Four months after the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932 another bridge closed in the Baha’i World. The last remnant of the Heroic Age, the treasured Remnant of Baha’u’llah, Bahiyyih Khanum, passed to the Great Beyond.(1) The date was 15 July 1932. The Baha’is refer to her as the Greatest Holy Leaf. She was the eldest daughter of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. She is seen by the Baha’i community as one of the greatest women who have ever lived. In some ways she was, indeed, a bridge between the Apostolic, the Heroic, Age of the Baha’i Faith(1844-1921) and its Formative Age, beginning as that latter age did it in 1921 about the same time as the construction began on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
When I saw the TV program “Constructing Australia: The Bridge,”(2) and realized that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in March 1932, I could not help but try to write this prose-poem based on what was for me the synchronicity of the building of the bridge and the developments in the Baha'i Faith. -Ron Price with appreciation to: (1)Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1968, p.187 and (2)“Constructing Australia: The Bridge,” ABC1, 9:55 p.m. 15 January 2009 and again on 27/1/’12 at 12:05-1:05 a.m.
That bridge, that great arch, defined a city
and a nation for the world, little did they
know back then, and little did we know-(1)
still don’t--how that other bridge to this
Formative Age from that Heroic Age,
defined our Faith. I write here of two
epic stories, incredible feats:….one in
engineering and the other in the world
of a new religion with an important role
to play in unifying human beings, the
planetizing, globalizing children of men.
The building of this bridge began as yet
another construction also began for the
creation of a national unit of our global
society—from an ingrown, amorphous,
loosely connected community, enlarged,
vastly-vastly, well-organized, a bridge to
the nucleus and pattern of, yes, our world
society, a building block of a government
of our future world—and in the meantime
part of an Administrative Order so strong
that it could execute a missionary-program
on an international scale for decades, yes,
perhaps centuries to come---and it started...
…..in the first years, indeed, months of the
life of that bridge to our Formative Age
when another bridge was completed in these
far-off Antipodes. Few appreciated the unique
part she played in those tumultuous years of
our Apostolic-Heroic Age due to an unfailing
sympathy, a tender solicitude, and assiduous
cultivation as shield in social relationships,
her magnanimity, her deep-rooted optimism,
her serene countenance, her sensitive heart,
her meekness and fortitude and the steeling
of her energies which even her most intimate
associates failed to suspect or appreciate.......
That bridge was Bradfield’s dream without(2)
which there would have been no bridge, and
Bahiyyih Khanum was part of her Father’s
dream, His Wondrous Vision, constituting
the brightest emanation of His mind and
the fairest fruit of the fairest civilization
that our world and its people have seen.(3)
1 Janet Khan, Prophet’s Daughter, The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine Of The Bahai Faith, Baha’i Pub. Trust, 2005. This book began to help us appreciate this ‘bridge’ and provide more information to the little that we knew. This was the first full-length biography of one of the greatest women in world religious history. Her towering spiritual strength offers readers an unrivalled model of sacrifice and service to one's faith. Born in Tehran, Bahiyyih Khanum (1846-1932) was the daughter of Baha'u'llah (1817-1892), Prophet and Founder of the Baha'i religion. Because Baha'u'llah's teachings were seen in His homeland as a heretical threat to the established order, He, His immediate family and a small group of followers were exiled for some forty years.
2 John Bradfield(1867-1943) was a prominent Australian engineer who is best known for his work overseeing the design and building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In 1924 Bradfield received the first doctor of science in engineering at the University of Sydney for his thesis on electric railways and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The planning, the origins, and the beginning of the construction of the bridge all have a degree of synchronicity with the earliest development of Baha’u’llah’s World Order in the first decades of the 20th century.
3 Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Pub. Trust, Wilmette, 1974(1938), p.48.
20 January 2009 to 29 January 2012