Sat Nam Dear Family,
It was August 1988. Twenty or so members of the L.A. Sangat piled into many cars as we caravanned to Santa Barbara, CA. It was just a two hour drive up the coast, and a magnificent drive at that. It was going to be a fun outing; beautiful drive, sun, beach, golf, swimming, what’s not to look forward to? A doctor in our community was attending a convention in Santa Barbara and we came along. I’m not sure why but, the Siri Singh Sahib had some important reason in mind, but I didn’t bother to care as it would just interfere with the fun.
We all stayed at the Fess Parker Resort and Hotel which is located right on the beach. Fess Parker, I remember thinking, wasn’t he Daniel Boone in the T.V. series? He was. Well, that didn’t make me feel any better about the hotel. After all, I’d prefer a professional hotelier, not an actor from Texas with a degree in frontiersmen-ship. Anyway, it was what it was and I wasn’t going to let anything interfere with my enjoyment. I apologize to Mr. Parker. His hotel was very nice and much better than expected, a good start to the merriment. Thank you Mr. Parker.
The days were free and most went to the beach. I chose the adjoining golf course. I don’t remember with whom I played but there was usually another golfer in the group. Courses like these which overlook the Pacific Ocean are especially beautiful and extra fun to play. I was walking back to the hotel from the clubhouse when I noticed another gentleman walking beside me. He said, “How are you.” “Great,” I responded automatically, raising my eyes towards his in a mannerful mode. Oh, I thought to myself, it’s Billy Graham, the world’s most famous living Christian preacher, in fact, the spiritual advisor to the last five Presidents!
We talked for several minutes as we walked back. I acted at my best. He asked about who I was and was gracious in hearing my response. We talked about golf and how he “used to be” a 2 handicapper (that’s a very good golfer). We talked about why he was here and other nonsense. As we climbed the stairs to the lobby, we said pleasant and graceful goodbyes with blessings thrown in for good measure.
I went directly to the Master’s suite. “I’ve been waiting for you. Where have you been,” he queried. “I’ve been playing golf,” I answered. “Oh, that’s O.K., he said. He always encouraged good, clean fun, thank God. “The course was crowded and I teed off later than expected. Guess who I ran into on the way back from the course,” I said, “Billy Graham,” I concluded so as not to appear to be asking such a stupid question. “Oh, why didn’t you bring him here?” the Master requested. Another one liner from the Master which stopped me in my tracks. I was painfully embarrassed at my self-centeredness and ill manners. I must have looked stunned, yes, why didn’t I bring him over. I didn’t even think of it. I know how much he likes to meet with people of this stature. And here’s the worst part, all I could think about was myself, and, stupidly, I actually feel good about me.
I rushed out to retrieve Reverend Graham. It was too late. I had missed this opportunity to serve and please my Teacher and my consciousness.
I remember thinking, “Boy, I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ll keep up.” How lucky was I to have a teacher who would put up with such senselessness, especially from one on whom he depended. I promised myself to never do it again. And, I didn’t, of course, until the next blunder which I didn’t see coming. At least I didn’t repeat the same mistake.
That’s the process of teaching and learning. It’s both painful and joyful at the same time. Rather than be devastated by each painful wrong turn, I became joyful and grateful for the experience and awareness that life gets better with these positive changes. I learned to skip the painful part and go right to the joy as the process was going to continue whether or not I liked it. Why not! Nothing was going to change the past. If I’m going to do this, I may as find a way to enjoy it. Thankfully, I did and I do.
M.S.S. Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa
Chief of Protocol