I Met John Leonard


Yes, you read that right.

I met John Leonard.

Who is John Leonard? Well, he happens to be the Knight of Baha'u'llah for the Falkland Islands, which, in brief, means he was the first Baha'i to have gone to the Falkland Islands.

I was born in the Falkland Islands.

So this was pretty cool for me. I know stories about him, and I am even aware that sometimes he and my parents didn't necessarily see eye to eye. Water under the bridge - he's a part of my history. I really wanted to meet him.

Problem was, I only learned he was here the day he was leaving. Wahhh!!!

So, I tried to detach, but the evening before he and Joan Bound (also from the Falklands) had told stories about it and I was bummed I'd missed them.

That evening was the night the consultants from Chad arrived, and I was to go have dinner with them. I sent an email to be given to John Leonard before he left, updated him on my family and left it at that. After work I left to meet the consultants for dinner.

The Shrine of the Bab was between my house and the consultants' flat, so I was walking past it and saw several tour buses out front. I knew they were here with a big group from Cypress, and at first I looked at the buses and thought "what is the chance? I know the Cypress group is supposed to leave from Akka, not Haifa..." But I saw far too many Grecian looking people to have any doubts. In a thoroughly un-Mara-like moment of spontaneity, I crossed the street, forgot about the consultants for the time being, and started asking people (remember, I was walking up to random people on the street at this point) whether they were from Cypress and if they knew if John Leonard would be on these buses.

I kept getting sent to the next bus forward, and of course, he was on the last bus. But, alas! They had to go! The woman asked me if I'd stay on the bus (Going to Tel-Aviv? NO!!), but I got a few minutes anyway as the bus drivers were off arguing somewhere together. The lady in the front had a microphone, so she asked if John Leonard would please raise his hand. Of course, middle of the bus, so here's the two of us standing in the middle of the bus as I say "My name is Mara Dornbrook, I was born in the Falklands." He asked my parents name again, and said excitedly, "Oh, yes! Of course I remember them!" He said this in a thoroughly un-British accent, which threw me, as I'd always thought he was British! Hahhaha! Dude's from New York... so much for my childhood memories :-) So, we hugged each other, he asked after my parents - and of course, sends you (Maman and Papa) his love and greetings, and not to worry, I conveyed the same to him and told him that you were doing well. Oh, I also thought he'd be much older... I always imagined an old curmudgeon... hee hee hee.

But I'm really glad I got to meet him. It somehow filled something for me.

So I got off the bus, as they had to leave. The lady in the front saw I was starting to cry, and said (remember she had a mike?) "Don't leave crying!" Well, besides the fact that the whole bus now knew I was in tears, and I started crying even more, I did tell her they were happy tears.

And off I went to my dinner with the Chadians.

More later.


This is Too, Too Kewl! I am sorry that the visit was so short. And John has got to be in his seventies, maybe his late seventies. You knew Rahim visited him in his trip? And, though we don't mention Joan as much, she was a great friend. She and her husband, Knapp,had a bookstore. It's where I bought Mog, the Forgetful Cat and many other books. you may or may not remember, but when we were in New York at the World Conference in '92 we ran into Margaret (John's wife) Leonard and Joan Bound for about 5 minutes.
Joan and Knapp were the ones whose washcloth froze to their bathtub one cold night. And everytime we would have a potluck every one would say what type of dish they were planning on brining. No matter what Joan said she was going to bring, she brought something else. She'd say salad and bring dessert. It was pretty funny. I think that is where I learned to let go of organizing potlucks and decided to allow them to be true potlucks. And Joan was a fantastic cook, too! Whatever she brought was okay with me because I knew it would be deliscious!
The funny thing about John not sounding British is not that he is an American, but that after 50-some years in the Falklands, he hasn't lost his accent at all.

The Baha'i world is really, really small!

Yes, I do remember meeting Joan and Margaret in New York. I had mentioned it in my email to them, which I don't think actually got to them unfortunately. Joan wasn't on the same bus, so I unfortunately didn't get to see her.

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This page contains a single entry by Mara published on July 18, 2004 3:16 PM.

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