She returned well enough to give some talks in New York before Baba came again in 1952 to America.
But in '52 her health required hospitalization and she was not there to introduce all those dear souls her work had drawn to Him. An interesting point about "health" and the Master: once when very ill a friend had had Norina's horoscope cast and the astrologer predicted her death at that time. But Baba told her that once a devotee surrenders their life to Him the horoscope does not apply. He said He had saved her life four times. (She had also been extremely ill when a child and at that time had had an inner vision of Jesus).
She had a unique place in His Circle as "the changing one." The best explanation of this phrase I could get is that if someone, so to speak, moves out of position in the Circle, Norina could take their place. But as with so many of Baba's cryptic statements, the mystery remains. Norina passed away in 1957, one year after Baba's second visit to the Center in Myrtle Beach. To the end she was fiercely loyal to Baba, through all her sufferings, physical and mental. Even in the darkest "night of the soul" her faith and obedience never wavered, and as such she remains a great example to us all.
P.S. Baba said if any one of His Circle died before He did, they would immediately have to take another physical body near Him. "Norina" now, as pointed out by Baba Himself, is a young boy in India, born to a Baba family. Thus, I have met this dear soul "twice" in one life, an amazing "postscript" to a remarkable vita.
P.P.S. Baba once told her, "When I break My Silence, even your eyes will 'pop'!"
II Margaret Craske
My special link to Margaret: Meher Baba's first letter to me (1947) was written in her hand.
I first met "Miss Craske," as her ballet pupils invariably call her, in the fall of 1946, when she arrived from London to take up her position as ballet mistress of Lucia Chase's Ballet Theatre. It was her first job on her return from seven years in India with Baba . . . years that had told on her health. She was not sure she could handle such a position, not only because of her health but because of her long absence from the professional world, her total immersion in the incredible discipline of following the Avatar on His home territory, as part of His intimate Circle. But Baba loves to throw you from one opposite of maya to the other, from absolute seclusion to great worldly activity, just as He alternated His seclusions with His whirlwind public darshan tours and work with the masses.
Margaret was born in Norfolk, England in 1892. Her father was owner of a small coastal fleet. She started studying dance at an early age; and was always very athletic. At 18 she took up ballet and progressed quickly. She studied with the famous Enrico Cecchetti in the private London studio he ran from 1918 to 1923, while he served as teacher for the Diaghilev Ballet Company. She says of Cecchetti, "He was already old when I met him . . . he was a darling . . . he would bend his head and look under his eyes at you as if you were a criminal. And he did occasionally give us a tap with the stick. That's not legal now. He was a very fine teacher. One loved him."
At the end of her study with him, the Maestro gave her a certificate indicating she was qualified to carry on his teaching tradition — a rare honor. Today her own book, The Theory and Practice of Allegro in Classical Ballet (1920), co-authored with critic Cyril Beaumont, is a classic reference on the famed Cecchetti method, and she is considered the world's leading authority.
She danced with the Diaghilev Ballet Company but her performing career ended abruptly with tuberculosis* of the Achilles tendon. Thus she took up her incredible career as a teacher. She founded her own ballet school in London in the Thirties. She is philosophical about the loss of a stage career: "I hurt a tendon. I couldn't dance for some time, and then I was getting older . . . so what!" she says now.
In one year she lost five people dear to her ― her parents, a teacher, a friend, a
*should be “trauma” - - see Corrections in Table of Contents” - webmaster, JK