Letters to Grace Holley and Visalia LSA
by Shoghi Effendi and John Esslemont
compiled by Larry Gates.
14th Feb.1925 Allah'u'Abha! Mrs. Grace B. Holley, Secy. Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly Visalia, California, U.S.A. Dear Bahá'í Sister, Shoghi Effendi was very pleased to receive your letter of 14th Jan. and has asked me to reply to it. We are glad to hear that some of the seed Mr. Hyde Dunn patiently sowed there years ago has now taken root. Shoghi Effendi has been greatly cheered by reports of the fine work Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn have been doing in Australasia. By this time I think they will have established Spiritual Assemblies in all of the Capitals of Australia except Brisbane and also in Auckland, New Zealand. Within two years they hope to have a National Spiritual Assembly in Australia. Both Mr. and Mrs. Dunn appear to be very devoted souls and their work is being greatly blessed. We hope that Mrs. Brittingham's prophetic intuition will be fulfilled and that your assembly will "sound the trumpet which will arouse the great San Joaquin Valley." Limited financial means and the care of children will not prove insuperable obstacles. Christ and his disciples had but little of this world's goods, and Bahá'u'lláh and the Master were prisoners for many years and unable to travel, but that did not prevent them from raising the Call of the Kingdom very effectually. As for the children, they will, it is to be hoped, soon become Heralds of the Cause themselves, and carry the Glad Tidings wherever they go. The great thing is to "live the life" - to have our lives so saturated with the Divine teachings and the Bahá'í Spirit that people cannot fail to see a joy, a power, a love, a purity, a radiance, an efficiency in our character and work that will distinguish us from worldly-minded people and make people wonder what is the secret of this new life in us. We must become entirely selfless and devoted to God so that every day and every moment we seek to do only what God would have us do and in the way He would have us do it. If we do this sincerely then we shall have perfect unity and harmony with each other. Where there is want of harmony, there is lack of the true Bahá'í spirit. Unless we can show this transformation in our lives, this new power, this mutual love and harmony, then the Bahá'í teachings are but a name to us. There is no need to fear opposition from without if the life within be sound and vigorous. Our Heavenly Father will always give us the strength to meet and overcome tests if we turn with all our hearts to Him, and difficulties if they are met in the right spirit only make us rely on God more firmly and completely. We hope and pray that you will find many souls in your neighbourhood who are ready to receive the teachings and who will soon themselves become devoted Bahá'ís, heralds and teachers of our beloved Cause. Shoghi Effendi, the members of the Holy Family and all the friends here join in sending most cordial Abha greetings, and we pray that the confirmations of the Spirit may descend upon you in torrents.
Your brother in His service
(Sgd.) J. E. Esslemont.
My dearest spiritual brothers & sisters:-
Your most welcome letter has rejoiced my heart. I cannot but express personally to you all my loving greetings and profound admiration for your perseverance, devotion and determination to labour unceasingly for our Beloved Cause. I wish to assure you of my ardent prayers for your Assembly. May it raise the Call and attract in times to come a vast concourse of capable, sincere and devoted souls. Persevere in your work and victory will surely be yours in the end. I am eager to hear of the progress and expansion of your activities and wish you to keep always cheerful, radiant and active.
Your true brother,
[Typed by Larry Gates from photocopy from Research Department, Bahá'í World Center. A portion of this letter, from 'The great thing...' to '...but a name to us.' is cited in 'Lights of Guidance, second edition, #376' (with incorrect date and attribution to an individual) and in the Compilation 'Living the Life' found in Compilation of Compilations Vol II, #1271, (with incorrect attribution to an individual)]
[This is the letter from the Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly of Visalia, dated 14 Jan 1925, supplied by Research Department, Bahá'í World Center:]
January 14th, 1925.
TO OUR DEARLY BELOVED GUARDIAN
OF THE CAUSE, SHOGHI EFFENDI
Dear Brother in His Service:
Your cablegram of loving welcome was received, and brought us great joy. We are praying, and solicit your prayers also, that from this little nucleus may stream forth such a radiance of love that others may be attracted to our center, and from here go forth to the rest of this great Garden of the Sun (San Joaquin Valley), in the center of which we live.
Mr. Hyde Dunn patiently sowed seed here for several years, but for a long time saw no results. Yet through Mary Burland, in whose heart his seed took root, Mrs. Brittingham was sent to us, and here raised the Call of the Kingdom. That dear Maid-Servant said while here over ten years ago "I feel that you will sound the trumpet which will arouse this great Valley." This is our constant prayer.
Progress has been slow, partly because we are so lacking in vision, and do not grasp the privilege of our opportunity, but partly because all of us have limited means and all are parents of children, and so cannot travel as we would. But at last we can see, descending in torrents, the confirmations.
We are beginning to face the tests of opposition from those who do not understand. May we be firm as rocks, and always kind and loving to the opposers, as well as to the friends!
Your word through Emogene Hoagg was most gratefully received, and we are trying to teach as you have outlined, which is, of course, as our dear Master, Abdul Baha taught.
We send you and to all the beloved Household, our united loyalty and love. May He grant you strength for the great burdens you young shoulders must bear.
IN HIS SERVICE
(signed Grace B. Holley)
[The 'word through Emogene Hoagg' might be from this excerpt of a letter from Emogene Hoagg to Grace Holley, dated Haifa, Palestine, 8 October 1924 and supplied by the U.S. National Archive:]
Today at luncheon I mentioned your name to Shoghi Effendi, saying that you were endeavouring to spread the message, that you were an old "tramp" [i.e. hiking, LKG] friend, etc. He asked me about you, then said to tell you that the way the Master always taught is the way for us to teach, that is: "commence by saying that, when Persia was in a most darken [sic] condition, Bahá'u'lláh appeared like the Sun to illuminate the hearts. This connects the Cause with Persia and draws attention to the name Bahá'u'lláh. Then to give the principles as did the Master, emphasizing the uniting power of these principles and gradually lead the people to thinking about the Cause. Then later as they have become acquainted with the facts and principles, to give them the deeper teachings of the Spirit, tell who and what Bahá'u'lláh was to the world, and the important station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá." This he says is what the Master always did when in America, and what he afterward told the Orientals to follow in their teaching.
[These reported words of Shoghi Effendi should be considered pilgrim's notes, not authentic text.]