Ever since I was a young teenager I have been inspired to lead a spiritual life and to seek the experience of God within. Today, I am an interfaith minister living in Montreal, Canada.
My connection with Gurumayi began in the fall of 1982 after a series of fortuitous events led me to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Montreal. At that time I was a Franciscan monk living in a friary. For many years I had been longing to be near and to learn from a living Master. It was my great fortune to eventually meet such a Master in Gurumayi.
One of the teachings from the Siddha Yoga path that I cherish, and that has deepened my connection to Gurumayi over the years, is that through our devotion to God and the Guru, we draw grace into our lives. And it is grace that continually deepens our understanding of ourselves and further strengthens our connection to God. Through my relationship with Gurumayi this teaching has come alive for me and supported me in many ways.
One grace-filled moment during Gurumayi’s Teaching Visit to Montreal in the spring of 1985 continues to be central to my spiritual life. I felt so blessed to have Gurumayi visit my city. I remembered reading how Baba loved to visit churches on his visits to the West. One day as I was attending mass in the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, the thought came to me, "How wonderful it would be if Gurumayi could visit this church." It is a cathedral dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, and it is one of the most beautiful churches in North America.
One evening when Gurumayi was giving darshan in a satsang, I asked her if she would like to visit one of our most beautiful churches. Gurumayi asked me, “Which one?”
I said, “Notre-Dame,” and she replied, “Yes!” I felt as though my invitation had created an opening for Gurumayi’s abundant grace.
And so it was arranged. At 10 a.m. on the morning of June 14, I was in front of the cathedral awaiting Gurumayi’s arrival. There was so much excitement in the air that day! As I stood, ready to greet Gurumayi, the leader of the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Montreal came to me and said, “Brother Rolph, I asked the priest if he would ring the cathedral bells when Gurumayi arrives, but he declined. Can you try asking him?” I told him that I was sorry but I could not leave my post. I had invited Gurumayi to visit the cathedral and I knew I should be there to welcome her when she arrived.
Shortly afterwards the car bringing Gurumayi drove up, and I opened the door for her. As Gurumayi stepped out, the cathedral bells suddenly began to ring! It was so beautiful! Pointing to the bell tower, I said, “Gurumayi, these bells are ringing for you!” Gurumayi gave me a very loving smile. A photographer took a picture of this moment and now, even as I write, I can see it on the wall beside my computer.
Later that day the priest told me that after he had declined to ring the bells, he had prayed to God about the matter, and received the response within that he should ring them.
Today as I look at the photograph of that moment, I give it the name “A Moment of Grace.” In such moments when the student’s love and devotion to the Guru are pure, when one is completely open to what the Guru gives, grace flows and one experiences a deeper connection to God. Everything seems perfectly aligned both inwardly and outwardly and moves with beautiful synchrony.
That evening during the satsang, Gurumayi spoke about the beautiful churches we have in Montreal, and encouraged us all to visit them and sing praises to God. When I went for darshan, Gurumayi placed a japa mala ring on my finger—an outward manifestation of the inner connection I was experiencing.
Several years later on Gurumayi’s birthday, I wrote to her, sharing my memories of her visit to Montreal and thanking her for the grace of those precious moments. In the letter I expressed my gratitude and devotion. I received an answer from Gurumayi saying, “Devotion brings grace!” May I be so blessed as to remember this teaching always.