Our little group of 6 made the pilgrimage to New York to receive darshan from Amma today. Last year went so smoothly that I didn't give it much thought as I planned the trip this year. Lucky for me that Amma's grace was on my side or else our little group of 6 would have had to make the trip home without a hug from Amma.
If you are going to take a pilgrimage anywhere I would highly recommend that you take a couple Italian moms with you. I arrive to pick up my mom and my zia for the trip and my mother promptly makes me take off my flip flops and hands me socks and sneakers - the first blessing of the day. She also insisted that we each take a sweater and an umbrella - blessing #2.
We arrive at the Manhattan Center and we soon receive our "tokens" I note that we are letter Q and I tuck them into my pocket. We have plenty of time, I thought. We eventually make our way downstairs to the dinning hall where blessing #3 takes place. The only thing my Tayler wanted was a bagel but when we arrive the bagels are gone. Never fear, Zia to the rescue, out of her bag comes..... Pizza. That's right, pizza. My daughter and her friend eat the pizza and enjoy blessing#3.
At around 1:30pm or so we head over to the line for darshan, only to find that our tokens are actually QZ!! I thought it was Q2. We soon learn that QZ means that we probably would not get to Amma before 4pm. Unfortunately, our bus home was leaving at 3:45. Here's blessing#4. One of Amma's devotees kindly listened to our dilemma. She directs us to someone one the other side of the room. Our little group of 6 makes our way through the crowd of people to plead our case to Gowish. Without a second thought he says - come back at 3pm.
Poor Tayler just wanted a bagel. "I'm not leaving Manhattan without a bagel!" The girls decide to go outside for a few minutes and WALA! Blessing#5 - They find a bagel. Now Tayler's belly is full and she's happy. At 3pm we once again make our way to Gowish. I'm not going to lie, At this point I was having a mental freak out because I did not want our little group of 6 to have to go home without receiving a hug from Amma and I didn't want our little group of 6 to miss the bus.
Gowish and another devotee went above and beyond to try to swap out our tickets with people already in line to receive darshan. What number blessing am I on? Oh Yeah....#6! One at a time, our little group of 6 received their individual blessings of kind and generous people who gave up their place in line so that total strangers could receive darshan and still make it to our bus in time.
I was last one of our group of 6 to receive Amma's darshan. By the time I was kneeling in front of her I felt that she already given me so many blessings. How could I ask for another? She then gave me more!!
This is the third year I have gone to see Amma. The last two times I didn't get to look at her face. All I wanted was to look directly into her face. I understand why but I still hated that I couldn't keep my glasses on. All I wanted was to see her face. To look into her eyes. Today, even without my glasses on I was able to look and see her face. Kneeling there in front of her I could see her so clearly. She hugged me and paused just long enough for me to see the love in her face. It was amazing! It wasn't until I stood up that I realized I didn't have my glasses on!! How could I have seen her so clearly without my glasses?? Blessing#7.
I collected our little group of 6 and we raced to the bus only to find that the bus stop was different than it was last year!! We race in the other direction and we find the stop with only minutes to spare. Even though the ride home was less than pleasant, we still made it home safe and sound.
Our little group of 6 all seemed to feel the energy of Amma's presence as strongly as I did. It seems to me that through the grace of Amma's blessings, the pilgrimage of this little group of 6 was perfect!!