September 18, 2013

A Sacred History -- a talk by Matthew Weinberg, given at the formal opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, on 22 May 2001

Today we commemorate a sacred history of unexampled love, supreme sacrifice, and divine vision. It is a narrative prefigured in the pronouncements of the great seers of the past. As we stand awestruck at the majestic structures and the "tapestry of beauty” now defining the face of God's Holy Mountain, and ponder the mysterious processes responsible for the remarkable transformation of this once barren domain, the words of Isaiah echo on all sides: "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.. . the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God."[1]

In an enterprise revealing a tenacity of purpose, a sustained selflessness, and the power of unified action, the followers of the Greatest Name in all corners of the planet seized a unique moment in time. The raising up of this directing center of the Kingdom of Bahá’u’lláh evokes astonishment at His eternal might and gratitude for His generous dispensations of grace. For we are nothing more than His humble instruments striving to achieve His just and compassionate purpose. The completion of this grand undertaking at once provides evidence of the tangible greatness of the Cause of the 'Abhá Beauty and is a testimony to the existence of an objective spiritual reality - for such an accomplishment could not be brought about by human effort and insight alone. Certainly, the spiritual forces involved lie beyond our comprehension. As Bahá’u’lláh Himself testifies, "This, truly, is a Revelation which revealeth itself only once every five hundred thousand years. Thus have We removed the barrier and lifted the veils." [2]

This occasion offers us the opportunity to look back at a fate-laden and triumphant spiritual journey.

More than 150 years ago, a youthful Prisoner, banished to a desolate mountain fortress, boldly addressed the ruler of Persia in these words: "I am the Primal Point from which have been generated all created things. I am the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the Light of God Whose radiance can never fade."[3] Speaking with an astounding power reminiscent of the Prophets of old, the Báb proclaimed the arrival of a new Day, that long anticipated moment in human history when the Promised One would "fill the earth with equity and justice"[4] and "with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord"[5]

His "trumpet-blast of knowledge" awakened the darkened land of Persia and endowed all who responded with "a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind."[6] His message, though, was not directed to that land alone, for He was the Bearer of a Revelation destined to transform the spiritual life of the human race. "O ye peoples of the earth," the Báb declared, "Enter ye, one and all, through this Gate…”[7] To pass through this Door was to step out of the darkness into the light of God's love and compassion; it led to the "Path of Truth" and to the "ways of peace."[8]