July Newsletter 2019

( MSC Archive Photo )

"It is natural that at times you feel 100% miserable. Be sure that I know everything. When everything goes wrong, the mind becomes helpless and has to rely on the heart. These are the moments when you resign to my will and rely solely on my help. When you leave all to Me, I dare not neglect you, and you get relief from your predicament. I am the Ocean of Love and Compassion."
(Family Letters, p. 176.)

Meher Baba

Dear Meher Center Family and Friends,

Greetings from your Meher Center family. We hope you had a lovely and restful Silence Day, in the silent company of the Beloved of our hearts. I am once again writing to fill you in on the happenings at Meher Center.

In late June, we hosted the 29 th annual Youth Sahavas at the Center. At this time every year, the retreat is transformed from its typically quiet and restful atmosphere into a high energy gathering of teenagers. The Youth Sahavas is a time set aside when young people can explore their inner lives at the Avatar’s home, free from clamor and distraction of their every-day world. The event is hosted mainly by young adults, who have given their time and their hearts to create a safe and inspiring event.

The theme this year, particularly apt in our turbulent times, was Baba’s quote: “Do your best. Then, don’t worry, be happy in My love. I will help you.”  As each year at the YS seems to have a prevailing feel to it, this year’s event felt particularly calm and serene. Especially touching was hearing stories from graduating seniors during the Barn program, who spoke about how meaningful this event has been in their lives – and how they want to return as workers.

Please note below that there is a change in the date of the Volunteer Sahavas, and a ‘save the date’ announcement for the fall Young Adult Sahavas.

We look forward to seeing you at Meher Center one day soon.

In Meher Baba,
Buz Connor
For Meher Center board and staff 

Meher Baba visiting Meher Center beach
(Shaw family photo)
Volunteer Weekend planned for next year

In a previous newsletter, we mentioned that a "volunteer weekend" was being planned, originally scheduled for October of this year.  It has been postponed until next year, probably during the month of March 2020. This gathering is envisioned to provide an opportunity for pilgrims of all ages to come together to connect with one another, and to provide service to Meher Center in a Sahavas atmosphere of Baba's Love. Please keep an eye on future newsletters and the website, where the dates will be posted and more details provided. We look forward to you joining us!  
Welcoming the Kids
by Jamie Keehan
Meher Center staff and volunteers waited with bated breath for the kids to arrive. Every year for decades, dozens of African-American children from the Racepath community have come to visit the Meher Center, a legacy of our two communities’ long connections hearkening back to the time of Elizabeth and Jane.

This year, after significant planning and preparation, we adults stood at 11 a.m. in the Orchard parking lot and watched for the vans. We had all paused our usual activities for the day, and I had to keep checking my tendency to use this waiting time to dry a few dishes in the Lakeview kitchen, or sweep a porch somewhere. Something in me told me to pause, to wait, to make sure all my energy and attention and love were in readiness when the children arrived. 

Finally, we saw them—five vans winding their way down the dirt road and into the parking lot where we were standing. And then, suddenly, the air was full of children’s voices and laughter, and the parking lot was full of glittery sneakers, bright pink fanny packs, beautiful braids, and Batman t-shirts. Wide eyed, the 39 kids were ushered into a circle around Jeff Wolverton, who, like every year, gave them a smile of love and welcome. “Who knows what this place is?” he asked the kids, the first of a thousand questions that day. One little girl raised her hand and piped up, “I know! I know! The… Mary… Center?” Jeff recognized her efforts, then told them that it was the Meher Center, founded by Meher Baba, and that Meher Baba loved kids. We chatted a little more, including about all the giant spiders who Jeff assured the children were friendly. Then we started to wend our way toward the Reading Room.

I’ll admit that I’d had a little trepidation about how we’d welcome this big group of kids, some of whom didn’t even know where they were. But my concerns dissolved almost as soon as we started walking. I suddenly found two little girls’ hands in mine, one on each side, looking up into my eyes and excitedly asking me questions about spiders (and what their names might be); about trees; about snakes. They looked around them in such fascination that it made me look again: to see the treasure of the Center’s pristine woods, the quiet, the creatures that live here. It was so different than the world outside, and the kids’ everyday lives, and I saw them start to interface with that difference, to take it in. 

We stopped by the Boathouse, and dozens of children clustered curiously around the edge, looking down into the water, asking us questions. At one point, we saw a turtle’s head pop out of the water, and all the kids’ necks craned to see it. Then, the main attraction was a dragonfly: they shrieked and pointed at the thrill of such a creature. The walk over the bridge was a journey and an adventure, with kids excitedly pointing to fish they saw (or at least thought they might have seen). Jeff organized an impromptu footrace and some kind of tree-hugging competition as we rounded the corner by the Lantern, and the kids were all in, one hundred percent in. It reminded me of the games that Baba would play with children, that so deeply endeared Him to them. 

We finally made it to the Reading Room, and soon what looked like thousands of brightly-colored pairs of sneakers were lined and piled up outside. Once all the kids had leaped into their spots of choice, we played music together, including “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” a song that Baba loved. Many of the kids had new verses of the song they wanted to try—“he’s got MAMA and PAPPY in His Hands!” “he’s got MISS MISSY in His Hands!”— and we ended with EVERYBODY. We also talked about God— where we find God, and how He shows up in our lives. The kids raised their hands until it looked like they were about to burst. 

After the Reading Room, we ushered the kids down to the playground (I had three little girls holding my hands by that time, two of them also juggling black walnuts that they had collected for their families— not sure how the logistics of this worked out). At the playground awaited more amazing staff and volunteers who had prepared tasty lunches and lemonade. The kids ate and played and befriended the adults. One of the girls with whom I especially resonated was obsessed with saving bugs that looked like they might get crushed underfoot (this will make sense if you know me). We ended up spending a lot of time together. 

Finally, it was time to say goodbye. The kids re-boarded their vans, and we waved to them as they drove off into the woods, and back into their normal lives, to return next year. I could still hear the echoes of their laughter and play, and it felt like the playground missed them. But what I felt most was what an honor it was that Baba had trusted us to introduce His center to so many of His sweet, energetic, beloved children. I recalled our conversation back in the Reading Room, in between two songs, when some of the enthusiastic answers the kids gave to the question, “Where is God?” were “Right beside me!” and “In my heart!”. Of course, they were right. So what a privilege we staff and volunteers had, that day, of welcoming not only all these beloved children, but of welcoming Baba Himself.
How Silence Day began
by Preeti Hay

Meher Baba’s silence has been a subject of great fascination. It is a part of His life that evokes awe, whether it has to do with its elusive significance, or its much awaited breaking and how that would come about, or simply an admiration of the possibility of someone being able to live a life as full as He did in complete silence for 44 years.

So how did it all begin? Meher Baba was an established spiritual Master by 1925. 
Before then He had observed periods of silence occasionally. Baba’s silence was never a practice, a discipline or an ascetic means to an end. It had a higher, incomprehensible spiritual significance.

In early June of 1925, Baba intimated to the Mandali that He would begin a period of silence for one year. In late June, He gave July 10th of that year as the date for it to begin. On July 8th, Baba convened a meeting with His men Mandali and assigned everyone their duties during the upcoming period of silence. On July 9th, final decisions were made and Baba informed the parents of the children in the Hazarat Babajan school about His Silence. Baba’s general verbal advice to the Mandali was, “You have to live for others and use your bodies for the benefit of others.” 

The teacher Pandoba then pleaded with Baba that if he became silent, people would no longer have the opportunity of hearing what He had to declare, and the world would be deprived of His teachings. Meher Baba replied, “I have come not to teach, but to awaken!”

During the evening of July 9th, Meher Baba walked to the women’s quarters at the Post Office Building to convey his final instructions: “Now listen to my last words, because from tomorrow I will keep silence for one year. Attend to your duties with love and fulfill them with all your heart. Cook for the children at the school as if they were your own.”

“I have much work to do for the world. When my work is done, I shall speak.” Meher Baba left them at eight o’clock in the evening and, accompanied by Masaji, went to visit the men Mandali’s quarters. 

It is interesting to note that Baba’s last instructions to His Mandali were thorough orders on mundane matters. He instructed them to always carry a lantern in the dark for the snakes in Meherabad. And that very night Padri saw a cobra and the men Mandali killed it. Baba heard the commotion and came out to inquire. He was still talking. That way the Mandali had another chance to hear His beautiful voice. 

At five o’clock on the morning of July 10th, Baba came out of the Jhopdi. The Mandali did not know what to expect, would He still communicate with them or would he observe a stoic silence? But Baba made all his inquiries, he was completely himself: loving, caring and curious- but all in writing.

On January 1, 1927, Baba gave up all writing and started using an alphabet board to communicate. On October 7th, 1954, Baba gave up the alphabet board and continued to communicate with His unique sign language of gestures. Baba encouraged His followers to observe silence on that one day. "It's not anybody's silence, but it's My Silence; so it's best you also observe silence for a day," He said.

During his talks in Mandali hall, Eruch explained, “Thus He started giving us a gift – His sanction to participate in the day of His Silence.”