from Peter Kretzmann
The big concert was on Saturday, and on Wednesday I lost my voice. I am part of a quartet that sings the music of Swami Kriyananda, and we had been months in planning and rehearsing for an interfaith “Unity through Music” event: an elegant dinner followed by a performance of our singing quartet. But it’s a little hard to do four-part harmony with only three voices.
I tried every possible treatment—gargling, inhaling, and consuming a wide variety of concoctions—hoping something would work.
By Friday I could manage a few of the lower notes, but I had the tonal quality of a duck. I couldn’t even rehearse with the group, yet the concert was twenty-four hours away. I knew Ananda friends around the world were praying for me. I wrote also to Swamiji and asked him to pray.
That night, before I went to bed, I opened at random Swamiji’s autobiography, The New Path. There, in the last chapter, I found the following story:
“Many years ago,” Swamiji wrote, “I felt that Divine Mother wanted me to return to India. I had been absent from there for ten years, but now I had enough money saved to go back and stay there for about two months.
“Shortly before my scheduled departure, I was driving my car into San Francisco when the engine threw a rod. I realized I’d have to trade in this car for a newer one. This need, however, placed me in a dilemma. The money for my trip was all the wealth I had. Should I trade in my car and buy a new one? Or should I keep my money for the trip Divine Mother wanted me to take? I’ve always tried to reconcile faith with common sense.
“Ananda Village [where Swamiji lived] is in the mountains, far from urban conveniences. A car is, for me, a virtual necessity. I wouldn’t be able to stay long in India. Without a vehicle, I’d be virtually ‘stranded’ upon my return. What should I do?
“I asked Divine Mother for guidance. I knew of no place in which to sit quietly and ‘tune in.’ All I could think of was to have a quiet lunch with a few friends in a downtown restaurant. No guidance came.
“Finally I said, ‘Divine Mother, You haven’t answered me; perhaps I haven’t been silent enough to hear You. Common sense tells me, however, that I must have a car when I return from India. I see no reasonable choice, therefore, but to buy one. If You still want me to take this journey, You’ll have to reimburse me!’
“I paid $1,100 for a good second-hand car. This money, along with $700 I received for my crippled vehicle, covered the cost. I left the car dealership on Friday evening. The next Monday morning, at home, I received a letter from someone unknown to me. Enclosed was a check— made out to me, personally—for a thousand dollars. The letter stated, ‘Please use this money as Divine Mother wants you to.’
“Now, please ask yourself: How many people in America pray to God as their Divine Mother? Hardly any! Every time I recall this episode, my eyes fill with tears. Many, many times in my life have I found Divine Mother’s loving assistance fulfilling my needs, answering my questions! In living for God, I have found the thrill of an unceasing, divine romance.”
Everything about Swamiji’s story thrilled me. He had been dealing with a new car and a trip to India, while my problem was laryngitis; but we intersected on one critical point: praying to Divine Mother. Swamiji had said to God, “If You still want me to take this journey, You’ll have to reimburse me!”
What sweetness! What non-attachment!
Like Swamiji, I prayed, “Divine Mother, if you want me to sing, You will have to heal me.” I continued with my gargling and inhaling, and everything else I could do, but now I put the results in Her hands.
Saturday morning showed slight improvement, but not nearly enough. Swamiji sent an email: “I am praying for you.” Many times in the lives of others I had seen the power of Swamiji’s prayers, but this was the first time I knew he was praying for me.
A few hours before the concert we had a sound check and a brief rehearsal, to see if the quartet would have to become a trio. I still sounded like a dying duck. Before giving up completely, we thought to try one verse of the song “Brothers.”
The tenor starts, then the bass (me) joins in. This gave me another few seconds to pray again, “If You want me to sing, You are going to have to heal me.” When it was time for me to join in, no more duck-like tones! My voice was almost normal.
The concert went beautifully in four-part harmony. Sometimes, though, it was hard for me to sing—not as a result of the laryngitis, but because of the waves of blessing I felt pouring over me. I’d known this music could heal my consciousness. Now I knew it could heal my body as well.