A few weeks ago Jyotish and I led the Astral Ascension Ceremony for a dear friend, Judy Fox, who passed away recently. Judy was part of a small team, as were we, that Swami Kriyananda sent to Italy in the early 1980s to help start Ananda’s work there.

We landed in Northern Italy near Lake Como at a lovely summer villa that belonged to a friend and fellow disciple. Sound idyllic? Perhaps, but as the months passed and temperatures dropped, living in a summer house with little heat during the coldest winter in Europe in one hundred years was a huge challenge for all of us.

Moreover, living in a different culture from what we were accustomed to, knowing very few people on whom to call, and having none of our usual comforts all reinforced the feeling that we were “stranieri,” foreigners. As time passed, we felt more and more like “strangers in a strange land” (Exodus 2:22).

Swamiji knew all of us well, however, and felt that we had the strength and commitment not only to survive the challenges, but to grow spiritually in the process. And so it proved. We soon realized we had one of two choices: 1) to let our energy drop, and sink into loneliness and depression; or 2) to raise our energy level and deepen our faith in God’s guiding presence with us.

Together our small team consciously chose the second option: to keep our spirits uplifted and to look for ways to share Master’s great teachings with seekers in Europe. From these humble beginnings, Ananda now has a thriving international community outside of Assisi, Italy, as well as centers spreading throughout Europe.

Our friend Judy, who was there that first winter, had an especially joyful and ebullient nature, and helped us all to stay positive. At her Astral Ascension Ceremony, her partner of twenty-seven years, Ric, shared with us a beautiful story about her.

Judy met him shortly after returning to California from Italy, and told him about Master’s path and Ananda. Then (after knowing Ric for only ten days) she told him that he should visit Assisi, because: “The farther you are from home, the closer you are to God.”

With those simple words, Judy captured our whole experience of that difficult first winter. With nothing familiar from which to draw, we had to tune in to another form of comfort and sense of “home”: God’s presence.

This world—which alternates between seeming welcoming and familiar to seeming unloving and foreign—can never really be our home. Why? Because on the deepest level, it’s only an impermanent illusion. We are strangers in a strange land. Our true soul home can only be found by reuniting with God, from Whom we sprang lifetimes ago.

So remember, when you’re going through a difficult time outside of your comfort zone and the world seems inimical and unwelcoming, think of Judy’s mantra: “The farther you are from home, the closer you are to God.”

And at those other times when life is going all your way? Recall Judy’s mantra to mind just as forcefully then. Will you rest comfortably in all that’s familiar? Will you, in Yogananda’s immortal words, “bask in the familial warmth”? Or will you embrace self-expansion and as yet uncharted waters? This choice is always before us.

I’ll close with these stanzas from Swamiji’s beautiful song, “God’s Call Within,” which captures the essence of our soul’s search:

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness, of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love, your true home.

Friend, how long will you wander?
Friend, as long as you seek your home
In a land where all are strangers,
Love locks her door.

Turn, turn, turn within:
In silence of soul, in cave of love
Find My abode.

Listen! Listen!
Whispering within your soul:
Hints of laughter, hints of joy;
Sweet songs of sadness, of quenchless yearning
For the Light,
For My love, your true home.

Your fellow wanderer,

Nayaswami Devi

You might enjoy joining us for a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Swami Kriyananda’s moksha. Learn more. Devi shares more about the life of Swami Kriyananda and the example he lived for all of us in her commentary for this week, below.

Listen to Devi as she reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (9:21):


  1. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this beautiful blog. I recently listened to the Easter Satsang, where you touched upon this point, and now reading it on your blog serves as a great reminder :)

    Thank you for sharing Swamiji’s song. The Lyrics are lovely. I particularly enjoyed this stanza –
    Friend, how long will you wander?
    Friend, as long as you seek your home
    In a land where all are strangers,
    Love locks her door.


  2. Dear Davi, I find your words this morning very much encouraging, so nice and true. I think each of us on the spiritual way must pass this test sooner or later, earning strengths to keep going on the path back Home. Yoganandaji was there too or what else could he have felt in America, not his birthplace, when he arrived and had no friends … When one today sees his work – and I hope to visit Assisi one day to see yours too – one understands the value of accepting one’s mission having faith and trusting God. We’re never alone. Thanks again and have a beautiful WE!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful, insightful commentary today! I recently moved across the country to a different state with my daughter after the passing of my husband last year. I knew no one here at the time and had an old house to renovate. I have relied completely on Divine Mother to assist me and guide me, and She has surpassed my expectations by sending wonderful souls to help me in every way! I am blessed! Yes, more than ever I feel that HOME is not a physical place. My beloved husband has come to me many times since his passing and wants everyone to know that this world is a dream. He is now surrounded by God’s presence and has been with Master, so he is in Heaven indeed! Wherever we walk, we are already Home, if we remember to connect to God at all times. Divine Mother will bring Home to you!!

  4. Dear Devi, thank you very much for your posts, always on point.
    “Stranger in a strange land”.
    How right you friend Jodi was when she said that the farther you we are from home, the closer we are to God.”
    I have been the outsider many time since very young age, but never felt so much out of place than when I moved to the USA from Mexico.
    And then I understood than the only real home was in within myself, where God resides.
    I go to visit my family and feel an outsider, I am here and feel that I don’t belong, the older I get, the less places make a home to me but God does, my only true home.

    Many blessings to you both.

  5. Dear Devi,
    May Judy soar in Master’s blessings. “Knowing, Knower, Known, as One “.
    In gratitude for your voice and action,
    PS I’ll do a great Incan death spiral for Judy at five pm today . Our Scott’s valley sangha member Jason requested one after his transition . So with his wife and others present, we did the spiral and witnessed a thermocline of light. While here on our beautiful earth,
    I love the words to the song, “listen…”
    To the divine knowing

  6. Thank you for letting us know about Judy!

    I remember her well when we lived in the Atherton house (1982 to 1985). She lived in the changing rooms next to the pool. Then again we worked together at Mountain Song in the early 90s and she brought her great energy there. It seems too soon for her passing as it has for so many others. But eventually we will all go into the Light.

  7. Thank you, Devi! Judy was my chiropractor when I was up there, and she was, indeed, a delightful person. Blessings on her journey!


  8. Thank you dear soul. I will remember these words and their meaning when the choir sings this song this evening. I will hear and feel God, Divine Mother, Whispering Within my Soul. Namaste

  9. Dearest Deviji, thank you for your strength and wisdom, God’s joy within you. When we walk with God, then some who wander are not lost.

  10. So beautiful, Devi. Happy Moksha anniversary to you today 🌹

  11. Thank you for sharing.
    “The farther you from home, the closer you are to God” – I love that.


  12. Oh thank you for this email for Judy fox will be missed I loved her very much and was unaware of her passing. I really love her mantra. The further you are from home the closer you are to God. That gave me chills in my body. Thank you so much!

  13. mm

    Besides your blog being something to recall in times of change, (like now), I enjoy seeing all the great souls in the photo and attempting to recognize them all.

    Thank you for sharing Judy’s words: “The farther you are from home, the closer you are to God.” And thank you for including stanzas of Swamiji’s beautiful song too. Both are wonderful resources, like a Divine Mother ever-present.

    Blessings on this day of Swami’s Moksha!
    Love, shankari

  14. Thank you for such a wonderful article/letter! I was struck with the news of Judy Fox’s passing. I had no idea and I appreciated learning about this. I used her as a chiropractor, and was always taken in by her JOY and bubbly nature.

    How did she die, Devi? I’m glad she still had Ric. I remember her talking about him. And I’m so glad you had an Astral Ascension for her. Bless her dear sweet soul. Aummms…. Victoria.

  15. A moment of enlightenment as I read that, “The further we are from home, the closer we are to God.”
    Oh! Oh, that’s why I’ve been a wanderer all my life. Oh. <3 Elaine

  16. Dear Nayaswami Devi ji, Thank you for the beautiful blog and also for the group photograph.I could identify Jyotish ji and you in the middle row. Probably Dhyan ji is to Joyotish Ji’s right side and you on the left side.
    You have rightly said that when we are away from known environment, God’s presence could be felt under the state of deep meditation. We should always trust in God as human behaviour is not always trustworthy.
    This year is the 10th anniversary year of Swami Ji’s attaining moksha. Let us pray for His ever joyful soul. Aum Guru.

  17. O Mother Divine
    Only you know the Truth
    Thy child is seeking
    Bless me with That only Truth

    Thy lovingly Shy Child

  18. “The farther you are from home, the closer you are to God.”- Beautiful line, very touching and yet very true.

  19. Dearest Devi Ji, we are eternally grateful for all the tapasya beloved Swamiji did that made Ananda possible and bring Master into our lives. And to you all, early pioneers, we have and are learning to walk courageously amidst life’s lessons. Thank you Ji. Love the mantra of Judy and Swamiji’s song – its a favorite and very close to my heart. “In silence of soul, in cave of love – Find My abode.”

  20. Dear Devi ji
    What you shared in this blog is very true.I have experienced it.blissful.Thank you ji

  21. Thank you for sharing the words of inspiration. The conqueror of one’s self is the real winner , the spiritual strength and the choices you all made brought so much light in the world. Thanks for being with all of us in these times 🙏🌺🌺🌺🌟

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