When Guru Maharaj Ji told all the premies at the Holi Festival to go home and prepare for the next one, it meant something special for the Montreal premies. There were no charters to arrange, no days out of work to negotiate and no huge fundraising needed.
Yet he had said to prepare and soon it became apparent what that meant in Montreal.
With great expectations of lots of activity and service, premies came to satsang every night to find out day after day that no hall had been found and until one was, everything was pretty well on hold. With lots of energy in town, lots of expectation, lots of time, and no immediate service, it was apparent that another type of preparation was needed: satsang and meditation and satsang and meditation and satsang … "If we don't remember why we are doing it and who we are doing it for, we shouldn't even do it."
Three weeks after Holi and still no hall, still no housing, still no idea of exactly how many were coming and still very little service … but more satsang than ever and more meditation than ever. At one point Maharaj Ji's staff in Europe phones and suggests that perhaps Montreal is the wrong place. Alternatives are suggested.
"Not so," comes the word from Maharaj Ji. And not only "not so." He has invited all the European premies and wants Montreal to prepare for ten thousand or more.
With that encouragement (still no hall), hotels are booked, charters confirmed, and advance registration undertaken. If he says it will be in Montreal, it will be in Montreal.
Then, just a couple of weeks before the actual program dates, the impossible becomes possible and the Montreal Forum becomes available. And not only available, but available for four days. (For any non-appreciators, getting the Montreal Forum Hockey Arena for four days in the midst of Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the realm of renting the White House for a community retreat the week of the Presidential Inauguration!)
What had happened was that Guru Maharaj Ji had provided three weeks for us to get strong inside and to release any frustrations that came as a result of mistakenly thinking that we had anything to do with anything coming together. When the storm of service actually did arrive (and it surely did), most premies had pretty well secured all the loose ends to the deck of the ship and were ready and willing to let the Captain do the sailing. With that kind of seaworthiness, a storm can actually become a way to travel fast and far rather than to be blown apart.
For premies doing service to their Lord, and coming closer to his Love by doing it, and learning what humility and patience are, words can't express the experience and never will. But there were those moments …
The carpentry crew worked day and night to build the stage that Maharaj Ji had inspired. One carpenter after another would arrive from somewhere just in time with just the right skill or tool, as the stage flowed from the bottom up. To keep going properly, lots of "satsang breaks" were scheduled and it wasn't strange at all to see Initiator Anne Johnston perched up on the scaffolding at midnight, telling darshan stories and smiling.
There was Nancy and her childcare team who worked for weeks, wanting to provide the best possible for Maharaj Ji's devotees and their kids. Finally, on program day, they had everything from a padded diaper bar to closed-circuit color televisions.
There was Joe Anctil and his all night international phone service: "Hello, there are 178 of us coming from France. We don't know how or when or if we will have any money, but we're coming." Or: "Jai Satchitanand! There are eight of us from Finland at the airport. Can you get us a ride and a place to stay?"
The community housing filled up two weeks early. The Sheraton Mt. Royal Hotel DLM office/ bedroom was now called Grand Central Station. The stage kept growing. Guru Maharaj Ji kept inviting premies to come. Initiators kept arriving and the money kept flowing .
Meanwhile, satsang was the focus still. Meditation was filling the gaps. And everyone kept reminding everyone else of who it was happening for and of the fact that he would soon be with us, and, once again, everything in our lives would be focused on Guru Maharaj Ji's Love.
It's the morning of …
Friday, April 29, 1977
Guru Maharaj Ji is at the Residence, rested and ready to go. Food lines are getting set up in the Forum. Security staff are having satsang. Over 8500 premies are in town and flowing out of the subway exits and into the streets on foot. Meditation is in the air and by the time Bill Patterson walks out on the stage in his tuxedo and smiles … it feels like we have been together forever and that we all are one.
And then Guru Maharaj Ji walks out on to the stage and we are One.
Divine Times, July 1977 3