Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 16 October 2006

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

I am actually writing this Meherabad Diary from New York City. I am on a five-week vacation visiting my family. I left Meherabad for the States on Wednesday the 26th October, and will return to India on 2nd December. So, this will be the last Diary until I return. I brought my notes with me to make it possible to write, or I'm afraid I would not remember correctly.

The saga of the Chickungunya also continues. I had to have assistance with stowing my carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment of the airplane. My joints are very sore, though it seems the worst affected is my wrists. My wrist did not seem to be able to support much weight. I can lift a ten-pound bag, but I cannot push myself away from a wall.

I finished the quilt I was making for Rachel, my granddaughter. My sewing machine stopped working two days before I left. So, I went into the bazaar and had a tailor help me finish the last part of the border. I also found my sewing machine had given me problems because I had neglected to give it oil. Being lazy cost me a lot of anxiety. Yet, by taking the quilt to the tailor I learned how to do the border in a much easier and better way.

Since the 90th birthday party I gave Virginia fell outside this Diary period, I decided to share it with you here anyway. I gave the party in the Dining Hall of our new Meher Pilgrim Retreat. I had invited the whole community, including all the pilgrims. The party was to start at 4:00 PM, but as life does not always follow our schedules, the guest-of honor (Virginia) got stuck waiting for a train at the railroad crossing in the village.

When Virginia was escorted into the Dining Hall, all two hundred and fifty people stood up and clapped. It was totally spontaneous! It was so wonderful to see! It was like some great dignitary had arrived. She was taken to a special chair that was brought from the home of one of the Residents. It looked almost like a throne! Some pilgrims had decorated the Dining Hall, and a table had been placed next to Virginia's chair. A large area was open in front of her for the entertainment.

There were a lot of musicians and singers; we even had a world-class juggler from Australia. Ted Judson sang 'Forever Young'. We had a group from Iran singing and dancing while a long line was formed for the cake and ice cream. When some young people played rock-n-roll, I spontaneously took Virginia's hands and we joined the dancing. At one point, JungleMaster, who is also 90 years old, got up and danced with Virginia. It was wild to see. Here were two 90 year olds, dancing to rock-n-roll music! Roshan Karawalla closed the party by singing the song Baba had taught her.

Okay, let's get back to the scheduled first two weeks of October.

Sunday 1 October. I woke up to the sound of raining. It rained the whole day. I just stayed in my room and worked on the quilt I was making for my granddaughter. I am feeling physically stronger—I think I am on the road to recovery.

Monday 2 October. It was my scheduled day at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. I was happy to see it was a slow day, since I was not sure how well I could handle a busy one.

At the Retreat there is a double-door gate for entry of a vehicle into the Tile Courtyard. The employees use it to come in and out when clocking in their time cards. Half the time the gate is left open, letting space for stray dogs to enter. Many times we have had to chase away dogs. So, Ted Judson is going to make one side not open, and the other side close automatically with a spring weight.

Tuesday 3 October. I spent most of the day in my room working on the quilt. In the evening at 6:00 PM I had Samadhi duty.

Wednesday 4 October. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Mehera's shrine. Then I went down the hill to get ready for my half-day at the Retreat. I took a rickshaw because the roads are too muddy and my wrists are too weak to risk riding my scooter.

Five pilgrims from Israel arrived, including my friend Michal, whom I had stayed with when I visited Israel with Virginia a couple of years ago.

Suzie has the afternoon at the Retreat. This left me free to video Diana Le Page in the Retreat Dining Hall where her sixteen paintings are on the walls. Diana went from each painting telling what she was trying to capture in the painting. I enjoyed videoing her because it gave me an insight into the meaning of the paintings.

I finished videoing just in time to take our bus to the Music and Arts Center at 3:45 PM. I live near the theatre and just walked the rest of the way home. Tea was served on the verandah of the M & A Center at 4:00 PM, followed by a movie about Eruch at 4:30 PM.

I went up the hill to spend the night with Goolu and Jaloo. Several women Residents are taking rotations so there is always someone with them. Goolu is getting ready to join Baba some time soon.

Thursday 5 October. I woke up early and made tea for Jaloo. Goolu is no longer allowed to have any. My body feels sore from this Chickungunya. It is extremely hard to get up and down, grunts and groans are required. Since my wrists are especially tender I find it difficult using them as support. Imagine trying to get up from the floor using only your arms—you got it, it is difficult!!!

I stayed home most of the day to work on the quilt. In the afternoon at 4:00 PM, there was the weekly "Music on the Porch" (an impromptu jam session) at our M & A Center. In the evening a Baba movie was shown in the Dining Hall of the Retreat.

Friday 6 October. I took our bus to the Trust in Ahmednagar. I stopped to say hi to Bhauji. He is so cute and adorable!

I went into the bazaar to buy red material for the backing and border of the quilt. Red is Rachel's favorite color and so I will do the final part of the quilt in red. When I got home I went to lunch at the Banyan Tree Café; a place you will almost always find other Residents or pilgrims.

In the afternoon at 4:00 PM in the old Meher Pilgrim Center Dining Hall, tea and donuts were served. At 4:30 PM Bhauji gave a talk.

Saturday 7 October. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I put flowers on His stretcher, the Gadi, and the threshold of the Samadhi. All the trees and plants were wet, it must have rained during the night. When I got down the hill to Lower Meherabad I cleaned the Jhopdi and Table House.

At 10:00 AM I went to the old Meher Pilgrim Center to meet pilgrims for the Historical Tour of Meherabad. Later, I spent the rest of the day in my room working on the quilt.

At 4:00 PM, tea and cake were served on the Music & Arts Demonstration Center (theatre) verandah. At 4:30 PM a movie about Eruch "Becoming His, Caught in Meher Baba's net" was shown.

Sunday 8 October. I stayed home working on the quilt. I leave on the 25th for America, so I have a choice to make—attend the many functions at Meherabad, Meherazad, and the Trust, or finish my granddaughter's seven-year-old birthday present.

Monday 9 October. I took a rickshaw to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat for my day of duty. There were no arrivals, just a nice and easy day.

Debjani, the other Resident who gives the Historical Tour of Meherabad, was at the MPC at 10:00 AM to give a virtual tour. Debjani also has Chickungunya and cannot walk far. So, she thought she could at least sit-down telling of the historical buildings. Then she would walk the pilgrims to the Jhopdi and open it for them. The Jhopdi is where Beloved Baba began His silence. It is about a half-minute walk from the MPC.

The four months of rain continued. In the morning it poured rain, and again in the afternoon the rain came down in buckets.

The bus left the Retreat at 3:30 PM to take pilgrims to the old MPC for Bhau's talk at 4:30 PM. Tea and popcorn was served in the Dining Hall at 4:00 PM.

Tuesday 10 October. I worked on my quilt most of the day. In the afternoon at 4:30 PM, Janet Judson gave a tour of the Archive building. Then, at 6:00 PM I went to the Samadhi for my duty.

All around the Samadhi new dirt is being brought in by tractor since much dirt has been washed away in the rain. Some of the dirt has been spread around the Samadhi area, while some remains in piles.

Something really cute happened while I was on duty at the Samadhi. Because of all the rain, we have frogs all over the place. A baby frog hopped past where I was standing and went straight toward the threshold of the Samadhi. He was only a couple of feet away when Hardeep was able to scoop it up and put it safely outside the area. It looked like the baby frog wanted to take Baba's Darshan!

Wednesday 11 October. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Mehera's shrine. Next, I put flowers in Baba's Cabin Room, the Gadi, and the Samadhi threshold before going back down the hill.

When I arrived at the Retreat for my half-day duty, I spoke with one of the women pilgrims there. She is here with her two sons, who have just graduated from high school. It seems last evening one of the son's was in a car returning to the Retreat from being out to dinner with friends. Suddenly, four men, two on each motorcycle, began to escort the car: the men were holding clubs. The men were our Meherabad hired security guards who work the night shift.

The Baba lovers in the car were not sure what was going on. When they went through the Arangaon village railroad crossing, they passed a group of around 100 village men also holding clubs. Some of the village men got on their motorcycles and helped escort the car to the Retreat. The men stayed and patrolled the Retreat area most of the night.

It seems what had happen is a gang of about sixteen bad men, who had robbed and beaten people from a neighboring village the night before, tried to do the same this night in the Arangaon village. Little did the bad men know that the Arangaon village, Meherabad, and our surrounding community had worked out a security system. In the village, they have a bell that is rung if a gang attacks. Many men immediately grab clubs and assemble to the area of the bell.

When the story was being told to me, many of our Retreat workers had gathered. I told the men how proud I was of their courage! I thanked them for also protecting the pilgrims.

In the evening I went back up the hill to spend the night with Goolu and Jaloo.

Thursday 12 October. Dhuni Day. I worked on the quilt until I took our bus to Nagar'. I had to get more material for the backing of the quilt. I had made a mistake and cut a piece wrong, it being too short in one area. While in the bazaar I remembered one of my grandsons wanted a cup with a dog handle, I found one for him.

Evening Arti was at 5:00 PM and the Dhuni was lit at 6:10 PM.

Friday 13 October. Worked on the quilt. There is a pond in the quilt. I made fishes for it. In the afternoon at 4:00 PM, tea and donuts were served at the MPC. Bhau gave his talk at 4:30 PM.

Saturday 14 October. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. I got ready for the 10:00 AM Historical Tour of Meherabad. I meet the pilgrims at the old MPC.

At 3:30 PM the Retreat bus took pilgrims to the Music & Arts Center. Tea and cake were served on the verandah at 4:00 PM. At 4:30 PM the movie, Tukaram, was shown. Tukaram was a Perfect Master. Eruch used to watch the movie all the time just before he went to Baba.

Sunday 15 October. I stayed home to work on the quilt. Prema, my assistant during Amartithi for Baba's Cabin Room, came by to go over the written instruction that she put together. I am so grateful for her willingness to help.

Monday 16 October. The anniversary of Beloved Baba's New Life. Usually I divide the Meherabad Diary into two sections each month, the 1st to the 15th, and then the 16th to the end of the month. But, since I will not be writing any more Diaries until I return to India, I wanted to add the New Life anniversary day—it was fun!

It was my scheduled day at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. However, I asked Suzie to cover for me in the morning so I could go on the Trust sponsored New Life Walk (Padyatra). The bus to the Trust Office in Ahmednagar was to leave from the road in front of the Dhuni by 7:20 AM. When I got there the only bus in sight was so packed not another body could be squeezed into it. We who were left had to wait for another bus to be sent; there were about fifty of us waiting.

When we reached the Trust Compound, there was commotion everywhere. In one area, a table was set up for a new system of issuing badges to each participant. One of the reasons for the badges was to make sure those who went on the walk would be served first for lunch at Hostel-D. Last year the participants got there after the walk, hungry and tired, only to find they had to wait to eat because the local villagers had gathered for the lunch and had already form a very long line. Now, those who wear a badge would enter the line before anyone else.

Another table in the Trust Compound had tea and refreshments. Baba's rainbow colored flags was being distributed. On top of the hood of a jeep were wooden signs, with His sayings on them. Some of the Westerners picked a few up. I made sure I had a flag. I discovered there still were not enough flags, only a few, as in previous years.

I decided to ask Mehernath (Bhauji's son), if he would like me to have more flags made for next year. He was happy with the idea and offer of help. So, it looks like I will take a more active part in our annual New Life Padyatra (walk). Another Baba lover from Turkey also wanted to assist in helping; we will stay in touch through the Internet. We were sharing a lot of ideas for future Padyatra's.

The older children from the Meher English School led the Padyatra, a banner was held by several children in the very front. This year there was only one jeep with speakers attached to the top. Another jeep held a large portrait of Baba. And, one jeep had large water containers inside to issue to the thirsty during the walk. We filed out of the Trust to assemble across the street. Then the Padyatra in honor of Beloved Baba's New Life began.

We walked, chanting His name, holding His flag, and singing songs. The time went quickly. Our first break was at the Jain temple. Last year was the first year we stopped there. They have offered to serve us tea and refreshments each year for the Padyatra. It is so kind of them.

We had one other stop for refreshments, picking up individually packed bags of fruit as we walked. We were on the Dhond Road (one day probably called Meherabad Road). We stopped when we reached the Dhuni area. Several children, dressed in special clothes, sang a song. During the singing another child threw rose petals towards Baba's photo. I don't know what the words meant, but it was obvious it was a sacred song.

We all then went up the hill to take Darshan at Beloved Baba's Samadhi. By this time the hill seemed like a mountain because my feet were hurting. On past New Life Padyatras my feet did not bother me at all. But remember, I have Chickungunya. It was really starting to affect me at this time. I wondered how I was to manage getting back down the hill once I finally made it up.

On the way back down the hill I decided to take a rickshaw to Hostel-D. I would need one anyway to go the Meher Pilgrim Retreat for my scheduled duty. The rickshaw waited until after I had lunch. It was so very nice to sit and ride!

It is truly a thrill of the heart to be among so many lovers of God, singing His praise, singing songs that show the harmony of all religions. Holding His flag, with not only the colors of the various religions, but also of the beauty of His creation. It was glorious!

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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