My husband felt especially threatened by what I was doing. He was one of ten children in a family that had been financially ruined by the Great Depression. He grew up on welfare and vowed that when he became a husband and father, he would always be able to provide for his family. He made good on his vow and cared not only for me and our children, but my extended family and his as well. A person with his background might easily have become miserly. Instead, he became compassionate and generous to others in need.
When I began to meditate, and became devoted to Paramhansa Yogananda as my guru, my husband felt I was shutting him out. Someone had become more important to me than he and the family we had created together. I tried every way I could to show him that loving God and Guru didn’t mean I loved our family less. Love is infinite, not finite as he thought it to be.
But in a sense, his intuition was correct. Much as I loved my family and was grateful to my husband for a lifetime of hard work and loving care, nothing was more important to me than my relationship with God and Guru.
He never got over what he saw as my betrayal of him. Not long after I got on the spiritual path, he was stricken with cancer.
Despite his disapproval, I was determined to carry on with my spiritual practices. I couldn’t let meditation interfere with my care for him and my family. That would have brought even more criticism down upon my head.
Early in the morning was the obvious time to meditate. My husband woke every day to an alarm set for 7:15 a.m. We slept in the same room and if I set an earlier alarm, it would wake him too, and that was obviously a bad idea.
One night I prayed urgently, “I have been a spiritual seeker all my life. Now that I have found this path and this practice, I must find a way to carry on with it. Please help me to wake up early.”
At 6:00 a.m. the next morning I was sound asleep when the lamp on my bedside table suddenly turned on, shining directly into my face. I woke immediately, turned off the light, and got up to meditate for a full hour. Then I slipped back into bed and was lying there quietly content when the alarm went off as usual at 7:15.
Every morning after that, whenever my husband and I slept in that room, the light went on at exactly 6:00 a.m.
Five years later my husband died, still adamantly opposed to my spiritual life. Many times in my meditation after he passed I tried to contact his soul. I would talk to him, explaining again in words I hoped he could now understand, why loving God made it possible for me to love him more, not less.
A few months after he died, I had a vivid, superconscious dream about him. Yogananda was also there, and when I tried to introduce my husband to my Guru, he looked sternly at Yogananda and said firmly, “Don’t say a word or there will be a fight!” Despite death and all my efforts to explain, he remained fixed in his point of view.
Silently, with great love, Yogananda looked deep into his eyes. My husband, too, simply stared back without saying a word. Then, to my astonishment and delight, my husband turned to me and melted into my arms. Finally, I felt, he understood.
The division between us dissolved. In this shared understanding of Yogananda’s love, I felt closer to my husband in death than I ever did when he was alive.
I feel that death itself was his last generous act to me. On some level I believe he chose to die to free me to follow my spiritual path. Even though my children still disapproved, after his passing I left South Dakota and came to live on the West Coast where I could be part of an Ananda community. That would have been impossible if my husband had still been alive.