Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


16 to 28 February 2007

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Friday 16 February 2007. I woke early and cleaned out one of my trunks. The metal trunk I was going to give to the Reception Office at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. Adair was on duty as a Receptionist on Friday. Since she was driving her car, I caught a ride up to the Retreat with the trunk.

I put the trunk in our 'luggage storage room'. As time passes, we get more decorations and blinking lights. It feels good to know the decorations will be better protected when kept in a solid trunk.

After doing a few more things at the Retreat, I walked to the Samadhi. It was so pleasant sitting in the Samadhi. Hardly anyone was around. I mean, now there are almost always some people on the hill. So, seeing almost no one around makes me feel like I have Baba to myself.

On my way down the hill, I noticed Hussein, the mason, working at the Men Mandeli's grave area. I went over to see what he was doing. I was amazed that the cover for Jangle Master's grave was already finished. Usually there is a wait of a year before making the grave cover. Hussein was working on the marble headstone that sits into the grave cover.

I spent most of the rest of the day doing some writing on the computer. I finished the project by evening. Before it got dark, I picked flowers for Saturday morning.

Saturday 17 February. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM. After cleaning Baba's Cabin Room I put flowers on His stretcher, then I put flowers on the Gadi and the threshold of the Samadhi. I saw Dolly, who asked if I would like to bring the beautiful beaded pillow cover and other matching covers for Baba's Cabin for His Birthday. I of course very happily said yes! We will change everything next Saturday. Then, I headed down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House. I was happy to see Mariko and Joseph there to help.

By 10:00 AM I was at the old MPC to give the Historical Tour of Meherabad. Though my energy was low, I was able to give the whole tour. I rested for part of the afternoon. Then I did some more work on the computer.

Sunday 18 February. I started my day by doing my workout. It felt so good to be able to do it. Next, I went out into the garden and did some planting and weeding. I have been so tired, and I found it very relaxing to work in the garden.

I found four mice up on the roof of my front verandah. I also found they would go up and down the wall behind the metal cabinet I have had on the verandah for at least ten years. I feel a strong need to 'clean house' and decided to get rid of the metal cabinet. I moved it away from the wall and had Sulu sweep the mice droppings. I am going to have a small wooden cabinet built in the place where the tall metal cabinet has been. I will need the cabinet to store garden supplies, etc.

In the afternoon, I made some potting soil mix to take to the Retreat on Monday. I have the plant I bought for the Reception Office, but no one has had any potting soil. Then I called Kishore, one of the Trust workers. He came over after he got off work. Together we talked about what would be needed for the barbwire fence. Marge and I want one made along the back road that goes to the Meher Hospital. We think the thieves look into our yard from this road. So, we will put tall plants that will block the view.

Monday 19 February. I had a rickshaw take me, and the bucket of potting soil to the Retreat. Jagtop, one of the gardeners, potted the ficas tree for me.

We have almost 100 pilgrims at the Retreat. More are coming for Baba's Birthday. So, you can imagine how busy the Reception Office was during the day. I did not have five minutes to myself. I even ate lunch at my desk.

I was told about the group of Chinese pilgrims who were at the Retreat. I went to meet them in the Dining Hall during lunch. There were ten, four men and six women. They are very sweet! They were leaving on Tuesday, so I went into the Reception Office and got a Baba flag to give them to take back to China. I am keeping some on my shelf. This way, I have them handy to give out. The flags are the ones that fly up on the hill, by Baba's Samadhi. When they become faded or too torn, they are replaced with a new one. So, when the flag is given to someone, they can see it has been used.

By the time I finished for the day, it was 7:00 PM. This meant I worked for ten hours without a break—eating lunch at my desk. I tried to get a rickshaw to take me home, but none were available. I had to borrow a torch (flashlight) from the Lobbyman, and walk home. It would not have been so unpleasant; the weather was quite lovely, with a soft breeze. It was my shoes! They were not made for uneven, gravely, rocky, dusty paths. Every few steps my shoes would attract dirt between my feet and the shoes. This would cause me to have to shake my foot. Now, that doesn't sound so bad. Except, I had to walk this way for over a mile. I was so relieved to get home, because my feet hurt and I almost had blisters.

Tuesday 20 February. I did my workout and had breakfast before Sulu arrived. She showed me the plants she planted yesterday. Sulu is Anne and my housekeeper. Kishore came by with an estimate of cost for the supplies to build the barbwire fence. Marge and I again went over what we wanted done. We are tired of the thieves coming around.

I gave away the metal cabinet I had on my porch. I will just have to put my stuff from it somewhere until Kishore has time to make the wooden cabinet.

I rode my scooter to the Retreat to meet John Gunn. He is the one who designed our computer program. He also is continually doing updates. I am going to have a cabinet and table made for the computer server room. John showed me what he needed.

I then saw Debjani at the Retreat. She told me one of the Chinese men had an 'experience' at the Samadhi. She said the man saw a great light that was Baba, and that this light enveloped him. Debjani said some of the Chinese women had tears running down their faces from Baba's love. I love hearing stories like this one.

At 4:30 PM, Jessica Mednick gave a tour of the Archive Building. Everyone was to meet next to Baba's Cabin Room on the hill.

In the evening, I went to the Samadhi for my 6:00 PM duty. There are a lot of Iranians still here and they sang their Arti right after the regular one. They have a lot of passion when they sing.

Wednesday 21 February. I took a rickshaw to the Retreat. As soon as the Reception Office doors were opened, some arrivals walked in, and that began my morning. It was busy as usual. With over a hundred pilgrims now, and more daily coming for Baba's Birthday, we are going to be quite full. I had about 14 expected arrivals.

I saw a number of notices scotch taped to the glass on the Dining Hall entrance doors—a favorite place of ours to put notices of immediate attention. One requested volunteers for make-up and hair for the play on Sunday. One requested volunteers to help the Receptionists on Friday and Saturday as many pilgrims were expected each day. And a third volunteer request was for 'feeding the poor' on Saturday from 12 noon to 2:00 PM at the Trust Compound in Ahmednagar.

At 2:00 PM, I went home as it was Suzie's afternoon shift. On the way home I saw Baba's flag flying above the Arangaon Baba Center and above a Baba lovers home a few buildings from the Center. It was a thrill to see! Our darling Baba's flag flying above homes!

When I got home, I read for one hour, and then got my video camera and went to the MPC Hall to set up for Bhauji's talk. This was the fourth of a series of five talks on Service that Bhau was to give to all the residents and volunteer workers. The Hall was packed, as usual. I looked at all the Baba lovers and I thought how many are now helping, not just residents, full and part-time, but, now those who live in the condos and extended community. It is the beginning of what I can see; one-day only Baba lovers working here in every capacity. It fills my heart with joy to think of it.

Indira provided tea and cookies. She and her husband help run Hostel-D kitchen. Then at 4:30 PM Bhauji began his talk. At 6:00 PM Bhauji noticed the time and looked surprised. He said, "It is already 6:00 PM and I have just warmed up!" We all laughed at that, knowing our Bhau loves to talk and talk and talk. But, he had to stop because it was time.

I went home, dropped off my camera, fed my dog Foundy, had a quick bite to eat, and went to another meeting. We Receptionists and Housekeeping had a 6:45 PM meeting in the Spiritual Training Academy. We wanted to talk about Amartithi, what went right and what problems we had. We all agreed we needed more help, hired and volunteer. We will meet with all the Retreat volunteer staff on Wednesday to talk about Amartithi. Then the first Sunday in March we will meet with the Meherabad Trustees to cover Amartithi and problems we had.

Thursday 22 February. I was too tired to do my workout. Instead I went into the garden and did a little work. Kishore came by to see if I was happy with the holes dug for the fence. Yes, it was a good job. Kishore asked me to get permission for him to use Hostel-B equipment to drill holes in the metal poles for the barbwire. So, at 9:00 AM I went to the store where all the workers gather for their daily assignment. After getting permission, I went home and worked on the computer.

I rode my scooter to the Retreat at 4:00 PM. I had an appointment to video some Baba lovers who went to the 1969 Darshan in Pune. Billy Ward, Susan Herr, and Billy Files were there when I arrived. We decided to go to Susan's condo for the videoing, since it would be quieter.

Billy Ward and Susan Herr were on the same airline going to the 69' Darshan. So, I had them together. Each told how they heard about the Darshan and what led them up to the point where they were on the plane. Then they both shared in the plane story and the journey to Pune.

After Susan and Billy Ward finished their stories, they sat back and Billy Files told his story. He was only eighteen when he raised enough money to fly to England, and then take the land route to India. He arrived in Pune, almost totally broke, hungry, and dirty. He was not scheduled for any of the group Darshan. He ended up having some very special care and special time with the Mandali. He also got to have his Darshan with Baba on a one to one basis.

These stories and other 1969 Darshan attendees will be available one day with the Los Angeles Baba Center. It is interesting, at this same time, Amber Mahler is here doing interviews for a book of the 1969 Darshan that Bal Natu wanted done.

In the evening, one of the Receptionists called me and asked about decorations. She said she would do the Torun, and would I do the foyer area? I have been so exhausted, that the idea of having to do anything seems like a mountain hike. But she did say how we are in a new place now, etc. Though extremely tired, I did agree with her. It would be nice to start decorating for Baba's birthday. The only reason we never did before was we were all so tired by this time of year. I decided to see if I could get help from the pilgrims on Friday.

Friday 23 February. I got up late again. It is so hard to get up early if I don't have to. Yet, I love to get up early—I just don't have the energy right now. By 8:45 AM I had finished breakfast and went with Adair in her car to the Retreat.

I went straight into the Dining Hall and asked for volunteers to decorate. About six Iranians, some new to Baba, were eager to help. I got out the decorations, and then they began. It soon became apparent to me they had a good feel for what would look good. So, I just stepped aside and let them do it. After a while, I decided to go back to my room and work on sewing the beaded 'Mastery in Servitude' back onto the blue pillow cover for Baba's birthday.

After a couple of hours, I rode my scooter back to the Retreat to see how things were going. The Iranians were still working on decorating!!! It was looking so pretty! They have such a sense of balance and beauty. Feeling happy that the decorating was looking so pretty, I knew they did not need me. So, I got back on my scooter and went back to my room to continue the sewing. This sewing turned out to take a lot longer than I thought it would!

I rode my scooter one more time to the Retreat to put away the trunk the decorations were in. I was amazed at how beautiful the foyer looked! What a fabulous job they did!

I saw on the Receptionist desk, the tickets for the birthday play that had to be given out to the pilgrims. Jal started the ticket business last year, because a lot of village adults and children would eat the cake and ice cream and take the seats in the theatre, leaving many pilgrims to not get any cake and also to have to stand for the play. Then, about fifteen minutes after the play started, they would get up and leave. So, now, you need a ticket to get any cake, ice cream and tea, plus the ticket allows you to enter the theater. This birthday program is for Baba's pilgrims and Lovers only.

I asked if she had the Residents tickets. She said I would have to get those from Jal. Once again I got on my scooter. This time I rode first to the Samadhi to take Baba's Darshan. Under the tin shed the floor had just been treated with cow dung. They do it every year just before Baba's birthday.

When I got to Jal's office, he handed me a stack of tickets for the residents. Since I don't have time to give them out, I just put a sign on the community board and in the Savages Kitchen informing everyone the tickets would be with me in my room.

When I got home I picked flowers for the morning. Then continued sewing until I finished in time to go to sleep.

Saturday 24 February. I was up the hill by 5:15 AM. I gave myself the extra time because we were going to change the curtains, shelf cover, stretcher cover and pillow cover. There were four of us cleaning. After everything received a very good cleaning, we changed the covers. Then we put the hand-made flower garland on the stretcher.

I went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi and Table House with Joseph and Mariko. After that I just went home, had breakfast and took a long nap. After resting most of the day, at 4:00 PM I had some tea and went back up the hill. Under the tin shed they were cutting roses and stringing flowers. There were two huge metal tubs full of flowers. By the time we finished at 6:30 PM there were at least thirty people helping.

I was sitting next to one of the workers from Hostel-D. She said that they just came up the hill from checking in 100 pilgrims. So, there are almost 200 pilgrims in the Hostels.

At the Meher Pilgrim Retreat, over 50 pilgrims were expected. So, that made the numbers there at close to 170 pilgrims.

Next to Baba's Gadi, there is a Rangoli (design made from colored powdered). This one had two peacocks with a lotus flower above and between them. Each design held one of the numbers for Baba's 113 Birthday. The Rangoli are always lovely. The Samadhi portical area also was decorated. Everything was looking festive for Beloved Baba's Birthday.

Sunday 25 February. I woke to my alarm ringing at 3:00 AM. I immediately went to the kitchen and got a cup of coffee—okay, it was two cups, one right after the other. Then I was awake enough to get ready and leave the house by 3:45 AM.

When I got up the hill there were already quite a few pilgrims. I was very happy when I saw there was still a couple of good sitting spots. I put my scarf and a basket of some of the garlands I bought on a spot to save my space. The flowerwala had seen me when I arrived and gave me my garlands. The line was not long, so I was able to take Darshan inside the Samadhi and then sit in my place.

At the Retreat, the wake up bell was 3:30 AM, Tea was served at 4:00 AM, and at 4:15 AM the bus left for the Samadhi. We had over 170 pilgrims at the Retreat, and Hostel-D had close to 200. Including the Baba community, the Samadhi area soon became full of His lovers.

At 4:50 AM, Ted Judson made an announcement that we would began singing Baba's name, followed by the Arti, and then singing Happy Birthday to Baba. After that everyone could began singing. Then Baba's lovers so lovingly began chanting His name.

The singing after Arti went on for at least two hours. By that time, I left to go get some tea that was being served under the tin shed. I was beginning to feel tired, so I walked home, fed my dog, and took a much-wanted nap.

I went to have an early lunch at the Blue Tank. At 1:30 PM my rickshaw came and I went to pick Virginia up. I brought her back to my room and had her rest on my bed until it would be time to go to the theatre.

While Virginia was resting, I went to the theater and saved five seats by tying some green ribbon in and out of the chairs. We would be sitting near the front. While at the theater I saw the decorations were being put up by a group of Iranian men. They did a good job

This was also the 3rd Annual Art Exhibit on the verandah of the theater. The Exhibit was from 3:30 PM until the play began at 4:30 PM. Tea and cake was served on the verandah.

Tickets had been given out. But, one of the problems was some who came with a ticket also came with two or three little children. We tried to tell the adults they had to hold the children on their laps. But, how is one woman going to hold three little children? Sure enough, when I walked around inside the theater, I saw some of these women having their children taking separate seats. We had a full house, so some people had to stand. We are going to have to restrict who can come from now on—it isn't fair to make pilgrims stand when these little children, who do not understand English, take up seats.

Bhauji and Meheru both arrived just before the play started. First, there was singing. The Trust Office accountants sang a quawali song they wrote for the occasion. Then the choir, directed by Debbie Nordeen came on stage and sang two songs—which the audience was also able to sing along. The energy of the audience was of excitement and happiness.

Alan Wagner came on stage and introduced the play. The play was about the life of Milarepa, who became a Perfect Master, and his master, Marpa. It was one of the best plays! Of course, I think I say that every year. The audience so much enjoyed it, that we started throwing the roses that were placed around the theater, onto the stage, while wildly cheering!

When the play was over, I put Virginia in a car to be taken home, and I went to my room to rest. I saw Kishore and two of his helpers were working on the fence. They had begun to put up the metal poles and cement them into place.

I was very tired, and so just rested and read in my room until I went to sleep.

Monday 26 February. I had a rickshaw pick me up at 8:30 AM so I could be at the Retreat by 9:00 AM. It is very exciting when we cross the railroad tracks and we don't have to sit there and wait twenty minutes for a train. I opened the Reception Office doors at 8:50 AM and immediately pilgrims came in. The number sleeping there on the night of the 25th was 147—many were to leave in the morning, but still, there would be a lot still at the Retreat.

The decorations in the foyer looked so pretty. I am sorry I will have to take them down in a few days. The morning went fast. Huma Alavaro has been translating our rules into Spanish. So, she came into the office to use our computer.

Before leaving for the day, I watered all the plants in our office. They really make a difference in warming up the place.

After getting home, I went to the Blue Tank for lunch. Then I worked on the computer for a while took a nap and later went to bed at 8:30 PM. My eyes were so heavy I could not keep them open.

Tuesday 27 February. This was the last day Meherazad would be open for pilgrims until July. I had hired a car and took Virginia and my neighbor, Marge. It was Katie's birthday, and she got wished Happy Birthday several times with singing. There was also ice cream passed around before the pilgrims left.

On the way home I had to stop at the bank. Then we stopped at the restaurant, Sweet Home, and we got out and all had ice cream. I got Virginia three scoops—she actually said she had enough when I asked if she wanted more. I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday 28 February. I took a rickshaw to the Retreat. Walking up the ramp, I enjoyed seeing the glittering streamers and other shiny decorations in the foyer. The morning light makes it look like lights are winking. I will have to take them down soon.

The morning was busy as usual. We had an 11:00 AM meeting of all the volunteer staff of the Retreat. We wanted to cover issues we would bring up when we meet with the Meherabad Trustees in a week.

The meeting lasted until 1:45 PM. Those who were eating the lunch at the Retreat had to hurry before the food was taken off the table. Since it was a half-day in the Reception Office, I went to organize everything so Suzie could make sense of what I had been doing before the meeting.

Then I got a rickshaw to Alan's house, where a birthday lunch was finishing up. I did get a chance to visit the pilgrim whose birthday it was, as well as getting to eat some of that good food.

It was too late to take a nap, so I had some coffee and just sat around and read for a while. Then, at 6:00 PM I had Samadhi duty. The Samadhi is still decorated with the pretty birthday decorations. Baba's Cabin Room also has the birthday covers in it. Maybe Saturday we will change it again.

It was a busy month, with our dear Baba's birthday finishing it off. The weather is changing to hot during the day. But, like usual, the wind has picked up. It makes the heat not so bad. It is absolutely lovely in the evening. The kind of weather one likes to take a walk in.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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