The Detroit retreat was held in the airport Westin. I don’t know if you’ve ever stayed in a Westin, but they have this wonderful thing called a Heavenly Bed and man-oh-man are they not kidding! The bed is so great they actually sell them online. The next time I have two grand I’m gonna order me one. They’re awesome. Down pillowtop, down pillows, down everywhere! And so comfortable! It really is the best hotel bed I’ve ever slept in.
The rest of the hotel was gorgeous and I really had a lovely time staying there. The service was great, the Japanese-style design was lovely, and for being under flight paths it was surprizingly quiet. Tahmi liked the look so much she took a whole roll of film of it so she could show some of the nifty design points to Jason (they’re always threatening to remodel parts of their house, and they both like the Japanese aesthetic).
It was also a great hotel for an Amma program because the program basically had its own floor – the hall and kitchen were all together in the basement, so devotees didn’t have as large an impact on the normal operation of the hotel as they do in most other hotels – it was somewhat sequestered. There were still a lot of devotees in the lobby, but not like there are in Chicago or other program sites I’ve been to. You didn’t see people sleeping in the lobby where people are trying to do business. Instead they slept downstairs out of the general areas or in their rooms.
Amma’s flight out of Europe was delayed, so She missed the first program at the Holiday Inn. There was only one program there, and then we moved over to the Westin for the retreat. This was my third retreat and as usual it seems She pours on the juice when She knows She’s got your undivided attention for a few days. Her physical body is in great shape considering what She does to it; Her voice is getting a bit hoarser than it once was but that’s the only noticeable wear and tear. I am always aware intellectually of the impossibility of what She does, but it’s nothing like seeing it in person. Imagine sitting in a chair hugging four thousand people and never getting up to eat, sleep, or pee! She’s always fresh, the first darshan She gives is just like the last. And when She leaves the hall She doesn’t sleep, she travels around to devotees’ houses and does pujas, then visits hospitals, and maybe rests two hours out of every 24. In Cochin during the birthday celebration, she gave twenty thousand or more darshans without a break. She hugged almost a hundred thousand people in just a few days. I mean, it’s impossible for a normal human being to do that. I don’t think most people could do it for ten hours once or twice; She’s been doing it almost daily since 1987.
Devi Bhava went until ten in the morning. I think She did well over four thousand darshans, and then there were several first feedings and first letters followed by two weddings. (I didn’t make it past eight in the morning, I was just too exhausted.) Tahmi did ten hours of line entry seva and stayed up until the very end. She’s my hero.
I usually stay for the end of Devi Bhava because I love it so much, but when at eight in the morning the lines were still full and I fell asleep every time I blinked, I just had to go lie down. I felt at my darshan around three in the morning that I wouldn’t make it ’til the end – you could just tell She was taking her time and was in no hurry to finish early – but I tried really hard! The end of Devi Bhava is so cool because it’s one of the only times you can see Her alone, not surrounded by devotees. She stands on the stage and pelts people with flowers for about ten minutes while the swamis rock out on “Amma Amma Taye,” which is the funkiest, rockin’est bhajan ever.
I bought a few new bhajan books, a Kali Bhava outfit for my Amma doll, and a mantra bracelet. I also bought a large rudraksha bead, but I lost it within an hour of putting it on and just didn’t feel compelled to replace it when it never showed up at lost and found. I tried to get Brett a t-shirt, but they didn’t have his size in the styles he would wear. The only 2XL they had showed the blue and pink Amma website logo on the front, and I just don’t think he’d wear that, it’s too cute and too Amma-oriented.
As usual I spent awhile looking at all the families going up together for darshan and wished my husband were also a devotee, but also as usual I got over it and decided to be thankful he’s open minded enough not to try to prevent me from going. (THAT would suck.) He went once, for me, and got Mother’s darshan. I promised him then if he’d only go once I’d never ask him again, and I intend to keep my word. I harbor a secret desire of course that he’ll one day discover an interest in spirituality, and I glom onto every story told about husbands who finally become devotees after years (I talked to at least three men who said they never were interested before but their wives have been into Amma for years and then they started coming)… but Brett probably harbors a secret desire that I’ll one day suddenly want to built a hotrod and learn to drive it. (Hah! Not that a hot rod could possibly compare to an incarnated avatar, but it’s the best analogy I’ve got.)
I was so happy to get home last night and see my husband whom I’d missed so much, so par for the course he promptly managed to really hurt my feelings. I don’t know how it works, but it seems whenever I come home from a trip this happens. Last night it was a very brief but very mean and grumpy lecture on how I can’t sit in front of the fireplace anymore because I leave it wide open and waste wood and his way is so much better and I’m forbidden from operating the stove basically at all. He announced that since I’d been gone for a week he’d discovered that running the stove closed keeps the house much warmer and uses much less wood and it never went out and blah blah blah blah. I kept my own council and said nothing about the house being so cold I thought there was no fire going when I walked in, nor about him being the one who always left the ash door open, not me. But that’s not the point: regardless of right or wrong, he yelled at me and it hurt my feelings. A simple “I learned this while you were away and want us to change our behavior,” would have been fine.
I sulked around and unpacked, then filled an entire garbage bag with the crap he’d accumulated during the week I was gone, and finally he figured out I seemed sad and asked me what I was doing and made me come sit on the couch with him. I had to get up and put on another pair of socks, a pair of slippers, a sweater, and a hat. He claimed the house was warm, but in reality it was barely sixty degrees in there.
Finally I decided that I needed to quit feeling sorry for myself. It’s so weird, but that’s my first response to everything these days: self pity. I despise this new trait. I never used to be like this, but now it takes all my focus and strength to pull myself up out of the pit of self pity all the time. I have to deliberately slog back up the hill to equanimity about five times a day. It’s uncomfortable, to put it mildly, to realize what a big fat baby I’ve become.
The second time he decided to yell at me last night about my wanton wood-wasting I said quietly, “Just stop it. Stop. I’d been home barely twenty minutes and you’d already bitched me out twice. I GET IT. I WON’T USE THE STOVE from now on. I haven’t even been in the furnace room since the last time you yelled at me.” I wasn’t very angry, but I just wasn’t about to be dominated again for no apparent reason. Especially since I can wear a hat in the house; I did it last winter. It’s not a gigantic sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.
He’s the one who does all that incredibly hard labor getting wood for the stove; if he doesn’t want to “waste” it keeping the house at a reasonable temperature then who the hell am I to argue? It’s not like I could possibly afford to buy split, delivered, and stacked wood with my income, and there’s no way in hell I could go get it, unload it, and split it myself like he does. I certainly don’t want him to feel like I don’t value all that work, so we’ll run the damn stove totally closed down and I’ll wear extra clothes.
In all truth, it’s not like I really need to sit there reading brain candy sci-fi and smoking cigarettes, as much as it’s a toasty winter pleasure I really really look forward to and enjoy. Surely there’s better shit to do with my time in the the winter. I could maybe clean the house more, or meditate more, or, although it’s unlikely, it wouldn’t hurt me to maybe excersize to keep warm.
Today when we woke up before dawn (damn it all to hell, I’d hoped to sleep until at least seven), it was maybe fifty degrees in the house. Part of the lecture the night before had been about how the “fire had never gone out the whole time I was gone,” but it certainly went right out last night. Since the furnace failed to kick on it was fucking c-c-c-cold. I was pissed. But, bless his heart, he got up first, cranked on the furnace, made coffee, and started a roaring fire while I mummified myself in the duvet and meditated with nothing but my nose exposed, and then when it was warm he came up to offer to start the shower for me. What could be better than a warm bathroom, a hot shower, and a cup of coffee, all prepared by your beloved? Nothing! There couldn’t be a better apology in the world.
Brett and I really don’t have much surface stuff in common, but we do share a basic trait that is the actual heart of our marriage: we may both be selfish, self-involved bastards, but we do know when we’ve been assholes and we take steps to make amends.
I loved my week long sojurn to Motor City to get Mother’s darshan, I can’t even express how nice Tahmi’s car is (I kept thinking there was something wrong with the Jeep in comparison!), and it’s always good to get away, but I’m really quite happy to be home again. Hooray!