Today I am trying to relate some of my (spiritual) experiences with my grandmother. I´ll start by briefly talking about her early life, and quickly move to the spiritual moments which I was told or have witnessed.
Early life in a nutshell
Her name was Edenir Prochnow. She grew up in a farm and, by the age of 14, she wanted to marry my grandfather. His family told her that he was not a reliable person, but she was set, so they married and had 3 daughters. Sometime later he became alcoholic, left home and years later died in a far away city. My own mother was the eldest, around eighteen at the time. My grandmother brought up all three daughters by herself, with heaps of tough experiences for her and her daughters.
Grandma was always very religious in a human sense. She went to Christian church very regularly and gave the tithe her whole life. She used to read the Bible at night and then pray for her family’s welfare. However, more tangible spiritual inclinations per se were not vividly present during her whole life. She told me she had a very ordinary life, and her wishes were mostly eating some kinds of food and, when an opportunity arose, taking her four grandchildren (including me) to eat somewhere or get some gifts.
~75 years old: Rebirth
I was then 19 years old, and grandma was about 75. I had just become a disciple of Sri Chinmoy, which for me meant a rebirth. I could more clearly perceive what I wanted for my life, that I wanted to go beyond the ordinary day to day business and experiences, find more concrete fulfilment, feel devoted from within, break from my self-created prison-cell of futility and endless void, etc.
Grandma then got a serious case of diverticulitis, intestinal inflammation, and would have to be operated. She was not supposed to eat many kinds of things she used to love (she once said that she was a glutton her whole life), under risk of death. But even then she consciously risked her life by eating strictly forbidden items a few times.
However, something happened in the days after the operation. She felt that it was a miracle to be alive. That she had “been granted life by the Lord”. That she was not the same anymore.
Her behavior and general presence of mind changed drastically. She was no longer interested in food as before, not so much worried about the various family issues, etc. She was retired already, so she started to spend the whole morning following the TV-aired Christian programmes on the various religious channels. She would start at around 6 am and go on to the next, and the next, and the next, maybe until 9 am. Her usual phrases became things like “If it is the Lord´s Will” and so on. From a worried kind of mindset, she turned into a joyful person, childlike and spontaneous, and her smile became clearly very beautiful in a matter of a days.
So even though she had attended church her whole life, only now she felt like a real spiritual person, a real devotee of the Christ. As the Christ said, “born again, but not from the womb”.
One interesting fact is that she changed a few months after I too had changed. We found that some of our interests became very similar. I would go on a Sunday afternoon to her house to read from the Bible with her. Sometimes she would make selections during the week to read for me. She would be visibly moved by the things we read, and when I left her house, I remember clearly feeling that my faith in my spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy had increased, just by spending time in spiritual activities with my grandmother. I can still remember leaving her house on my bicycle, overwhelmed with spiritual fervor.
It happened, too, that in family gatherings like Christmas day, both me and her were not inclined to spend a long time on the dinner table, speaking of day to day subjects with everyone else. We would go to some other room to enjoy spiritual conversation. My mother was actively against spiritual talks, and would occasionally refer to us as “those two.”
One such experience
One of the most beautiful experiences that I remember I would like to write here. Grandma had a fairly small retirement pension, around 400 USD per month. Still, she never, ever, had skipped on giving the tithe to her church.
Because of a lifespan of health problems and experiences, she had to take quite a few remedies everyday, maybe some eight. And some of them were absolutely important, the kind that spending a day or two without them might force her to go to the hospital.
On a certain month, she figured she would not be able to buy her medicines and give the tithe at the same time. She did not tell this to anybody, but started praying to the Lord, and said, “You know why I cannot give Your tithe this month. During my whole life I have given it unfailingly, but this month I cannot buy the medicines I require to stay alive and give Your tithe at the same time. I hope You will understand why I won´t give this month.”
So she went to the church with the remainder of her money, with the intention of on the way back home buying her medicine.
But after the worship was over, she felt something unusual about not giving the tithe. She thought, “How silly! It is the Lord that keeps me alive, and not the medicine from the drug store. We are all living by His Grace. I only have to listen to Him and give Him my all and surrender, and He will provide me with His Plan.” She offered her tithe, putting it in the tithe box, and she was absolutely full of joy and fervour. She went back to her seat to pray and assimilate the experience. After a while, the church was becoming empty, and she thought, “Oh, now I don´t even have money to go back home.” She just stayed there, praying with gratitude.
Then, a young couple came to her, a couple whom she used to help and even provided for the husband to get a job years before. They asked, “Grandmother, do you need a ride home? We have a car today.” She humbly said, “Yes, I could use a ride.” She was already rejoicing with the feeling that the Lord knows everything and is really in charge of everything.
Once more, on the way home, the couple pulled the car into the parking lot of a drug store. They had to buy something to take home, so they also asked grandma if she needed anything from there. She told in minimal words that she needed such and such important medicine, but she had no money. They were happy to buy her everything she needed, and in good measure. She went home and cried the whole day, rejoicing to have witnessed the strength of her faith and surrender, as well as how really the Divine is in charge of everything that we look on. I cannot help but cry as I recollect this experience related to me.
She told me it a few days later. I was also very short on money, but I was given the privilege of giving her enough to attend to church for that month.
Grandma and Guru
As her faith in the Christ increased and found new depths, this only seemed to increase her faith and comprehension of other Masters. One incident I call tell.
Once, my mother secretly asked grandma to tell me to stop meditating, singing, traveling, etc, because “it was a bad thing, etc.” Grandma became really serious with my mother and told her, in an authoritative tone, “I do not know what he does (what meditation is), nor what kind of place he is attending (the Sri Chinmoy Centre). But one thing I do know. When I talk to him, when I look at his face and at his life, I can see that the Lord is guiding his steps. I can clearly see and feel that he is doing things according to the Will of the Lord, and that is infinitely more justification than anybody could require for anything. So you had better let him be, for you know nothing of what goes on the inside of a spiritual person.” She stepped and went away. Days later we met and she told me the story with such happiness.
Also, she became interested in Sri Chinmoy, who he was and what he taught. (Here is a picture of her watching pictures and listening to stories from my visit to Sri Chinmoy in New York.) She found many remarkable similarities in Sri Chinmoy’s teachings and that of the Christ, as well as some earlier books of the Bible. I remember she enjoyed reading some of Sri Chinmoy’s writings.
As a final note, I can only thank Guru, thank God and thank my grandmother for these experiences. There are many more, but I cannot recollect them at this time, and grandma passed away years ago. Now, really, only God knows. :D