As we were leaving the Temple in the sacred stillness after the arati, we saw Gurumayi coming out of the front entrance of Anugraha, surrounded by a group of children and their families. Gurumayi walked to the statue of Shiva Nataraja and performed pranam. We hurried over to join her.
Gurumayi invited us to sing the Shiva Arati. As several sevites went to get chanting sheets for everyone, Gurumayi asked the children what they would like to chant. They had many suggestions! The most popular was the spirited Om Namah Shivaya in the Yaman Kalyan raga. We chanted a few exuberant rounds, and then Krishna Haddad, a music conductor, raised his hands and led us all in singing the Shiva Arati.
A nectarean peace settled over us all at the finale of the arati. Everything felt utterly perfect and complete. We could not imagine the celebration getting any better than this. Were we in for a surprise!
For at that moment, Gurumayi reminded us that it was dinnertime. And then, Gurumayi invited us all to walk with her to Atma Nidhi!
Gurumayi stopped on the bridge at Lake Nityananda. We halted behind her and peered into the water.
There, in the lake bed, is a wishing well, created with a circle of stones. Gurumayi invited the children to offer coins to the well and make a wish. Those of us who were close by dug into our pockets and provided the children with coins. We watched as the children threw their coins into the water, carefully aiming for the wishing well. It was such a sweet moment—light and joyful.
Gurumayi held the hands of two of the boys and started to run down the Silent Path. We all ran after Gurumayi—laughing, cheering, sharing looks of amazement and delight. Many people later shared with me how free they felt as they ran with Gurumayi—how playful, how uninhibited. As our walk progressed, Gurumayi would move forward and then pause, so that we could all catch up. Together we journeyed on, like rippling waves, flowing in ecstasy.
Later that evening, Pushkar Dhoot, a young visiting sevite from India, told me that our walk with Gurumayi brought back sweet memories of when he was a boy visiting Gurudev Siddha Peeth with his family. “We children would follow Gurumayi everywhere,” he said. “We would hold her hand and talk to her as she walked about the Ashram.”
Gurumayi invited Michael Karlin, an SYDA Foundation Trustee, to offer a coconut to the stream. Gurumayi told Michael to use all his strength when making this offering, so that the coconut would crack open. Michael did so—the coconut split apart as it met the water and the rocks, sending up droplets of water that caught the light.
Om. Salutations to the Guru, who is Shiva!
His form is being, Consciousness, and bliss.
He is transcendent, calm,
free from all support, and luminous.
In that moment I felt that I was experiencing the presence of Shiva in everyone and everything around us—in the gently moving trees, the still earth, the flowing sky, and our own glowing faces. Everything was Shiva, the eternal Guru.
Then Gurumayi ran with the children to the tall murti of Shri Hanuman that stands near the top of the Silent Path. We adults followed behind—totally enthralled by this adventure and eager to see what would happen next.
The son of the wind repeated the pure Name,
and made God reside in his heart.
When we reached Atma Nidhi, Gurumayi walked up the stairs to the Amrit deck. Gurumayi paused and looked at the procession below. She commented on how beautiful we all were, our faces golden in the sunlight.
As the walk was nearing its conclusion, we followed Gurumayi into Annapurna Dining Hall. It was dinnertime. With great tenderness, Gurumayi reminded the children to wash their hands before eating. Then we bade Gurumayi farewell as she departed the dining hall.
With a profoundly grateful heart, I thought about how we had come full circle today. In the Celebration Satsang this morning, we had honored the goddess of food and nourishment by listening to the Annapurna Stotram
. And now here we were at our destination in the space that bears the name of devi
Annapurna, the space where food is lovingly prepared and received. What a glorious evening of worshiping, wishing, and walking on the Silent Path.
Click here to read Part X