Where is the True Sai Center?
For 15 years, the Sri Sathya Sai Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, was held in my home. The Center was my heart chakra, the vibrant hub from which I drew my energy, spiritual growth, and love. Our service projects brought me the highest joy, as did teaching the SSE children. Sri Sathya Sai Baba visited us often in spirit giving us miraculous loving reminders of His presence. But everything has its time and our Center eventually came to an end.
What do you do without the teamwork and synergy of a Center? You remember Swami’s quote, “You and I are One”. You start with small service projects, like helping a neighbor, donating blood, or making arts and crafts you can drop off at a nursing home. You serve individually, or by joining with an outside agency you can believe in. Sri Sathya Sai Baba will bring the service opportunities to you.
One day my husband (Recreation Manager and teacher - most of all an avid golfer) came home and joyfully announced that he was being considered for a new golf program called First Tee, which would incorporate nine Core Values of character building into the children’s golf lessons: Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, Courtesy, and Judgement.
He became certified through First Tee to coach schools and taught in the First Tee program for 10 years. I was his volunteer assistant coach until he became disabled and retired, and then I became a paid Assistant Coach to replace him. We have always believed this was Swami’s program, like a mainstream SSE class, and treated the children as our own grandchildren.
My husband always used to tell the kids, “In every other sport, you have a judge, a referee, an umpire, or an official to police your behavior, but in golf, you police yourself. So it’s imperative that you have good character and honesty; it’s how you behave when you think no one else is watching. You must count your strokes and tell on yourself if you make an error.”
The most satisfying moments were when parents said that playing golf brought their children focus, calmness and good behavior at home -- unlike football or karate classes which taught them violence or caused injury.
We’ve had some special needs children with Downs Syndrome or Autism who came to us to learn how to behave in a social environment. One boy who initially could not bear to be touched, smiled and beamed with pride during a group photo, as my husband put his arm around his shoulder while shaking his hand.
One of the children in the program had only one arm. We had everyone play Zoo Golf (imitating different animals). We used only one arm to putt, pretending to be elephants who had to putt using their trunks. Acting like bats, we putt blindfolded; acting as flamingos we stood on one leg. We all forgot the boy only had one arm, and with a few coaching tips on balance and swing, he won a putting competition.
It was our experience with the First Tee program, that by Swami’s unseen hand, He made golf better by removing its impurities: elitism, racism, and expense. He made us better people for having coached the children in core values, just as He had taught me stringently as an SSE teacher.
So, if you find yourself without a nearby Sai Center, don’t worry, be happy! Bloom where you are planted. Swami will show you the need, bring you the opportunity, and fulfill the desires of your heart, by making it your very own Sai Center.