Be like a bird
Amma says we should be a bird perched on a dry twig, ready to fly at a moment’s notice. She is really good at giving us opportunities to work on that lesson. Last year, since the play was on public darshan day, we expected to present it on the floor of the auditorium instead of on the stage where Amma is hugging people. The play was prepared with that plan in mind.
Then on December 20, Amma told us that she would stop darshan early so she could watch the play with us. That meant that the play would be on the stage. The backdrops were WAY too long for the stage and would all have to be altered. The stage was smaller than what had been designed for the auditorium so both the acting and dances had to be reworked to fit in the smaller space. It was amazing how well the cast worked together to make the changes.
The same thing happened this year, but in the opposite direction. We had prepared to present the play on the stage and three days before the event Amma said since the crowds were large, she would be giving darshan on the stage. Therefore, the play would be performed on the auditorium floor in front of her. That way she could watch it while she was hugging those who came to receive her blessing. Again many aspects of the play had to be reconfigured. The cast was used to this type of challenge by now, so they laughed and cheered and began to make the necessary alterations.
Once the costumes were made, they all had to be ironed. It took four for five people many hours over a three day period to accomplish that task. One day, I was irritated because the only iron available to me was so heavy. It reminded me of the heavy irons from centuries past, the ones that were placed on a stove to get hot. I learned to tip the iron onto the fabric rather than pick it up each time I moved it. Once I got my technique down, I discovered that it was actually the best iron of all of them. It was so heavy it seemed like it flattened many of the wrinkles through its weight! It was a good lesson in remembering that there is a lot I don’t know and my judgments may be wrong.
The day of the play finally arrived. The last rehearsals had gone well and everyone was ready.
There is only one story in the Bible about Jesus as a child. This play was about what Jesus might have been like when he was growing up, as well as what it might have been like to be his parents, siblings or friends. It also contained scenes about John the Baptist and about the 40 days and nights Jesus was tempted by Satan. While Jesus is known as a peacemaker, he also challenged the traditional religious teachings, so that area was addressed as well.
At one point in the play, Joseph told the children the story of David and Goliath. Our Goliath was a 12 foot high puppet! A man was inside of the puppet carrying him on his shoulders. As I’m sure you can imagine, Goliath was a major attraction!
The play was absolutely wonderful. The singing, dancing and acting were remarkable. (You can click on any picture in the gallery to enlarge them all.)
After the play was over, Amma gave her Christmas message and then we all received Christmas cake. If you are interested, you can read Amma’s speech at: http://www.amritapuri.org/50818/15-christmas.aum
Very late on Christmas Eve, big groups of Indians started arriving and on Christmas day the crowd was huge. That evening we went to the beach to meditate with Amma and the whole time we were there people continued to come. I have never seen that many people on the beach at one time.
At 6:15 or so we returned to the auditorium for bhajans (devotional singing). There were so many people that everyone couldn’t fit in the auditorium. It has been quite a while since I’ve seen the auditorium that full!
Play cast celebration
On Christmas day the play cast had a party. Devapriya and Chaitanya had prepared a funny skit. Goliath was part of it as well. Sreejit was Goliath’s voice. I took some pictures so you could see Goliath close up.
Morning prayers (archana)
I had started staying in my room during the morning prayers and reading one of the chants in Devanagari (Sanskrit) script during that time. At first I did that was because I had lost my archana book, and then because I wasn’t waking up in time to get to the temple before the prayers started. It was also a way for me to practice my Sanskrit. One day this week though I was awakened at 3:30 in morning, by the computer! I hadn’t logged out, but I had closed the cover and everything had turned off. I had left the internet stick inserted but it was off too. At 3:30, the computer started making noise. When I looked to see what was going on, there were lights flashing several feet around it. That had never happened before and I was mystified. It was as if the computer had turned itself on. I couldn’t go back to sleep so decided I was “supposed” to go to archana in the temple, and did.
December 26 was a challenging day for me. I was very triggered by several things that happened in the early morning. Soon thereafter, someone approached me and asked if I would like to take a picture of an insect. I went with them and was very intrigued by what I saw.
I chose to believe that being given the opportunity to see this creature, which I think was a very young praying mantis, was either a reward for weathering the challenges, or something to lift my spirits. Since that day ended with more triggering events, I was very glad when it was over.
A positive thing about the 26th was that we had two Tai Chi classes! I am so in love with that process. We’ve had two teachers working with us. Dave returned to Canada a few days ago and Stephanie will leave on January 2. I will miss learning from them but look forward to practicing what I have learned on my own, and hopefully will find another teacher when I get back to Seattle.
I can already feel changes in my body from doing it. It seems to me that my body is more relaxed, that my posture has improved and that I am looking straight in front of me instead of down. I look forward to seeing if it has any effect on my scoliosis. Most important though is that it brings me into a meditative state.
Time with Amma
I have been so busy since I’ve been here that I haven’t spent much time with Amma. She leaves January 5 on her South Kerala tour and I will be gone when she comes back to Amritapuri. I am going to make sure that I go to the beach meditations on Mondays and Fridays and will hand her prasad (the candy and ash she gives everyone she hugs) every darshan day!
I can’t believe that there are less than two weeks left in this trip. I wonder what other lessons and experiences will come my way before I leave.