from Jayadev

It was pitch black, two hours past midnight, on a deserted country road. A single man (me) was trying to hitch a ride. Not a car in sight. Conditions couldn’t have been worse. I lived out in the country where the young people all got around by hitchhiking. But now I was looking at a long, long, lonely walk home.

I was raised an atheist, and when I got old enough to think for myself I decided my parents were right. Never one to keep my opinions to myself, I was fiercely outspoken against God and religion.

Yoga, however, interested me. Even meditation. Somehow I practiced both without feeling any contradiction between that and my atheism. Eventually I found Autobiography of a Yogi, which soon became a favorite, even though Yogananda spoke a lot about God.

For a long time the atheist in me fought against Yogananda’s words, but slowly I began to open up to the world he described. It wasn’t easy.

Now, all by myself on that lonely road, I began to sing a song by Yogananda I had recently learned: O God Beautiful. Standing under the stars, singing from my heart to God, I hardly recognized myself!

I went on this way for about twenty minutes. Finally a car appeared, but it whizzed by without even slowing down. Then I noticed a distance up the road it had stopped. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Usually either a car stopped or it didn’t. I hurried up to it and looked in the window.

There was a woman alone. Another first: Single women never picked up single men. She looked frightened.

Nervously she asked, “Where are you going?” I told her the name of my village.

“I’m going in another direction,” she said, “but I’ll take you there.”

I got in. As we drove away, she said, “I have never picked up a hitchhiker. Not once. I am too afraid. But as I drove past you, I heard a voice say, ‘Stop! Take that boy where he is going.’ That is the only reason I picked you up.”

When I got in the car I still doubted God. By the time I arrived home, I was no longer an atheist.