A few weeks before Celebrations, entering the gate of the tennis court
for Saturday afternoon meditation, I received a brightly coloured
flyer from Paree. It was an invitation to each local disciple to join
an all-local Celebrations performance, the first of its kind. Paree
made many heartfelt appeals to singers and non-singers alike to take
part, and was so sincerely earnest in her plea for our participation
that she inspired many to join in who might not have otherwise. Paree
told me later, "I was pretty driven. I tried not to let anyone escape!
When I approached Salil for the third time, just to make sure he
picked up his practice CD, he said, `You're amazing. You're kind of
like a pitbull!'" Paree wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not!
At the first rehearsal, Paree passed out an outline of music and text.
As we sat together in the sun on that cold day in March, I felt a very
special and sweet oneness with my spiritual brothers and sisters. As
we had been blessed to be in Guru's physical presence so often, my
focus was always forward, on him. Since his passing, I have had a
different opportunity to take more notice of my surroundings. Looking
around at the group of over ninety souls who gathered that afternoon I
felt such gratitude to be a part of this special family. I was happily
surprised and encouraged by the presence of so many of our brothers
and sisters, who came in a spirit of pure oneness and enthusiasm. As
we went through the selections of songs and texts that so closely
mirrored our collective experience over the past six months, there
were many tears, but also a powerful sense of oneness.
Paree talked about the selection of songs and text she chose for the
performance, saying, "I was actually a little apprehensive that it
might be too intense, or too sensitive a topic. I had to really keep
the faith that the inspiration came from Guru, and that we would all
benefit from it. In fact, the response I've received from many people
has been overwhelming. I'm surprised how much it seems to have moved
people. The scariest thing was trying to present the locals with a
performance that they would be proud of. I was a nervous wreck,
thinking that maybe I wouldn't come up with something worthy of their
Paree worked to make the performance an all-inclusive experience in
which each person was encouraged, valued and appreciated for their
participation. She explained in the cutest of ways that this was
a ploy to get Guru's attention. We basically never had to
function as a Centre until now. And Centres, well
perform together! I
thought, `Guru would never believe this. He'll definitely want to see
it for himself.' I guess it was my clever way of trying to get Guru to
come to the function that night!"
Paree also shared her thoughts about the final song that she chose for
the performance: "The song Your Victory will blossom in my life. My
world will have only the Dust of Your Feet became sort of a personal
mantra for me in these last six months. It gave me a prayerful focus.
But it also served as a reminder that our progress doesn't end here,
that our golden days with Guru are actually ahead of us, not behind
us. The rest of the performance grew from there the journey of the
seeker from a despairing `How can I go on?' to the conscious awareness
of the Master's inner presence, to the ultimate ideal of declaring the
In the runup to Celebrations we gathered each week, even twice a week,
in a very sweet shared spirit, to rehearse Paree's soulful
compilation. Personally, I never made it through a practice without
shedding a few tears, and probably I was not alone. But it was so
inspiring and healing to work together with such a spirit of oneness.
On the Friday night that we were scheduled to perform, we gathered
early at Aspiration Ground and ran through the performance a few
times. I'm sure everyone was a little concerned about how it would go.
We needn't have worried. Guru's grace descended in torrents, and our
performance went according to plan even better! To see everyone from
Ashrita to Vijaya standing together and offering our hearts as one to
our beloved Guru was an experience that I shall never forget. I shall
always cherish and be grateful for this opportunity. It was a powerful
moment in each of our lives and well, yes, I think Guru noticed us!
Mission accomplished Paree! I think she has her work cut out for her
all the Celebrations to come!
From: Inspiration Sun edition 3
New York Locals' Performance at April Celebrations by Prachar