By Wendy Haynes Connor
I’d like to share a few memories about Meher Baba’s Beloved Mehera. I’ve been thinking about her so much lately, particularly on May 20th, when hearts around the world paused to remember Mehera’s reunion with her Divine Beloved. These vignettes live in my memory as both small and big happenings – but all equally precious and each reflecting how she lived her life only to please Him.
As with so many of His lovers, Baba graced me with countless opportunities through the years to witness and experience Mehera’s incomparable love and service for Baba. I first met her when I was 11 years old at the East-West Gathering. She embraced me with such love and sweetness, I felt as if I were meeting a close family member I hadn’t met before. One morning, when I arrived at Guruprasad, Mehera immediately took me into the women’s quarters and, to my delight, proceeded to dress me in a sari – she took her time, carefully and slowly wrapping the sari around me, explaining each step of the process. Afterwards, she applied mascara to my eyelashes and a red dot to my forehead. I was thrilled not only because I had never worn a sari, but it was also my first experience with makeup. Then, unexpectedly, she nudged me out into the main hall to show Baba. When He saw me, Baba brought everything to a stop and beamed at me. He made the sign that He was pleased and that I looked beautiful. He then gestured for me to sit on the floor near Him and continued to draw people out – inquiring about their health, family and work. I realized in the years to follow, that this was my first personal experience of Mehera’s thoughtfulness and ineffably sweet love for her Beloved.
In time, I learned about the leading role Mehera played in this Avataric Advent. I learned she was the chosen counterpart to the God-Man – the highest example of discipleship, of how to please the Beloved. I remember her once telling me that she wanted to come back again so she could learn to love and serve Him more.
In later years, when I visited Meherazad as an adult, what struck me when I was with Mehera, was her total absorption in each task she performed, when she was choosing flowers to place on Baba’s bed and the photos around the house, in the meticulous way in which she took care of Baba’s belongings, in preparing her list of stories to share with all the Baba lovers who came to Meherazad – whatever the task – she gave it her full attention. I recall Margaret Craske saying that, in all her years of teaching, she had never seen anyone with the capacity for concentration like Mehera. For example, when Baba wanted Margaret to teach her how to swim, Mehera immediately turned the one-pointedness she had for Baba onto the task of learning how to swim. Her determination was absolute because she knew this was her Beloved’s wish.
One of the small happenings I remember was on a day when Mehera presented me with a gift to bring home to my mother, Jane. She went in search of something to put the package in and, after a while, returned to the porch with a plastic bag that had obviously been recycled but was the right size. Mehera placed it on a chair and began carefully smoothing out the wrinkles, taking her time. When she got it as smooth as possible, she placed the gift in the bag. Perhaps a small thing but to this day I can still see her bent over, frowning with concentration to take care of this task – doing her very best for Baba and, hence, Jane.
One of my most heartwarming memories of Mehera is when I introduced her to my bunny rabbit puppet, a hand puppet. He was a gift to me 40 years ago from my brother, Charles, and a close friend, Karyl Tych. I gave him the very original name of “Bunny.” I brought Bunny to India wanting the mandali to meet him, especially the women. I should probably stop here and explain that Bunny is my Velveteen Rabbit – hence the “he” and “him.” When Mehera first saw Bunny, her face lit up and right away she gave him the name, “Sweetie pie.” Then she asked Bunny if he knew how to say “Jai Baba.” It so happens Bunny is a silent puppet (without a mouth that opens and closes), thus, he only answers to yes and no questions so, he nodded “Yes,” put his paws together and proceeded to bow down quickly. Immediately Mehera said, “Oh, no, no, no, Bunny, you must go down slowly.” So she took Bunny’s paws in her hands, folded them together, and guided him down very slowly. Then, without thinking, Bunny came up quickly. Again Mehera reacted with, “Oh, no, no, no, Bunny – you must come up slowly.” Again, she used her hands to guide him. Then, Bunny did it by himself and apparently did it to perfection because Mehera was very proud and happy. This reflection of Mehera’s purity and childlike innocence in that encounter brings to mind what Mani spoke of in her introduction to the book, Mehera – that Baba kept all of them like children and “shaped that childlike quality of life which leads to true purity of heart, involving self-forgetfulness and self-sacrifice of the highest order. And so, just as Mehera is Baba’s Beloved, she is also His ‘child’ in the spiritual sense.”
When with Mehera, it seemed so clear that her only wish for anyone trying to live for Baba was that we love Him wholeheartedly. On one of our trips, Buz and I witnessed a particularly powerful moment on Mehera’s porch that expresses the heart of Mehera’s wish. The pilgrims were gathered on the verandah and it was “Time to depart” as Aloba would vigorously shout out. A young Persian man approached Mehera to ask for her advice. He was from Pune, new to Baba and this was his first time at Meherazad. He went to Mehera and said something very quietly, amidst the general noise of people gathering their things together and saying goodbye to the women. Mehera didn’t hear him – he spoke so softly. She asked him to speak up but still could not make out what he was saying. By this time, everyone’s attention was focused on the young man. Shyly, he said, “Do you have any advice for me?” Mehera said, “Advice? What do you mean advice?” a little puzzled by his question. Someone explained to her that he wanted some suggestions or words from her on how to follow Baba. She said, “Yes. Love Baba. He has come to bring His love. All these people are here – these young ones – because of His love. Be happy He loves you. You are very fortunate. Always remember – good thoughts, words and deeds. Love Him more and more, and ask for His help.” And then she repeated, “Love Him more and more and ask for His help.”