In which there was a long-ass road trip for both of us, some hotel lounging for him, and some much-needed spiritual renewal for me.
Tuesday we slept in and then packed and drove to St. Charles, IL. It took forever, or about six hours. Checked into our hotel and slept. I was so excited to be with Amma again for the next few days, and so grateful my partner had agreed to take me again.
Wednesday was an all-day program. I got dropped off and meditated and ate Indian snacks and socialized and got darshan from Mother, who smeared my head with sandalwood paste and hugged me like crazy. It was a great darshan. (I mean, they’re all ideal by definition, but some are more enjoyable than others. The ones where you know you’re Mother’s own are the best.) I hung out with Cat for awhile; she gave me some Radiance Dairy heavy cream! I haven’t had any for, like, eight years!
I bought a few things from the bookstore; a tee, a mini altar, a rudraksha necklace. I watched Mother give darshan.
Cat caught a ride with me when Scott came to pick me up and we all three stopped at Los Burritos Mexicanos #3 for dinner. I still can’t figure out what’s in that second green salsa of theirs; Cat thinks cilantro is a main ingredient. Whatever it is, it’s amazing.
Thursday I got up fairly early and went to the morning program, mostly to meditate and get something to eat. Didn’t get darshan. In the afternoon Scott picked me up and we saw a matinee of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out and did some shopping (he got some shirts and I got a dress and a long-sleeved dark blue tee from Goodwill). In the evening, I told Scott he had to get darshan for his own good, whether he liked it or not, because the spiritual health of the family is the woman’s duty, so he had to park at the ashram and come in to the hall to get a token with me. Then I let him leave; bless his heart he came back at one in the morning for our hugs. (His darshan this year was nothing like the love fest She lavished on him last year, though.) Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.
Friday we slept through the morning program on purpose, because I’d decided to stay up all night for Devi Bhava (since I haven’t done so in a few years and really needed to). We ate at Corfu, saw another matinee, and I was back at the ashram by seven, just in time for the meditation and the puja.
When darshan began I hung out with Tahmi — she laid an awesome theory on me about Calvinism and why so many people actively hate the poor — and we ate dinner together before her next seva shift. Most of the night I sat right up front and stared at the Holy Mother of the Universe and sang along to the bhajans and in general just basked in the presence of an Avatar. I’m half-certain She gave me a few looks; I’m also half-certain She did no such thing because why ever would She be sharing looks with me.
After my darshan I sat on stage for a bit, and when I was asked to move for other devotees I mentally asked if I could sit behind the kalari. The response I got was a clear “no, you should go” and I briefly felt sorry for myself until I saw that the next act up was the folky Michigan satsang duo I’ve always complained about! So I walked out to the back 40 and had a cigarette and realized from the singing of the birds that it was almost dawn already.
After a cup of chai, I went back to my spot (on the floor under a monitor next to the band) and watched Devi give darshan and sang along to the bhajans. I’d somehow ended up in exactly the right spot. Well after sunrise, other devotees began to crowd around me, so much so that I ended up with my shoes and my purse in my lap, smushed up against the velvet rope marking the edge of the musicians’ area.
There were a few first feedings, a first letters, and then a sacred thread ceremony for a young Brahmin boy. Then I sat and watched most of the devotees parade past Mother while she showered them with petals. I had an absolutely perfect position for the very end of the program’s chants, with an ideal view of Her. I did a lot of crying. She made a face at me.
Scott picked me up from the ashram at 8:30, the time we’d pre-arranged and which turned out to be exactly the right time (he’d come into the hall to find me just as Mother was emerging from the kalari to leave). We napped at the hotel until 11, then loaded out and headed for home. I finished my leftovers from Corfu (spinach and feta omelet on rye with a slice of tomato and leftover coleslaw from Scott’s plate) and dozed a bit in the back of the truck. At a gas stop I got back in front; eventually we ate in Hixton, WI; we finally arrived home at a little past six.
The apartment smelled like ass, even though I’d left two windows cracked specifically to avoid it. (Old buildings: what can you do? There’s funk in the walls.) A quarter of an hour of wide-open windows, a fan, and a stick of incense and everything was back to normal.
The place wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d remembered; most everything is unpacked and it’s really close to totally-moved-in and comfortable. I took an afternoon nap but woke up fairly refreshed at dusk. Scott reiterated his affection for the new place (he likes the open plan and the paint colors the most) and then proceeded to use a tape measure to prove that the dresser actually would, in fact, fit in the bedroom! (We moved it in there today.) With the dresser out of the living room, maybe we can keep the recliner after all!
Our first night home, I laid in bed and felt like my head was full of noise and agitation and, well, bullshit. Many years ago I felt the compulsion to say my mantra at the anahatachakra (heart) chakra. Later, this compulsion moved to the ajna (forehead) chakra and it’s been there off and on for years. That night, it became the sahasrara (crown) chakra, a compulsion I’ve literally never felt before. Not only the noise of my mind, but also a brilliant light, was blowing out of it as I laid there and said my mantra while drifting off to sleep. I find it impossible to believe that my awareness has traveled so far; if it really has, then all that so-called advanced chakra stuff must literally be the absolute beginning of spiritual life and not the esoteric knowledge I’d always thought it to be. Well, and also, it says a lot for being the devotee of an Avatar because you basically don’t do anything at all but make the slightest effort and yet you move along the path anyway, basically in spite of yourself.
Had some gut distress during the days of programs; woke up the second night with pain. Was able to eat just fine, though. Last soreness was the first night home, then everything back to normal. One always feels like these things are associated with something Amma is doing, because the symptoms of whatever it is occur only on the days you’re with Her; they never extend to time before or after. On the other hand, if they are, there’s no way to understand how a fussy lower GI tract has anything to do with anything, or a cold, or a fever, or a headache, or any of the things one experiences while around Amma over the years.
I can’t remember when I first met Her, but I think it’s coming up on twenty years. Could I have met Her as early as 1995? I was living in Walla Walla and went to see Her on Fort Flagler for a retreat. Devi Bhava was in Seattle at the Scottish Rite Temple; I remember that the people I was with all pretty much wanted to go, but I knew the most important thing in my life was happening and I refused. I felt like She was somehow whirling everything together, and that She was communicating with entities that were neither embodied nor visible who had also come to get her darshan. I didn’t give a shit that my boyfriend was distressed about my rudeness nor that the people representing our ride were bored and not digging it. It didn’t matter if a few people were bored for a few hours. I had to get one more darshan from Her.
Half a year later, broken hearted and living in California, I was sitting in a cubical farm and thinking about Her endlessly and I smelled Her perfume and felt Her presence and felt incredibly soothed. Weirdly enough, I never made it around the bay to the San Ramon Ashram — I never visited there until just a few years ago…