She was a poor cleaning woman working in a hospital in Chennai, India, where a friend of ours also worked as a doctor. There was something about her that awakened compassion in our friend’s heart, and a desire to help. Perhaps it was because the lady seemed so alone in the world and had a small child to raise; whatever the reasons, our friend felt strongly that she should aid her.
And so she would often bring to the hospital clothes or extra food for the woman, and tried in whatever ways she could to offer her assistance. From time to time our friend would also invite her to her home for tea, but, probably on account of the social distance between them, the woman always humbly declined.
Five years had passed in this way, when finally the woman accepted the invitation to join our friends — the doctor and her husband — for tea. As she entered their home, she saw a large photo of Paramhansa Yogananda, which hung in their living room, and burst into tears.
“Do you know who this is?” they gently asked her. Quietly nodding her head, she finally replied, “Five years ago my husband died. The day before his passing, he gave me a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, and said, ‘Now he will take care of you.’ I have not read the book, but have kept it with me.”
And so it was that Yoganandaji did take care of her through the agency of our friends. Unbeknownst to them, they had been instruments of his grace which helped and supported her. What brought such divine grace into this poor woman’s life? Perhaps it was her deep, heartfelt prayers to God that drew it, and then manifested in our friends’ desire to help her.
Recently I read a beautiful statement from the great woman saint, Anandamayi Ma, about what it is that draws grace into our lives. She said that people are mistaken when they think that grace is something that happens only occasionally or randomly. Like the child who forgets his mother when absorbed in play, we, too, in our absorption in this world, forget that Divine Mother is always aware of our needs and tends to them when the time is right.
But when we are able to dwell in steady remembrance of God, then we become more keenly aware of the constant flow of divine grace. Ma used the analogy of a well, a bucket, and a rope. The water in the well is like God’s blessings, which are always freely available. The bucket can carry these blessings, but it is the rope of our constant remembrance that draws them to us.
Fortunately for us, God’s grace can come to us even when we forget Him. But it is so much sweeter and richer when we remember the source. Like the poor woman who clung to Yoganandaji for protection, may we draw to us the overflowing bucket of divine grace, using the rope we have woven from our constant thought of God.
With love and joy,