Munich, Germany — 10 October 2006
Moving through the city of Munich one sees sculpted lions—stone, copper, iron—on almost every street corner. Munich is famous for its lions, as Berlin is famous for its bears. The lion, however, is special to devotees of the Divine Mother, as the goddess Durga is depicted as seated on a lion. So it seemed especially appropriate that Amma’s 2006 European Tour would begin here, as if the lions heralded her arrival, and later stood as a testament to her visit.
The program venue, the Zenith Center, was a renovated warehouse, once used for building train carriages, and more recently for various cultural programs and performances. It was a change from the Olympic Grounds where Amma’s program has been held in recent years, but Amma was at the Zenith Center once before, about seven years ago. In and of itself, it is something of a gloomy place—inside everything is black and green, concrete and steel, catwalks and columns. Driving in on the first day, one wondered if this was the right type of place for an Amma program. But the first signs of hope were already emerging as the local devotees/volunteers swarmed here and there carrying ladders, lights, saris, ribbons, flowers, and heart-shaped balloons. By the time their work was through—late on the night before Amma was to arrive—the old factory had been transformed into a temple of light and cheer. One had to hand it to the decorations team, and amidst those decorations was planted a seed for not one but several touching moments during the three days of programs there.
Between programs, Amma stayed in the hall itself. To reach the room where she was staying, she had to climb up two flights of stairs and walk down a catwalk that ran along the wall on one side of the hall. A long walk, it quickly became one more precious opportunity for Amma’s children to soak in her beauty. The aforementioned heart-shaped balloons had been tied in bundles at intervals along the entire length of the catwalk, and as Amma passed each one by she tugged on their strings in obvious appreciation of the great care and effort which the devotees had put into preparing for every aspect of Amma’s program. As Amma quite literally tugged on their heart-strings, the devotees could be heard to exclaim with wonder and delight amid the traditional applause and cheers which are a peculiar trademark of all of Amma’s programs on the European continent—as if she has just put on a fantastic show.
On Monday morning, after the Devi Bhava darshan had come to a close, Amma made her way through the throng of her Munich children one last time, only to find that the heart-shaped balloons which had decorated the catwalk were waiting for her near the car—each one clutched in the hand of a man, woman or child waiting for one last glimpse of their beloved mother.
Though Amma had been giving darshan continuously for more than 12 hours, she stopped outside the car, apparently delighted at the sight of the heart-shaped balloons. The balloons were filled with helium, and one devotee demonstrated to Amma that if one were to let it go, it would fly—not ten or twenty feet but far up into the sky, well above the treetops and the tallest buildings of Munich. At the sight of this phenomenon, Amma became like a little child, clapping her hands and shouting with playful delight.
She proceeded to take the helium-filled hearts from the devotees who stood around her and, one by one and then in groups of two, three, five and ten to let them fly up into the sky. For those standing around her, seeing the flock of hearts like birds sailing up into the sky was a wonderful sight, but far more wonderful was the sight of Amma’s response—Amma’s wholehearted involvement—in this spectacle. Amma says, “The childlike innocence deep within you is God.” For Amma, everything is new, and the wonder of God’s creation can be found even in small things.
Amma appeared completely caught up in the sight of the bright red hearts against the brilliant blue sky. Her neck bent backwards, she watched them for a long time.
As the devotees slowly dispersed, one last heart-shaped balloon, which had not quite had enough helium to float away, lay on the ground. On it was printed the words: “Moegen eure Herzen erbluehen.” German for: May your hearts blossom.