THE EAST-WEST GATHERING
The bus carrying us from the Wellesley Hotel also used to call at a residential club occupied by some of the Americans. We were outnumbered by our co-passengers, and during the excitement of the first day or so, the short journey to Guruprasad seemed to be filled with American greetings and repartee, and their characteristic energy was somewhat overwhelming for us more reserved southerners from 'down under'.
The first Sahavas morning, Thursday 1st November, was already warm when about 8:30 the bus-loads of Westerners arrived at Guruprasad, hurried across the road and into the broad driveway. Each one was wearing the special East-West Gathering Baba Medallion which was the 'pass' to go through the gates, and began walking towards the big grey building with Baba's flag fluttering on the flagpole in the light breeze.
Intent on reaching the house, most paid only cursory attention to the large awning on the left sheltering the Baba Stall displaying photographs, books and other material; the first-aid tent on the right; and the gardens filled with bright flowers along the drive and in front of the wide portico.
Excitement increased and footsteps quickened as the groups of Westerners neared the house. Everyone hurried up the steps, crossed the verandah, slipped off shoes, stepped through the wide-open glass doors and moved across the big main room straight towards Baba.
Quickly selecting a spot as close as possible to Him, all sat on the floor or on chairs near the wall or to the back it did not matter where, as long as one could see Him clearly. I remember Bill [Le Page] telling me earlier not to hang back, but to move in quickly to make sure of getting near Baba.
'The mornings were for Westerners alone' on Baba's instructions. It was a little before 9 AM and Baba was seated, with several cushions around Him, on the big couch where we had met Him the previous evening. While all were arriving Baba would often lift a hand and smile to one or another well-known figure.
He gestured for the children to come to the front, and for a passage to be kept so that certain ones could come through as He called them for His embrace, or to sit nearer to Him, or for some other particular purpose.
Eruch was ever-ready and watchful just in front of Baba and a little to our right. I don't recall others of the mandali, but doubtless they were all close by.
I was sitting on a chair to the right of the room facing Baba. There were some in front of me, but I could see Him quite well, and could also turn to look at the various ones He spoke to.
The morning began with each one in turn going to Baba for His embrace, greeting Him in his or her own way: some leaned towards Him from a standing position; some knelt before Him; some, glancing up first for His approval, prostrated at His feet.
And to each one Baba gave and gave of His love. I still remember how much I wanted to kneel before Him, yet whether through self-consciousness, uncertainty, or the remains of a rather 'stiff-necked' upbringing, I did not manage to carry out this wish.
How often since then have I regretted losing such an opportunity! How often have I told myself, 'Next time He comes there will be no holding back, I'll come running to Him!'
MEHER BABA'S LOVE MY STORY, pp. 34-35, Judith Garbett
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