Nearing the end of my trip
In an attempt to prevent a last minute rush, I started sorting through my belonging early in the week. I put anything I wanted to keep, but didn’t want to take with me, into two small trunks, washed clothes and towels, and began to clean. My flat is used by ashram guests throughout the year, so it is important that the room is prepared for them.
I spent as much time as I could with Chaitanya and Sreejit, which isn’t easy since they are both working in their respective jobs most of the time. I could tell that they were going out of their way to be with me too, which was very nice.
Lunch with Amma
Tuesday was the day that Amma serves lunch to everyone. I love the new process that has been implemented this year. Instead of thousands of people getting their plate directly from Amma, she passes the food to some people near her and then the food is distributed to everyone through a series of human chains that weave throughout the room. I have really enjoyed being part of one of those chains each week.
I made sure that I joined the prasad-giver line on the last two darshan days, and on Thursday I also signed up for a prasad passing shift. I am so grateful that I have realized that I need to increase the amount of time I spend near Amma. I plan to start doing more of the stage sevas next year.
The public darshan programs on Wednesday and Thursday were both in the temple. That has happened so many times on this trip. I love, love, love it. It not only brings back good memories from the past, but, for me, creates an increased sense of intimacy. My last darshan (hug) was wonderful. I felt like she held me forever. A wonderful ending for that part of my trip.
I have continued to use the canoe to cross the backwaters. It has been such a good gift to myself. I feel so peaceful as we glide across the water.
An unexpected ending
It was a good thing I had been getting ready to go all week because my last day had an ending that was far different from the one I had “planned.”
In one of my last posts, I mentioned that I was going to meet with someone review and ask questions about the Amrita Serve Garden photos. When I did that, I learned that I had not been at the correct garden, instead I had apparently stopped at a private farm where tapioca, bananas and coconuts were grown! When I described the route I had taken, he said if I had gone a little further on the second path, I would have seen it. I decided I would go there on my last day.
So Friday morning, I went to see the Amrita Serve garden. It is a demonstration garden that will be used to show Indian visitors ways they can raise food in small spaces. I saw avocados, sweet potatoes, tapioca, papayas and many other plants and trees. I took lots of photos.
Adjacent to that garden is a seed producing farm. I learned so much there and saw so many fascinating things. It is going to take me more time to put that experience into words. I took lots of photos there too.
Those two experiences took most of the morning. In the afternoon, I decided to go to a garden that is close to the ashram. I was stunned to see how much everything had grown during the last year. I could barely recognize the place. When the sevite who is in charge took me around, she showed me an area where they are not doing any watering. There are compost piles throughout and those piles produce enough water to sustain the water-less garden. She said the plants in that area grow slower than the others, but they remain green and healthy. I took pictures there as well.
I then walked back to the ashram, picked up my passport from the International Office and went to Saraswati garden to say goodbye to the staff. It was there that I discovered my phone was missing, and with it, all of the photos I had taken that day and the three preceding days. I was in shock. I had just used it. I retraced my steps to no avail; I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was like it had disappeared into thin air.
When Amma was at the beach that night, she talked about detachment as a process of being able to deal with anything that comes our way in the process of life. (That is my understanding of her words, not an exact translation.) I was certainly receiving a BIG lesson in detachment.
I probably had dropped it somewhere between the water-less garden and the ashram. That path wound through many different areas of the village. Before and after bhajans, I walked to all the places in the ashram where the phone could have been turned in, but no one had seen it.
It is probably safe to say that the phone is gone, although I haven’t accepted that as fact yet. I’m still hoping for a miracle. In addition to the lesson in detachment, my Fitbit showed I had walked 18,000 steps during the day.
Since the phone is missing, I won’t be able to share any pictures of the most recent gardens/farms I visited. That will have to wait until next year. When I write more about the seed saving garden I will see if I can find some online photos that show some of the interesting plants I saw.
It was 10 p.m. before I returned to my room to complete the packing and cleaning. Soon I was ready for my last night of sleep in Amritapuri.