Baha'i News -- Resting place of the Guardian

Resting place of the Guardian

Dan Geiger Reporting Winter winds whirl around us as we scurry down East Bay Street toward the resting place of our Beloved Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi. Racing to beat the setting sun, we hurry down a narrow sidewalk as it dangles us out close to rushing traffic that creates competing whirlwinds around us. Quaint British-row houses with dainty gingerbread fronts and tiny gardens decorated with miniature-trimmed hedges, dwarf trees and painted concrete elves, pixies, and gnomes create a toy neighbor on our left. On the opposite side of the road a rusted ruddy iron fence separates us from ancient stone slab tombstones crusted with lichen-tainted moss. Stacked in compressed rows and darkened by over hanging trees they echo ancient times. A tall church spire pokes through the top of the trees marking the center of this old cemetery.

A brick entrance gate leads us down a road to the church surrounded by circular lane creating the hub for a dozen lanes radiating out like spokes of a wheel. In the front of the church an ornate red brick entrance marks the most prominent entrance of these spoke lanes serving as venues to the cemetery. Red paving bricks lead to an ornate black iron gate highlighted with gold leafing. Reminiscent of the many gates on Mount Carmel I am quickly taken back there. It has been six months since ending my service there on the Mount Carmel Project and returning to Montana in the United States. Today we begin our fifteen-month travel-teaching trip around the world but my heart begins the trip on Mount Carmel for a moment of gratitude before returning to this London suburb.

We reach the gate to the resting-place of our Beloved Guardian. It opens to a broken terra cotta pathway flanked by two large white stone urns and saturated purple and yellow pansies, again a reminder of the gardens on Mount Carmel. The terra cotta path gives way to a crushed marble rock apron, which surrounds the protective three tiered, white marble base. From the center of this base rises a white marble column about fifteen inches in diameter topped by a Corinthian capital supporting a white globe eighteen inches in diameter. From here a gold eagle readies for flight. With it wings partially spread, its piercing eyes look off to the east. The white of marble is tinted pink by the late afternoon sun behind it as it makes one last attempt to hang on to the horizon. The sun loses its grasp and slips into obscurity leaving behind a pink sky. Following its source, the remaining light of the sky seeps behind this spot on the horizon. The sky quickly transforms itself from bright pink to magenta to ruby and then gives up to the night sky as dark blues replace reds. The cold North Sea winds continue to stir the quiet cemetery as my friend the raven calls out in his familiar, "Claw, claw". Circling overhead he reminds me that his call is to a higher level of consciousness, powerful medicine in the Native Americans of North America. In the dim light I can still read the gold inscription on the column of the monument.

SHOGHI EFFENDI -"BEHOLD HE IS THE BLEST AND SACRED BOUGH THAT HAS BRANCHED OUT FROM THE TWIN HOLY TREES. WELL IS IT WITH HIM THAT SEEKEST THE SHELTER OF HIS SHADE THAT SHADOWETH ALL MANKIND." ABDU'L-BAHA

The cool damp of the evening evaporates as we drink hot tea and our hearts are warmed by mementoes of the Faith hanging on the wall of the tiny visitor reception center. After a visit to the resting place of our beloved Guardian, we sit in quiet conversation with Mr. Alaee, the custodian, as he tells stories of hearts recognizing the Faith - a spiritual mystery we all recall when we too recognized the Ocean of His Words for the first time.


©Copyright 2002, Dan Geiger

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