Audarya: Surrendering to God’s Mercy
When we venture on spiritual retreats, we schlep our stress, jobs, endless to-do lists, and technological ties with us. It takes a while to lay all that stuff down, unless you’ve perfected the art of carefully stashing it at baggage claim for the return flight home. When we do manage to let it all go, our bodies, minds, and souls surrender to the quiet life focused on God.
Last Friday I was too anxious to write, and so I swept, mopped, and washed away my anxieties on the Audarya temple room floor. My self-imposed apprehension stemmed from my first-time author mantra of “my manuscript is due in less than two months!” The impending deadline had taken over my consciousness; I felt like nothing I’d written had any value. I was inept in portraying what William Zinsser’s calls “God’s best stories,” (Writing About Your Life)—stories of affirmation and love and hope –the root of what I imagine all interfaith relationships to be.
After cleaning the temple, I offered obeisances to the pair of large deities (Gaura-Nitai) on the Audarya altar. I prayed to Mahaprabhu, whom I presumed most merciful of the two, for acceptance of my service and strength to drop my worries at baggage claim. I prayed God’s mercy on Saffron Cross, that all the fretfulness fostered by my ego would be squelched so that I could focus on being an instrument of the message.
It turns out I mixed the deities up and actually prayed to Nityananda.When I told Fred, he inadvertently furthered my embarrassment when he relayed my blunder to one of the monks here. But the monk offered a gracious response: Nityananda is actually the more merciful of the deity pair; he extends Mahaprabhu’s mercy.
New interfaith lesson: there are no prayer mistakes. God still gets the message.
Since then, I’ve fretted less over the progressing Saffron Cross manuscript. Instead, I’ve spent time writing and editing peacefully. The afternoons here have been sprinkled with reading and talking with the devotees about their Gaudiya Vaishnav experiences of vegetarianism and deity worship.
It took me a while to lay down my real-world baggage. But when I surrendered to God’s mercy, the first-time author journey of Saffron Cross began to feel like an exciting spiritual quest once more.