Single Mom

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by Helen Purcell)

With no job, and two children to support, I felt all alone and in desperate need of spiritual guidance and inspiration. A friend had recently moved to Ananda and she suggested I come there for Spiritual Renewal Week. I knew nothing about Master, and had never met Swami Kriyananda, but I had promised God I would walk through every door He opened for me, so I said yes.

Usually I sit in the back of any crowd, but for Swamiji’s first class, I sat right in the front row, virtually at his feet. Directly in front of me there was a large photograph of Master.

Swamiji spoke about the need to “open the heart.” That phrase struck a deep chord within me. I stared into Master’s eyes and he – not the photograph, but the living presence behind it – stared back at me. 

I was intensely aware of Swamiji’s presence, too, but his words had become a musical hum and I no longer followed the meaning. The three of us – Master, Swamiji, and I – formed a triangle of energy. My heart filled to overflowing with an inexplicable sweetness. I knew I had found my home.

In two weeks, I packed up all our belongings, rented out our house, and came to Ananda. The only housing available was a converted shed, which at that time didn’t even have indoor plumbing. 

My daughters, eight and eleven years old, were appalled by our sudden change in circumstances, and often spoke longingly of the comfortable home and the friends they had left behind. It took every ounce of my energy to earn a living, take care of my children, and keep my attitude upbeat so as to lead by example. It was a difficult transition.

New Year’s Day is my birthday and Swamiji was holding an open house for the community. My children were away visiting their father—we had been divorced for many years—so I was free to go. I decided to walk the two miles to Swamiji’s home.

It had been snowing for days. The forest was magical, pure white and silent, except for the occasional whoosh as a branch released its accumulated load of snow. It could have been a beautiful walk with God, but I was feeling sorry for myself, and all alone on my birthday. Inwardly, I prayed to Master.

“I am so grateful to be at Ananda,” I said, “but you know it hasn’t been easy. I’m not asking for a husband, but sometimes I feel so alone. I long for someone just to hold my hand.”

Swamiji was standing in the doorway of his house, greeting the community members as they streamed in. 

When he saw me, he reached out, took me by the hand and drew me to stand next to him. He didn’t say anything, or even look at me. He just went on greeting his guests, holding my hand, the way I hold my children when we walk through a crowded place and I want to be sure they don’t wander away from me. 

After about five minutes, when everyone had arrived, Swamiji turned and smiled at me so sweetly, as if to say, “Don’t worry. You are not alone.” Then he let go of my hand and we went into the living room so he could begin the satsang. 

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