from Shanti Rubenstone

I always assumed I would have children, probably four, the same as the family I grew up in. My first marriage ended quickly in divorce, and my second marriage didn’t start until my late twenties. My new husband was ambivalent about becoming a father.

Then I went to medical school, and suddenly I was thirty-nine. For the next twelve months every morning started with a discussion between my husband and me about whether we would try to get pregnant.

We were deeply devoted to an Indian guru called Sant Keshavadas, but we never talked to him about the question of becoming parents. I am not sure why. Perhaps I didn’t want to have his word on the subject, in case it contradicted mine.

“Guruji,” as we called him, was coming from India to Florida. We lived in California but flew to Florida to meet him. Afterwards I was going to Boston to visit old friends and to meet their newborn son, Daniel. They had asked me to be his godmother.

I was extremely anxious about seeing the baby, fearing that my jealousy would mar the otherwise joyous occasion.

When it was time for me to leave, Guruji sent word, “Before you go, come and see me.” Alone with me in his room he said, “You are going to Boston to see the child.” I hadn’t mentioned it to him, but somehow he knew. Then he took my face in his hands, came very close to me, and looked right into my eyes. “When they ask you, say, ‘God is my child. Guru is my child.’”

In that moment, the desire to have a baby of my own evaporated and never returned. Later, holding my godson was pure joy, without a trace of longing or envy.

It took more time for me to understand the meaning of what Guruji had said to me. Gradually I came to see that what I thought was the desire to have a baby was really the desire to serve wholeheartedly, in the way a mother does.

Since then God has given me endless opportunities to “mother” Him in friends, relatives, patients in my medical practice, and many other people’s children.