Stories about 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Corinne True with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Temple Site Dedication

Corinne True Faithful Handmaid of 'Abdu'l-Baha
May 1, 1912
Wilmette, IL

— by Nathan Rutstein

The day after Davis’s[Corinne True’s son] death Corinne was present at the Temple site at the corner of Linden Avenue and Sheridan Road in Wilmette. Being there was difficult. Her last son - gone. Would the human tragedy that seemed to stalk her ever cease, she wondered. But Corinne had to be there forthe dedication ceremony, not because of its historical significance, but because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was coming. It was a cool, cloudy and windy day, not the kind of day one expects on the first day of May. Nearly 400 people were waiting for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival. He was to dedicate the Temple site in the tent behind the crowd. Some in attendance were surprised to see Corinne, for Davis had died the previous day. It simply wasn’t customary to do something like that. But those who knew Corinne well weren’t surprised. Certainly the Master wasn’t. When His taxi drove up, a Persian stepped out of the vehicle, asking for Mrs. True. In a few minutes she appeared and was ushered into the car, the guest of her Beloved. The car didn’t go far, only to the bridge on Sheridan Road that spans the canal bordering the Bahá’í property. Why the Master singled her out isn’t officially known. Was it because He wanted to see the new bridge and canal locks at the end of Wilmette harbor? Or to inspect the Temple site’s boundaries? He didn’t need Corinne with Him to do that. Surely it was an act of compassion considering her loss of Davis the previous day. But was it more than that? Was it also a demonstration of faith in Corinne True, directed at those who questioned, even openly criticized, her ability to work on the Temple project? Though the trees on the site prevented the crowd from seeing what was happening on the bridge, a group of children playing behind the gathering spotted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Corinne walking toward the back entrance of the tent. He greeted them warmly, gently patting all of them.

Inside the tent were about 300 people seated in a circle. There wasn’t an empty seat. In fact, people were outside trying to catch a glimpse of the Master and straining to hear His voice.

In His talk He cast His vision into the future, stating that there would be many other temples in America and elsewhere in the world; but the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in the Chicago area would have special significance as the first one erected in the West.

There were snags in carrying out the dedication ceremony. The golden trowel given to the Master to dig a hole for the dedication stone wasn’t strong enough to break through the ground. An ax, borrowed from someone across the street, was handed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who swung it powerfully, again and again, until He broke into the earth below. Finally, a shovel was produced by a young man who had borrowed it from a work crew near the village center. When the shovel was handed to the Master, Corinne True reportedly suggested to Him to have women participate in the ceremony. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called on Lua Getsinger to come forward. It required a second urging by the Master to draw Lua to Him. Corinne was the second one to dig up a shovelful of earth. Following her, representatives from different races and nationalities took their turn with the shovel. After placing the stone in the hole, the Master pushed the earth around it and declared that ‘The Temple is already built’.

To Corinne the Master’s declaration meant that there was no question about whether the Temple would ever be built. It was simply a matter of the believers focusing faithfully on the vision He had shared with them that chilly, gray, windy day in Wilmette. To her the burning question was when the Temple would be completed. It didn’t matter that no foundation had been dug or design approved. She remained optimistic that the Temple would be built in a few years. (Nathan Rutstein, ‘Corinne True, Faithful Handmaid of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)