“To give and be generous are attributes of Mine.” 14
Do you know what the word generosity means? Yes, it means to give and share freely with others. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was a wonderful example to us and there are lots of stories about His generosity. This story is about a time when He was still a child.
‘ABDU’L-BAHA AND THE SHEPHERDS
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Father was a very rich man and owned many villages in the countryside. One day ‘Abdu’l-Baha went up into the mountains with some of the workmen to see the thousands of sheep his Father owned. The shepherds were so happy to see ‘Abdu’l-Baha that they prepared a delicious feast for him. Do you think that it was a feast of braaied lamb chops over their camp fire?
In the evening when it was time to go home, the head shepherd told ‘Abdu’l-Baha that it was the custom in that part of the country to also give a present to the shepherds. “I haven’t got anything to give you,” said ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The head shepherd continued to say that it was the custom to give presents and that they expected ‘Abdu’l-Baha to give them something. The boy, ‘Abdu’l Baha, must have wondered what he could do and then he came up with the answer to his problem. He gave all the sheep to the shepherds! What a surprise! When Baha’u’llah heard about this He laughed and said, “We will have to protect ‘Abdu’l-Baha from himself – some day he will give himself away!” Vignettes
‘ABDU’L-BAHA AND THE CLOAK
When he was grown up ‘Abdu’l-Baha was always giving things away, even his own clothes. His wife had great problems with this, especially when the very cold winter came with icy wind and rain, and sometimes even snow. Once when she was going away on a journey ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s wife was afraid that he would give away his cloak (a coat which is more like a blanket without sleeves). She bought him a second cloak and left it with one of her daughters asking her not to tell her father about it. How surprised they must have been when soon after she had gone ‘Abdu’l-Baha came and asked if he had another cloak. His daughter had to tell the truth and say that indeed he had one that she was keeping for him. He then asked how he could be happy having two cloaks when he knew there were others who had no cloak at all? He then gave away the second cloak. Vignettes
We too need to learn to be generous and give things away to those who need them. There are so many needy people and organizations that look after poor people, who welcome anything that we can give them.
ACTIVITIES – ALL THE CHILDREN
Do the children know any poor people? Have the children seen any poor people? Is there a poor person in your street? Is there a poor person at school? Is there a children’s home or shelter for the homeless that we know? Can we collect some used clothes, books, or toys, or can we buy some sweets? Let the children make a plan to be generous and decide how they will do it. Help them accomplish their goal.
Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Annamarie Honnold, adapted.
14. Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Persian No. 49