Swami Kriyananda’s children’s songs touch that deep inner place—in adults just as much as in children—where the untrammeled soul longs simply to live in God, where our essential response to life is gratitude to the Giver of all, where sharing what we have with others and with God flows as naturally as breathing:
Thank You, God, for the smile of Your love.
Thank You, God, for our gladness.
Thank You, God, for the stars above.
Thank You, God, for Your love.
Lord Emsworth, P. G. Wodehouse’s absentminded, kindhearted British peer, endlessly badgered by his class-conscious sisters to dress in stiff, formal attire and act the part of an Earl of the Realm, one day encounters a young girl, her speech immediately identifying her as from a lower social order and so anathema to the imperious sisters. The girl has just returned from Lord Emsworth’s estate, freshly picked “flarze” (as she calls them) in hand, and the outraged imprecation of Emsworth’s curmudgeonly Scottish gardener still ringing in her ears.
The comic irony is that this young girl has an innate grace, dignity, and sense of gratitude that shows her to be the true aristocrat. Her simplest statements invariably contain the words, “thank you.” With no ulterior motive, she expresses an attitude of humble thankfulness to the beleaguered Emsworth, wins his heart, and inspires in him the courage to stand up to the sisters, and even to the irate Scottish gardener, in defense of his newfound little friend. Standing tall, in touch with his own true strength and generosity, Emsworth welcomes the child to the wonders of this estate, where he gives her carte blanche to pick flowers to her heart’s content.
An elderly Chinese woman, deeply grieving her late husband, set out to scatter his ashes in a place he loved—Obstruction Point, in Washington’s Olympic National Park. Ashes scattered, she realized she was hopelessly lost. No one knew her whereabouts, or even that she had undertaken such a journey. During the next six days and nights, she did practical things to survive—built a shelter, found water and edible wild foods—but her main energy went to a deepening appreciation for her family, who had brought her to America as a child, and for her friends. Above all, she “felt grateful for everything in her life.”
By the time rescue came, her expanding inner feeling of gratitude had led her to a profound sense of acceptance and inner peace, to freedom from the grief that had gnawed at her heart, and to a readiness to take the next step in what she now saw as the great adventure of her life.
A fifty-foot-long, fifty-ton humpback whale became entangled in crab lines, the lines wound around the full length of her body, tail, flippers, and mouth, the cord cutting so deeply into the flesh that the great beast could barely hold herself at the ocean surface long enough to breathe. Four divers went in to cut the whale free. During the next hour, her enormous, beautiful eye watching the men work, the whale remained perfectly still and peaceful, as if understanding their benevolent intent. Once cut free, the whale sank quietly out of sight below.
Then, gradually audible from below came a humming sound, growing louder and louder until the vast, dark shape of the whale came rushing upward. In a wild and joyful dance, she swam in a great circle around the four divers. Once again she disappeared, then reappeared suddenly, now heading straight toward the lead diver, then each of the others—and finally disappeared into the deep.
“A Festival of Light” tells the eternal story of the devotee’s journey, through many lives, to final freedom in God. We listen and participate reverently, for the story told is our own, and we recognize what has gone before and what still lies ahead. We are invited to come forward to receive the touch of light from the Masters: “As you approach, offer a prayer of gratitude to the Infinite Christ, in whose love our line of masters have descended that we might all come to God. Pray, too, for the grace to share with all as you have received. For you are a part of all that is.
For it is in gratefulness to God that the devotee’s heart opens, softens, and is ready to receive the Divine Mercy: ever loving, ever watching, ever ready to infuse grace into the awakened soul and lead it to freedom.
In divine friendship,