In 1988, when I met the man who would become my husband (see How My Deepest Desires were Answered), he learned that I had been visiting the Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville occasionally for the previous four years, and I learned that he had been living there at the ashram throughout those same four years. Despite this startling coincidence, we had never met until he moved to Richmond, where I lived. In retrospect, it was certainly our destiny to meet–it was simply a matter of time and our receptivity and readiness that lagged a little.
The photo below was taken soon after Ram and I began dating. Swami Satchidananda is bestowing his grace and love on me, as Ram looks on.
Early on in our relationship, Ram went to South Carolina to visit his twelve year old daughter, as he did on weekends as often as possible. I decided I would attempt to draw his beloved Swamiji as a gift for him. I was 34 at the time and had not drawn anything since I was 18 years old. I scrounged around in my storage room and found an old pad of yellowed drawing paper, an artist pencil about half its original length, and a crumbly cube eraser.
Sitting down with my moribund materials, I began studying a 3 x 4 photo of Gurudev, whose image I wished to reproduce on a scale of 11″ x 14″. With long-curtailed confidence, I began lightly sketching an outline. Then I focused on the swami’s facial features. The eyes are so important to get right, being the windows of the soul. I felt ill-equipped and scantily skilled to meet the challenge.
I began thinking of Gurudev. With earnestness, I asked him to help me with his eyes. Lo and behold! His image rose up out of the paper. All I had to do was to trace him as he had presented himself.
Only after a while did I notice that Swamiji’s eyes would follow me wherever I stood in the room. (You will see what I mean if you move from place to place while looking at his eyes.) I remembered Ram telling me that Gurudev had promised him that he (Swamiji) would always be with him (Ram). I realized that my drawing was my way of being with Ram always, even when he was six hours away by car.
That evening, I drove an hour and a half to the ashram, taking the drawing with me. During satsang, I handed the drawing, still attached to the old pad of paper, to Gurudev, explaining that I drew his picture for Ram as a gift. I politely requested that he autograph it to make the gift ever so much more special.
Swamiji scrutinized the drawing. He held up the drawing for the other attendees to see. Ooohs and Ahhhs became audible.
A hmmmm comes from Gurudev. He leans over and quietly says in my ear, “You did not draw my picture; you drew me!” I look at him and he winks at me.
Somehow, he knew I had summoned his help. Without any fanfare, Gurudev proved to me that he is with me always, just as he is always with Ram.
Ram and I each had daughters before we found each other. In 1992, we were expecting our own child and planned for a home birth. Once, when visiting the ashram, Swamiji said, “Don’t worry about anything during your birth; I will be there with you.” Even after having the experience described above, I still thought he meant he would be there with me in spirit…kind of like how we say to our friends when we decline an invitation to one of their parties. Well, I was wrong.
Here is what happened. My labor began around 2:00 a.m. Around 9:30 I was sitting in our living room with Ram and our midwife. My daughter Melina was sleeping in, as was customary for a Saturday morning. When she awoke and entered the living room, we told her the baby would be born that day. Thrilled, she ran to her room and got her pink boom box (photo of the vintage item below) and brought it into the living room and plugged it in. Into the cassette player she placed a tape of Gurudev chanting Songs of Grace. We had never planned this; doing this was Melina’s inspired idea, that came upon her immediately upon hearing the good news.
As soon as I heard Swamiji’s voice, he vividly appeared, a little bit left of center, about eight feet in front of me. He sat crossed-legged upon some sort of glider, that moved to the rhythm of my contractions. He looked at me to acknowledge that we were indeed in each other’s company. He nodded to me and smiled with a twinkle in his eye.
When my next contraction came, he looked at me more seriously, beckoning me with his pointer finger to give him the contraction. There was no speaking; I just knew what his gesture meant. Somehow, I was able to comply. I sent the contraction over to him and he gleamed at me, as if he was happy to have it…so happy that I was successfully able to give it to him.
For the next four hours, this went on. He knew when each of my contractions was going to begin and every time he encouraged me to send it to him. We were completely in sync. I experienced no pain whatsoever–just a sense of floating over gentle waves. From then on, for the duration of my labor, I remained in blissful, silent communion with this amazing being.
Just as Gurudev had promised, he was there for my birth, proving once again that he is with me always.
Photo of Melina with newly born Mikela.
A year or so later, Gurudev gives some love to Melina, who heard his calling to bring him to me, making the birth of her little sister a truly auspicious occasion.
Ram and I were blessed with three girls: his, mine and ours.
All grown up now, we are blessed again with three precious granddaughters.