DEEPEST IN HIS HEART
Several years before, my brother lived in San Francisco and flew often to New York for visits with friends or for his work in the music business. After several flights, he joined the "in" crowd of professional travelers and became a recognized old hand on the transcontinental flight.
On this particular journey, he was sitting at the back of the plane with an off-duty air hostess, and a broker who made the cross country trip several times a week. The hostess used her good offices to get them all ample food and drinks and they were having a very cozy party at the back of the plane.
Somewhere over the great American Southwest, the hostess happened to glance out of the window and she blanched, screamed and clutched frantically at my brother's arm. The businessman looked out the window, spluttered and turned purple and sat back in his chair. My brother looked out and saw that the plane was diving straight to the ground through one layer of delicate clouds then another, falling at an accelerating speed towards the desert.
He saw the desert come clearly into view and watched the little lumps turn into mountains and mesas; here and there vegetation became visible, and faint lines turned into 6 lane highways. In another second or two he thought, the cars will be visible and then there will be a crash and the inevitable impact.
My brother sat back to savor his last moments of life and said out loud, "Well, Baba, in another moment I'll be with You at last." Immediately Baba's face appeared in an orb of light before his face. He was smiling and beaming lovingly at my brother, who says he felt wonderfully composed, happy and calm.
In the world of love illuminated by the face of the Beloved, there was calm, there was time to try and comfort the desperate hostess, there was time to see if the broker had choked and was the seat belt buckled properly, there was composure in the face of death and there was time to feel and acknowledge the boundless love of the God-Man.
This blissful state was not ended when the pilot wrenched the plane into horizontal flight at 1,500 feet above the ground, and skidded to a rough landing on a small runway in the desert, and fire engines wailed and ambulances raced for the plane.
A few moments of confusion passed by like vapor disappearing in the air, and a crewmember stepped forward to explain that a first class passenger had had a severe heart attack, which was immediately diagnosed by a fellow passenger physician. The captain was informed at once and he knew from his many trips across the country, that the plane happened to be directly 30,000 feet above an excellent hospital equipped with both radio links and a runway. He sent the crew to inform all the passengers of the situation, which they started to do, but because my brother and his companions were sitting at the very back of the plane, the crew had not quite reached them when the plane began its dive.
The stewardess laughed at her lack of composure off duty; the broker planned to sue the airlines for something; and my brother realized that he knew for certain now what was deepest in his heart, beloved Baba.
OUR CONSTANT COMPANION, pp. 59-61, ed. Bal Natu
1988 © Bal Natu