from Devadasi

I always planned to have a child. It was all worked out in my mind how I would raise her. (Usually it was a daughter I visualized.) Freedom was the key: no unnecessary rules or restrictions; freedom of action and self-expression; freedom from stifling, useless social custom. That was my daughter and the mom I would be.

I wasn’t going to do it on my own though, so I was always on the lookout for my baby’s father. A couple of times I got engaged, but nothing ever came of it. (Thank God!) Finally, when I was thirty-six, the perfect man came into my life. Although we met three thousand miles from where he was born, he had grown up in the town where many of my relatives live. They had known his family for years and thought well of the whole clan.

When he asked me out, I announced, “I am a package deal. I want marriage and a child, and if you are not up for that, there’s no pointing in our going out.” He was twenty-four years older than me and had already raised two sons. He wasn’t thinking about starting a new family; but if that’s what I wanted, he wanted it too.

A few years after we got married it was time to get pregnant. As it happened, we had just started taking a yoga and meditation class together. It seemed incidental at the time, but it turned out to be the way of life we have followed ever since.

As part of the meditation, the group leader suggested an exercise. “Hold up to the Divine Light,” she said, “whatever question you might have. Then, still your heart and listen for the answer.”

“I want to have a child,” I said, certain that Whoever was there to receive my question would send back an enthusiastic “Yes!” Instead, however, I immediately heard a loud voice inside my mind saying, “What you are holding up to the Divine is not the divine plan.”

This answer was an unequivocal “No.” Through the years many of my prayers have been answered, but none in so tangible a way. As far as I can remember, I had never given up a desire without fulfilling it. But to my astonishment, at this sudden dismissal of my lifelong plan, I felt no sadness, regret, or rebellion.

“Of course,” I thought, “if I were destined to have a child I would have married one of those young men years ago. Now I’m nearly forty and my husband is over sixty. What could I have been thinking?”

The sheer egocentricity of my former wish overwhelmed me. It was all about doing a perfect job of raising a child, so that I could say I had done it. Oops. Not the person I aspired to be; at least, not anymore.

So I let it go. Just like that.

From that point my life with my husband began to flower, leading us step by step to a life at Ananda Village more fulfilling than any I could have imagined for myself, or we could have imagined together.

And the daughter came too: not my own, but the child of a neighbor—my perfect karmic offspring. Her mother is happy to embrace with gratitude the truth that “It takes a village to raise a child.”