Dhanurdhara Swami July 25th, 2016
A Sannyāsi* Walks onto a Train and Meets a Girl
I can’t remember the exact train or time, but I do remember the girl. It was about two months ago on a crowded train from DC to New York. I got on early to get a window seat and hopefully sit by myself. A few minutes before the train was about to leave, I saw a young girl in her early twenties with much effort dragging her suitcase down the aisle. She was visibly exhausted and stopped when she got to my seat. Some good Samaritans helped her put her luggage up and she plopped down in the seat next to me. Seeing her condition, I guessed she didn’t have enough energy to go further. Otherwise why would she choose to sit down next to a fellow in robes and tilak. As she slumped down into the chair she frantically searched for a snack from her bag. It was as if she needed to eat something just to get enough energy to survive her ordeal. I overheard her on the phone: “I made it Mom. I’m OK.” Well, there goes my privacy, I thought. I continued my work.
The train drove out of the station only about five minutes when she mustered up just enough energy to ask me if I was a monk. We talked and I heard her very sad story.
She was a successful, young, athletic and gifted college student, who even managed to maintain her devout Catholicism in school, when she was ravaged by a severe case of chronic Lyme disease. She almost died twice, but her devoted parents stood by her side and nursed her to life. After a long bout fighting the disease she finally had enough energy, barely, to go by train and visit her boyfriend in Albany, also a pious Catholic from New England who had the character and devotion to stay with her. I don’t remember the details, but she suffered hell, and still does. Only her faith in God carried her through her trials with even a glimmer of hope and purpose. I encouraged her faith, which she said not many people do, and offered a few words of wisdom from what I learned from my revered teacher. She was grateful and took my card. Yesterday I received a letter from her. I thought what she wrote would be meaningful reading for our Monday Morning Greeting audience.
This is Grace, from the Amtrak train, back in early May. I’m so sorry about the long delay in messaging. I have been meaning to write but keep getting distracted. (One of the many things I’m working on :).
I wanted to keep in touch and tell you how much our conversation meant to me. I think you were right when you said God sat us together for a reason. As I mentioned on the train, I have been very sick with Lyme disease for many years now. It has tested me in many ways, but this experience has made me stronger both mentally and spiritually. It was such a blessing to talk to someone else who had an understanding of something greater.
Many friends tell me they have no idea what to say to me, and many doctors similarly, tell me they don’t know what to do for me. I know God has all the answers and can heal me. Still, I have prayed so hard for God to let me meet someone “who knows more than I do.” I definitely feel that prayer was answered by sitting next to you. It was amazing how little we discussed the details of the illness, yet I felt so many of my questions were answered.
It felt like a holiday having a conversation that lacked “small talk” and as I like to call it, “interviewing dialogue.” You seemed aware of my stress and physical ailment without me needing to explain it. I cannot tell you how happy and understood that made me feel. This may sound really silly but I’m usually the “you” in conversations. Picking up on signs such as, stress, mood, state; all while listening to the person. Receiving that sort of attention and understanding back was a true blessing I will always cherish.
Since our train ride, I’ve been focusing more on getting off medications and healing naturally. It is difficult. It takes a lot of persistence and prayer but I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.
I’ve been finding a lot of answers through Ayurvedic medicine. It just kind of makes sense to me if you know what I mean. I love all the warming spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, turmeric, and others. I’ve been cooking more often and supplementing with many herbs and vitamins. I’ll often read about natural healing methods and great herbs later to find it’s often used in Ayurvedic healing. I’m just trusting in God that what I find is what I’m supposed to do.
Lastly, I wanted to ask a few questions. You mentioned meditating and prayer to me. At risk of sounding cliché or stereotyping does your meditation focus on breathing? Such as in yoga? Do you do yoga? I know there are different types. I’m finding my greatest struggle is the breathing. I’m having an incredibly hard time with it. I get tightness, headaches, stomach aches, etc. A lot of people talk about the breathing, but I haven’t found anything helpful yet. I’m not sure if you have any advice. However, if you have any input at all I’d to hear it. I feel my inability to truly breathe may be inhibiting my healing process.
Lastly, I wanted to tell you again how happy I am to have met you. You opened up my mind to many new ideas as well as confirmed many of my own beliefs. It was so good to talk about God with another person. Thank you so much for the prayers. I feel my body getting stronger and know that God is working.
Please do not take the delay in this email as a lack of interest. I’ve written and edited it so many times and finally told myself enough is enough. I would love to hear back from you whenever you’re free. I’ll definitely do my best to reply much, much sooner. I hope you are doing well and I’ll keep you in my prayers as well.
Thanks so much,
That’s about it. I am just happy that I can share with others what I learned in my studies and life and meet such good people as Grace. I also wanted to ask my audience to pray for her. Grace is a very sincere soul who wants God and wouldn’t mind good health to serve Him. Thanks for listening.
*A Hindu celibate monk.