Coughing, sneezing, nose running, head aching—my physical condition was a perfect reflection of my mental state. If ever there was a day designed for staying in bed with a cup of tea and a good book, this was it! But it wasn’t going to happen.
For months I had been working out the details of a group pilgrimage to India—the first one I’d arranged. This morning, final decisions had to be made and a price agreed upon. The arrangements, complicated enough in themselves, were made more confusing by the cross-cultural issues. I was working with good people in India; but concepts like “Now” or “Yes, definitely I will do it” meant something quite different there than they did in America.
I was sitting in front of my computer, doing the best I could with my anxious mind and uncooperative body, when the bell rang for noon meditation. (I work in the office of Ananda’s Meditation Retreat.)
It was hard to imagine sitting for meditation in my present condition, but an inner voice said, “Go to the temple.” So I staggered over there and plopped down on the floor without even a cushion, too tired to get one from the closet or move a chair from the stack against the wall.
I stayed in the back, thinking I might have to leave quickly if a fit of sneezing or coughing overcame me. Deep meditation seemed impossible, so I surrendered completely to feeling overwhelmed and terrible. “I’ll just sit here and watch the breath,” I thought. It was the best I could do.
All of a sudden I was lifted into a higher state. I don’t usually see anything notable when I meditate; but now with inner vision I saw the huge, white wings of an angel, which, in my vision, wrapped around me, lifted me up, and comforted me.
My nose stopped running. The headache went away. No hint of sneezing or coughing. I was in a state of absolute peace.
The word that came to me was Shechina. It is a Hebrew word for Divine Mother that I learned growing up Jewish. Later I looked up the meaning: “Indwelling Place.” That’s where I was, dwelling in the sacred arms of Mother Divine.
I don’t know how long I rested there. The meditation goes for thirty minutes, and when the end bell rang I heard it, and was conscious that people were leaving, but I stayed in the temple in the arms of Divine Mother for another twenty minutes or so. Gradually the experience went away; and there I was, sitting on the floor, nose running, head pounding again. But everything inside had changed. I couldn’t even remember what I had been so concerned about! Feeling the grace of Shechina, I knew all would be well.