This year a lot of devotees from Washington State came to Amritapuri for Christmas, one of them being my Seattle friend Marmot. She related a funny story to me last night and I told her if she would write it down, I would post it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Merry Christmas Meltdown:
It happened to Scrooge, the Grinch and it happened to me. I was in a funk…”It’s too hot here, too buggy, I miss my friends (NOT my immediate family, they are on top of me ALL the time!), and I want a bed!” The list goes on.
Even being around Amma, the saintly figure who emanates pure love and compassion didn’t help. It was Christmas and NOTHING was right, not the smells or the food or the surroundings.
But then I spied him standing in the lunch line. It was Santa! He was a very thin Santa, but he had on a full red suit (poor guy must have been sweating buckets!) and had a full, real white beard.
He doesn’t hold much notoriety around these parts. Thousands were in line to get a hug from Amma, but nobody was giving the guy a second glance, and he was in trouble! He was arguing with the cashier because he didn’t have enough money to pay for his lunch. He was trying to barter some of the little hard candies he had in his tiny bag, but the cashier was disgruntled.
I saw my opportunity and said, “Santa, this one’s on me!” I bought skinny Santa lunch! It was a big lunch and cost all of 75 rupees ($1.25)! He smiled and gave me a hard candy. And then it happened. My heart melted as fast as chocolate on a Kerala (the state we are in) Christmas day. I think it grew three sizes, just like the Grinch’s. Tears of joy were streaming down my face.
I looked around and everything was PERFECT: the coconut palms, the heat, the people. I was in India on Christmas with my family, what could be better? I was in love with each of the thousands of strangers surrounding me. I kept saying to myself, “I bought Santa lunch, what a Christmas miracle!” The child part of me fantasized that I had just saved the children of the Western hemisphere…as it was still Christmas eve over there and that skinny Santa had a long way to go yet!
My meltdown in the middle of the lunch area didn’t attract much attention. Just like Santa’s lack of notoriety, a westerner weeping uncontrollably doesn’t really turn heads here (I think it happens too often for anyone to make a fuss about it!)
And just like the Grinch, I am forever changed. Except how am I going to explain this to people: I went on a spiritual sojourn to India, met Gurus and Saints, and visited ancient temples, but had a peak experience with Santa in the lunch line?