Symbols of the world's religions



Barbara O'Donnell

It was my husband, Jay, who first brought me Meher Baba's name and news of Him. Jay was an enthusiast of Eastern paths to God and one day, in 1972 or so, he said to me, "... and there was a man in India named Meher Baba who died recently. He said He was the Avatar and all you have to do is love Him." Then Jay talked about Baba's silence and his own doubts, but what I heard was that someone named Meher Baba asked to be loved, and I said at once, "Yes, I always will. Meher Baba, whoever you are, you can rely on my love."

Long afterwards, Jay showed me a Baba card with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" on it. I took those words for friendly advice. His face charmed me thoroughly — I wondered why He even had to ask to be loved, being irresistibly charming. Doesn't He have the most alluring merriment and solemnity about Him?

I never hesitated to love Baba in my own way but I never had the slightest notion as to who He was whom I loved. One day I found out.

In the winter of 1979, Jay and our daughter Annika and I moved from California to Atlanta, Georgia. This uprooting began a series of troubles: briefly, sickness and loneliness for all of us, and hopeless discouragement for Jay in his work.

I tried to get in touch with the Baba group in Atlanta, but they had moved and I couldn't find them. If my search had not been half-hearted, I might have succeeded earlier and spared everyone the suffering that followed as I felt so lonely and depressed.

Finally, Jay got another job, which relieved pressure on us all. When he went for an interview, the person he was to see took him by one of the conference rooms in the office. There a young woman was arranging slides of her trip to India.

Jay said, "Where were you?"

"Oh, a place near Bombay."

"Where exactly?"

"Closer to Poona."

Jay asked, "Well, is that anywhere near Meherabad and Meherazad?"

She set down her slides and asked, "Who are you?" Her name was Anne Giles and she was a Baba person. Someone had asked her the week before to show slides of India during lunchtime. She had been uncertain what reaction her colleagues would have to pictures of the mandali and Baba's tomb, rather than the Taj Mahal, so she was very surprised to find someone who already knew about them.

She invited us to the next Atlanta Baba meeting and it was there I discovered the One I loved. In a box on a chair was a soft white garment, a sadra. In a flash I saw that God had worn that shirt. I couldn't take my eyes from it — and the conviction that it belonged to God overwhelmed me. I knew it with more certainty than anything in life. But I hadn't anticipated it; I thought I had come to a Baba meeting that night to find friends and, in truth, I found the Friend in all the world.

In the Gospels I have always admired the woman who pleased Christ with her faith, believing the mere touch of His sleeve would mend her. And there was the entire shirt! How compassionate and noble is God, who creates and upholds the universe and walks with us in a light cotton sadra. This is my Beloved.

I sat in the back of the room wiping away tears and foolishly trying to look as though nothing were out of the ordinary. Oh, that sadra was radiance itself!

The French say about love, "Plus qu'hier, moins que demain" (more than yesterday, less than tomorrow). Looking back, it always amazes me that there was a time, even yesterday, when I loved Baba less than now — and I look forward with delight to loving and pleasing Him more. It is the greatest good fortune to love Meher Baba.


WHEN HE TAKES OVER, pp. 67-69, ed Bal Natu
1988 © Bal Natu


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