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PART I IN THE HOLLOW OF HIS HAND
In the winter of 1931, when I first heard the name "Shri Meher Baba", it sounded like gibberish. By December of that year it had become the most important name in the world. In the meantime, the unfoldment of life had become a series of miracles.
It was Richard Mayer who first spoke to me of Meher Baba. He had come to the North Node, the bookshop which is still remembered by many as a vital factor in the spiritual life of New York from 1923 to 1931, to secure a copy of my book of poems, "Songs to Celebrate the Sun," which had recently been published, and which he had seen at the home of a friend.
At his request, my wife had called me from our apartment above the shop in the Hotel La Salle, where I had been resting. I was at that time afflicted with a mysterious ailment, which had sapped all my physical energy, yet had left me organically perfect, as the doctor had reported.
It was really not mysterious to me. For eight years, life had been schooling me in faith, courage, self-control, patience, resourcefulness, while I struggled to keep a spiritual enterprise alive in the face of extreme material difficulties.
After the first six months, by which time all my capital had been tied up in slow-moving stock, The North Node seemed always to be on the verge of bankruptcy. That it continued for another eight years was a miracle. How it continued was a mystery, even to us. Always, at the last moment, just as we were about to be dispossessed, or our stock was about to be attached, the necessary funds would come, usually from a completely unexpected source. It was like living constantly and consciously only by the grace of God. We knew that we must be fulfilling some purpose -- otherwise the grace would not have continued to descend. Somehow we must have justified our existence, or, we would have ceased to exist.
That had suited me completely. It had made life a constant adventure -- a spiritual adventure -- in the most materialistic city of the most materialistic age in the history of the world.
Richard Mayer proved to be one of those intimates of the spirit to whom one needed no introduction. Almost immediately we found ourselves agreeing on the great necessity for meditation, particularly in our over-active, completely externalized western life. This led him to tell me of a retreat established in England by Meredith Starr, who had spent six months in India at the Ashram of Shri Meher Baba. Before departing, he left with me a letter from Meredith describing the life at the English retreat.
In the press of The North Node's problems, the letter lay unread for perhaps a week. Then, one night, Jean,* my wife, began to read it. First I heard chortling -- then the exclamation -- "Oh, you must listen to this!" And soon I was thrilled with an account of activities practically identical with those which we had carried on or planned to begin as adjuncts to our present activities at The North Node — thrilled with the discovery of new companionship in our quest for Reality and in our struggle to live a spiritual life in the midst of material confusion.
In returning the letter, I asked Richard Mayer to convey our respects to Meredith, and to tell him of our interest in his work at the retreat. I also enclosed, for transmission to Meredith, a copy of a card which we had sent to friends of The North Node that previous Christmas — a card embodying something which had come to me in meditation: "Blessed are those who can rest from speech to dwell in a holy silence. Blessed are those who can rise from thought to the fullness of pure knowing. Blessed are those, who, detached from deeds, can rest in their own true being."
*She later took the name Jean Adriel from numerology . Told by Filis Frederick.
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