For several years, I have had the desire to show up at Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri, India without telling my son and daughter (Sreejit and Chaitanya) that I was coming. I loved fantasizing about how surprised they would be.
Imagining it and making it happen were two different things though. My children have lived at the ashram for many years and have many friends. The chances of me registering to come and them not finding out seemed nearly impossible. Not only would word travel at the ashram, but many, if not most, of people I know in Seattle have connections in the ashram as well.
I decided in order to accomplish my goal, I would have to keep my plan secret from almost everyone, both in India and Seattle. But that still didn’t solve the problem of how to deal with registering, arranging for an ashram taxi, making sure my flat was available and ready, etc.
Just prior to attending Amma’s Chicago area programs in June, I thought of someone who might help me figure it out. Our paths crossed soon after I arrived at the program, and when I explained the situation, she immediately thought of a person who might be able to make the necessary arrangements. He was very happy to participate in creating the surprise.
Sreejit and Chaitanya were puzzled that I was not planning to come to Amma’s Toronto programs, the last programs of the summer tour. Whenever they mentioned it, I smiled inside and said no, I was not going to Toronto this year. Long before Amma’s tour ended, I booked my ticket to India.
I am a firm believer in the “Tomorrow’s not promised” philosophy. I am never convinced I will be going to the ashram until I am getting out of the taxi on the ashram property. On July 13, I fell when walking through our Greenbelt restoration project. I caught myself with my hand and broke my wrist. How could I go to India in this condition? I knew I would have to wait until my July 25 doctor’s appointment to find out if I would need surgery. On that day, I learned that the bone was healing well and no surgery was needed. The doctor supported me in taking the trip.
The next two weeks I spent preparing to go. That wasn’t easy considering I had very little use of my right hand. At least by then I was in a splint that didn’t cover my fingers or elbow. Slowly but surely, I accomplished the things that I needed to accomplish.
The weekend before I left, I spent with friends in our local Amma community. Again, I smiled inside knowing that I would soon be writing them from India to let them know I had been keeping a big secret from them.
On August 11, I stepped out of the taxi in Amritapuri. I took my belongings to my flat and soon thereafter walked up the stairs to my daughter’s room and knocked on the door. When she asked who was there, I made a nondescript sound. She opened the door and I saw the look of shocked surprise I had been dreaming of. An hour later, I walked up behind Sreejit while he was working. I stepped in front of him and saw that same look of confusion followed by excitement. My dream had been realized… they were so surprised… and we were all happy to be together again.
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