Familiar faces

30 May  Seattle — Washington, USA Yatra 2007

After touching down at Sea-Tac International Airport, Amma went to a devotees’ house located just to the north of Seattle. As has become customary, a number of devotees had gathered there to welcome Amma to the U.S for this, her 21st annual tour of the country. Amma quickly made her way to the centre of the devotees, inquiring about their well-being and all the latest developments in their lives.

A few weeks before Amma’s arrival, an American devotee who had been very close to Amma since meeting her during her first U.S. Tour in 1987 had passed away due to illness. The lack of his presence in the gathering was felt by everyone. After sitting on a chair in front of all the devotees, Amma asked everyone to take a moment of silence and to pray for his well-being. She also asked everyone present to think of all the devotees who could not be there, for whatever reason.

A meal had been prepared, and Amma soon began to pass out plates of food to everyone as prasad. As she did so, Amma’s gaze scanned the crowd, continuing to take in the faces of her children, many of whom she hadn’t seen for the better part of a year. At this point, a girl standing near Amma noticed that Amma was wearing a jade ring on her right hand. As it is not Amma’s habit to wear such jewelry, the girl asked Amma why she was wearing the ring. Amma said that during the final program in Japan, a devotee had given her the ring, and that due to the deep love with which she had given the ring, Amma had felt drawn to put it on and to continue to wear it for some time. Amma then said that, in fact, the face of the girl who’d given her the ring had reminded her of the wife of the devotee who’d recently passed away.

Amma explained that for her it is often like this. Wherever she goes, the faces of the people to whom she gives darshan remind her of the faces of other devotees—often ones living on the other side of the world. Faces in India remind of her of ones in America. Faces in Japan remind her ones in Australia. Faces in Europe, of those in India…. Voices too, Amma said; the way a certain person speaks often will make her think of someone else in a country far, far away. In this way, Amma said that she is always thinking about her children all around the world—even if they are not able to be physically with her.

Watching Amma gaze into the faces of her American children, one had to wonder what thoughts and memories were running through her mind. Which devoted souls was she recollecting? And from where? And were they thinking of Amma as well, seeing her in the people before them?