Symbols of the world's religions



Mary Lloyd Dugan

"I wake up at two o'clock in the middle of the night. My inner being is clear, calm, of shining energy. I know Baba is the Truth. And He is the Truth in me. In this truth I can live a wonderful, creative life. And work for His work. For about two hours, I am in this pure happiness, freed from all the give and take of polarities."

These are the words written by Walter Mertens, one of Meher Baba's earliest Swiss disciples after the first day of his stay at Meherabad in November 1938.

Walter met Meher Baba in 1933 and later he introduced his wife Hedi to Baba. Both loved Meher Baba very dearly. As a response to their love for Him, Baba, during His visits to Europe between 1934 and 1937 spent several weeks in the Mertens' lovely house in Zurich.

I had heard many good stories about Hedi's love for Baba. I had also heard she had a large archive of photographs of Meher Baba which she had taken in India and Switzerland. So, in 1980 while returning to the States after my pilgrimage to Meherabad, I decided to see Hedi in Switzerland, although I knew she was not in good health.

At that time she was living in a little town carved out of the hills above Lugano. From the city the bus took its time climbing up the winding road to her hillside country home. The buildings at the heart of town gradually opened up to small fields of wild flowers; Hedi lived just beyond one such field.

Up until now, I had only known Hedi Mertens through her pictures — those beautiful photos taken in Zurich of her and her children sitting with Meher Baba. The time was 1934, during His eventful trip to Fallenfluh. Now, it was almost 50 years later as I made my way toward her little cottage. Feeling a bit shy, I stopped to pick wild flowers along the way so I'd have something to offer her (too late now to think of other gifts — the closest store for that was a long bus ride away).

Hedi's house was at the end of a country lane. Flowers in hand, I knocked and entered to see Hedi seated in a hospital bed, looking very stately — her long white hair brushed off her face and falling to her shoulders. Though she had suffered a stroke and couldn't walk, she was alert and enthusiastic about visitors. She soon put me at ease with her gracious manner.

The house was brightly lit, thanks to a large picture window which offered a magnificent view of the valley and the hills across the way. Hedi told me that Baba had visited this area, and from the charge of the atmosphere, I was not surprised.

Hedi wanted to know all about Myrtle Beach, and was interested in the shells I'd brought (though none of them was "perfect!"). Then she began to tell her stories. One tale in particular struck me.

In 1938 Hedi had been invited by Baba to go and live in India with the other Western women. Hers was an unusual case because she had two small children whom she had to leave behind in Switzerland.

After a few months in India, Hedi received a letter from her husband, Walter, saying that the children were very ill and that even the doctors were worried. As she read the letter, she sat on the edge of her bed and wept.

Norina Matchabelli happened to come in and she found Hedi in her sorry state. "Hedi, darling, whatever is the matter?" she asked. Hedi showed her the letter and Norina, in no uncertain terms, said, "Hedi, you simply must take this to Baba. You must."

So Hedi, letter in hand, went off to find Baba. When she gave Him the news, Baba shook His head and looked up at her. He said, "Hedi, when you first came to India, I said to put your family in My hands. Don't you trust Me?"

"I trust you, Baba," Hedi insisted.

"I can see the children now," Baba informed her with a smile on His face and jokingly continued, "They are sitting under a large umbrella out in the garden with their grandmother. She is reading to them. And one of the children has his finger up his nose!" Everyone had a good laugh, especially Hedi who was tremendously relieved.

Soon afterwards, she received another letter from home. Walter assured her that the children were fine, and he enclosed a photograph for her. There were the children out in the garden with their grandmother — and all the details were exactly as Baba had described — one even had a finger up his nose!


WHEN HE TAKES OVER, pp. 4-6, ed Bal Natu
1988 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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