer to each other. It had not only done this but other ties had also been reinforced and established. In reply to an inquiry from the American Assembly: "Request advice policy concerning announcement marriage" Shoghi Effendi stated: "Approve public announcement. Emphasize significance institution Guardianship union East West and linking destinies Persia America. Allude honour conferred British peoples" - a direct allusion to my Scots-Canadian father.
All this had such an effect on the American Community that its national body informed the Guardian it was sending $19 from each of its seventy-one American Assemblies "for immediate strengthening new tie binding American Bahá'ís to institution Guardianship" - truly a most unusual, purehearted wedding gift to the Cause itself!
The work of Shoghi Effendi, after our marriage, went on exactly as before. For over two months my parents stayed in Palestine, mostly at the Western Pilgrim House; although the Guardian went over almost every night for dinner with them, there was no opportunity for any deep personal intimacy to develop. At last the time came for them to leave and one day my mother said to me "Mary, do you think the Guardian will kiss me good-bye?" (although everyone referred to me by the new Persian name Ruhiyyih Khanum which the Guardian had given me, my own family were naturally allowed to call me Mary, the name they had used all my life). I had never thought of this and I repeated her remark to Shoghi Effendi, but of course did not ask him to do anything about it! My parents were leaving in the afternoon and after lunch the Guardian went alone to my mother's room in the Pilgrim House to [page 154] see her. When he had left I went to her room and she said, with her eyes shining life two stars, "he kissed me."
The years passed and in 1940 my mother, animated by a passionate desire to render the Cause some service in thanks for the infinite blessings bestowed upon her by the Master, the last of which had been this totally unexpected union of her daughter with her beloved Guardian, decided to go to South America and help in teaching the Faith in Argentina, which was just beginning to form a Bahá'í community. The deep bond which developed between my father and Shoghi Effendi really began at this time. Although the Guardian had liked my father and had been drawn to his sterling qualities when he was in Haifa, there had been neither time nor opportunity to form an intimate relationship. Now, when my mother, who was seventy years old and had been in frail health most of her life, set out for the end of the world the Guardian sensed what this meant to her husband. He cabled him on 22 January 1940: "Profoundly appreciate noble sacrifice dearest love". He cabled my mother that same day, when she was sailing, that he was "proud noble resolve". The Guardian, my father and I had consented to this long journey, but at such an age, and with a heart very far from sound, it was a risk, to say the least.
The reason I record all these personal things is because behind them, in them, pervading them was the spirit of the Guardianship and his tender hear, his own dedication to the service of the Cause, his impartial tributes as head of the faith, which were all reflected in the events that followed. My mother reached Buenos Aires and died almost immediately of a heart attack. The three cables that came, one from her asking for his prayers, one from my father saying she was very ill and to prepare me, and one from my cousin Jeanne Bolles, who had accompanied her, saying she had died, were all handed by me to Shoghi Effendi. As he read them I saw his face change and he looked at me with an expression of intense anxiety and concern. Then of course, gradually, he had to tell me she was dead. I cannot conceive that any human being ever received such pure kindness as I did from the Guardian during that period of shock and grief. His praises of her sacrifice, his descriptions of her state of joy in the next world, where, as he said in his cable to the Iraq National Assembly informing the friends of her death, "the heavenly souls seek blessings from her in the midmost paradise", his vivid depiction of her as she wandered about the Abha Kingdom making a thorough nuisance of herself because all [page 155] she wanted to talk about was her beloved daughter on earth! - all combined to lift me into a state of such happiness that many times I would find myself laughing with him over the things he seemed to be actually divining.
It was her death that really brought about the relationship between the Guardian and Sutherland Maxwell that raised him to the heights of service he was able to attain before he, too, passed away. On 2 March Shoghi Effendi cabled Daddy: "Grieve profoundly yet comforted abiding realization befitting end so noble career valiant exemplary service Cause Bahá'u'lláh. Ruhiyyih though acutely conscious irreparable loss rejoices reverently grateful immortal crown deservedly won her illustrious mother. Advise interment Buenos Aires. Her tomb designed by yourself erected by me spot she fought fell gloriously will become historic centre pioneer Bahá'í activity. Most welcome arrange affairs reside Haifa. Be assured deepest loving sympathy."
It was this message that brought my father to Haifa and enabled him, through his deep professional knowledge and experience, to become the instrument of fulfilling the plans of 'Abdu'l-Bahá by designing a suitable superstructure around the Holy Tomb of the Bab which the Master Himself had commenced. During the war years, Shoghi Effendi, increasingly afflicted by the crisis in his relationship to the members of his family, developed an affection for and intimacy with Sutherland which compensated to some extent for all the sufferings we were going through. It is not easy to be the intimate of one infinitely above you in station and not lose, through familiarity, the respect and esteem due that exalted person. But my father never failed in this. Sometimes, when he had brought a new sketch to show Shoghi Effendi, and the Guardian was sitting in bed, propped up on his pillows looking at it, he would invite Daddy to come sit beside him so they could better go over the details together. One can imagine what it meant to me to see those two beloved heads so close, one white, the other going grey at the temples! Such fleeting moments of peace and family pleasure in the stormy atmosphere of our lives sweetened what was often a very bitter cup of woe.
When my father fell desperately ill in the winter of 1949-50 his condition was despaired of by his doctors. He reached a point where he seemed to have no conscious mind left, could not recognize me, his only and idolized child, at all, and had no more control over himself than if he were six months old. If I had needed any [page 156] convincing on the subject of whether man has a soul or not I received conclusive proof of its existence at that time. When Shoghi Effendi would come in to see my father, although he could not speak, and gave no conscious sign whatever of the Guardian's nearness, a flutter, a tremor, some reaction wholly ephemeral but nevertheless visible, would pass over him because of the very presence of Shoghi Effendi. It was so extraordinary and so evident that his nurse (the best in Haifa) also noticed it was greatly puzzled by it. It went against all laws of the mind, which, as it fades, remembers the distant past more vividly than the immediate past. Shoghi Effendi determined my father should not die. At his insistence, when no one, including me, had the slightest hope, we took him with his nurse to Switzerland, where he rapidly recovered under the care of our own doctor, a recovery so complete that a few weeks later, when his new Swiss nurse and I took him for his first drive and he caught sight of a cafe in the midst of a garden, he promptly invited us to go in and have tea with him - an offer I accepted with feelings of wonder and gratitude that are indescribable. It was after this healing had taken place that the Guardian, in a message to America sent in July 1950, reporting progress in the construction of the Shrine of the Bab, was moved to allude to these events: "My gratitude is deepened by the miraculous recovery of its gifted architect, Sutherland Maxwell, whose illness was pronounced hopeless by physicians."
I often marvelled, during the years my father survived this illness which left him very frail and which manifested itself in recurring gall bladder attacks, one of which brought about his death, at the marvellous gentleness and patience Shoghi Effendi showed this old man. It was a revelation of another side of the Guardian's nature, for by temperament he was impatient, always pressed by his never-ending work. There is no adjective to describe the degree to which my father adored him. His feelings were not only based on his deep faith as a Bahá'í, the respect and obedience he owed him as Guardian of his Faith, but also on his love for him as a man he profoundly admired in every way, and of course because of the personal human relationship which he felt very deeply. I remember when my father's only living sister died in 1942, Shoghi Effendi told him that he must not consider Montreal his first home now, and this his second home, but vice versa. He also told him that now that he was increasingly helping him, he could not spare him. The attitude of Shoghi Effendi to my father's non-Bahá'í relatives [page 157] (only one sister, who died many years before, had been a believer) was very indicative of his whole nature. I remember at the time of my marriage, when these relatives wrote their warm congratulations to me, they sent their love to "Shoghi". I was a little embarrassed and undecided about how to convey this message to the Sign of God on earth, but finally decided I should do so and read him the passage from my aunt's letter. He listened carefully and after a moment said in the sweetest way "convey my love to them too". Throughout the years such messages were exchanged. How gracious, noble and unaffected he was in all his acts!
One of the ways Shoghi Effendi would show kindness to my father was by sometimes enthusiastically rubbing some attar of rose perfume on him. In the East there is no foolish prohibition against men using perfume and the Guardian was very fond of this wonderful fragrance. It was really worth seeing to watch the expression on my Scottish father's face! He came of a background and a part of the world where the use of scent for men is anathema. He never even used a scented lotion. Alarm at the thought he was now going to smell very strongly, combined with the pure joy at this loving attention being paid to him by his beloved Guardian, produced a most extraordinary expression on his face!
In 1951 the Guardian again decided to take my father to Switzerland with us; when the time came for our return to the Holy Land we were informed that the food situation was so difficult there that it would be practically impossible to give him the diet of strictly fresh things so essential to prevent a relapse in his health; he himself was anxious to visit his home and see his family after over eleven years of absence. The Guardian therefore decided to send him to Canada with his same devoted Swiss nurse who had cared for him the previous year and was now again with us. It was there, in his old home and the city of his birth, that the news of his elevation by the Guardian to the rank of Hand of the Cause reached him, at a time when his life was rapidly ebbing away.
There had truly been no room at all in the life of Shoghi Effendi for the ordeal which my father's long illness, his recovery, the recurring attacks of his ailment and his final death imposed upon him. When news came in March 1952 that he was so ill I must hasten at once to Montreal if I hoped to see him alive, it was another terrible shock. As I prepared hastily to leave, my one prayer was that if he were going to die he would pass away before I left, so that I would not leave Shoghi Effendi in the midst of all his work [page 158] only to be present at a time when my father would not even know I was there. This prayer was answered and the news came that he had been released from this world. The grief of Shoghi Effendi was so intense that I had no time to stop and think that, after all, it was my own father who had died. I mention all this because it shows the factors involved in the life of the Guardian and the waves of feeling, of trial and misfortune that beat upon the very fabric of his heart and wore it away.
After Mrs Collins and I had attended the Intercontinental Conference held in Chicago in 1953, with the Guardian's approval we went to Montreal so that I could visit my father's grave, arrange my affairs and, in compliance with his and my mother's wish, present the Canadian National Assembly with our house - the only home in Canada 'Abdu'l-Bahá had visited during His travels in North America. Shoghi Effendi did not forget those he loved; his faithfulness in all his relationships was very strong. After himself cabling to the Bahá'í Assembly of Montreal, he cabled to me the following on 9 May 1953: "Instructed Montreal Assembly gather friends grave Sutherland pay tribute memory. Advise place blossoms Shrine also purchase hundred dollars choicest flowers mostly blue cover grave my behalf. Attach following inscription grateful memory Sutherland Maxwell Hand Cause talented dearly loved architect superstructure Bab's sepulchre Shoghi. Bring copies large size photograph friends assembled grave. Cable date time gathering for remembrance Shrine". The thing that was most touching is that he should have not only given me in Haifa a vial of attar of rose to sprinkle on the grave, and flowers from the threshold of the Shrine of the Bab to place there, but should specify that he wanted me to buy for mostly blue flowers, remembering that blue was the colour Sutherland always wore. When I returned to Haifa Shoghi Effendi took many photographs I had brought, looked at them a long time, and kept them for himself. [page 159]