Howard Colby Ives’s book Portals to Freedom has been loved by readers for many years. But not many know the story of his wife Mabel Rice-Wray Ives, whose dedication to the Bahá’í Faith made her a powerhouse in her own right, developing a method of public speaking that proved highly successful. Together, they formed a powerful team, giving up house and home for 20 years to travel across the United States and Canada in their desire to be of service to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. They taught the Bahá’í Faith in at least 74 communities in 26 states and three Canadian provinces, frequently sent to different areas by the National Teaching Committee, and although they missed each other terribly they never refused these requests.
Most of this book is based on the over 900 letters sent by Howard and Mabel Ives or those received by them, including 17 Tablets from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and 28 letters from Shoghi Effendi, many published here for the first time. Their letters to one another are full of the details of their hopes and their struggles, the places they went and the people they met. When they were apart for any length of time – which was often – they would write almost daily. What unfolds, apart from the details of their activities, is the deeply loving relationship between them, the encouragement and advice they offered one another, and their homey conversations about their living situations, money (always in short supply), and expressions of hope for the next time they would be together. Woven brightly throughout this personal correspondence between husband and wife is the humility of their service, their utter devotion to the Cause they strove to serve, and their commitment to continually grow spiritually.