This year is the centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journeys to the West after decades of imprisonment. Today is the Commemoration of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. This story seems an appropriate one to share at this time.
Leroy Ioas, a young boy in 1912, was blessed to meet the Master on His visit to Chicago. One day, on the way to the Plaza Hotel to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he decided to buy Him some flowers. Though he had but little money, he managed to find a large bouquet of flowers which he himself especially liked – white carnations! But in approaching the hotel, he had a change of heart: he would not give ‘Abdu’l-Bahá those flowers after all, he told his father. His father was genuinely perplexed. Why, when the Master so loved flowers? Young Leroy gave his answer: ‘I come to the Master offering Him my heart, and I do not want Him to think I want any favours. He knows what’s in a person’s heart, and that is all I have to offer.’
With that for an answer Leroy’s father went upstairs and presented the flowers to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. How the Master enjoyed them! Their fragrance delighted Him and He buried His face in their midst, as He was inclined to do. During the talk, Leroy sat at the feet of this great Teacher, completely fascinated. Those dynamic, ever-changing eyes! Those ‘majestic movements‘! That charm!
After the talk, the Master stood up and shook hands with each guest. To each He gave one white carnation. Finally only a few remained. Leroy, standing behind ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, thought, ‘I wish He would turn around and shake hands with me before they are all gone!’ With that thought, the Master turned and saw him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wore a lovely, red rose, which He then pulled from His coat. pricking his finger in the process, and gave the rose with a drop of His blood to Leroy. Leroy knew the Master was aware that he it was who had actually brought those carnations.