Knots of Love: Transformation through Service By Maya Sahajwalla
For the final phase of the Knots of Love (May 2020) activity which involved stitching and packaging the flannel blankets along with the knitted baby hats, project leader Sai Sree Cherukuri requested that we host this activity at our residence on Ladies Day in November 2019. I happily and gratefully accepted this wonderful blessing from Baba.
On the afternoon of November 16, many Sai sisters arrived at our house armed with supplies. The activity had been planned for four hours but ended up taking eight hours. As the ladies settled down with their sewing machines, we realized that many of the machines had not been used in years and were not fully functional. Also, a couple of women had borrowed the sewing machines from their friends and didn’t really know how to use them. Sai Sree, who is adept at these things and could have possibly stitched 10 -15 blankets per hour, instead went around patiently and lovingly fixing the sewing machines and teaching some ladies how to use them. There was not a trace of annoyance on her face. It was as if Sai himself was moving amongst us, teaching us to sew love and patience into the fabric of our egoistic minds.
We had been asked to arrange for tea and refreshments. My husband patiently and enthusiastically kept making pots of fresh ginger tea every time someone requested it. We realized we were going to run into dinner time and had not planned for 17 people. My husband and I made khichdi like Shirdi Sai Baba used to make for His devotees. His key teaching of patience and faith was on our minds. That was the first time we made khichdi in that form with rice, lentils and all the raw vegetables we had in the fridge that day, but it turned out to be the most delicious that anyone in that group had ever eaten.
Following that day, I started thinking about the Food for Others service activity that I lead for our cluster. We buy supplies monthly and our cluster families pack a bag with food items to provide for six meals during the weekend for 40 elementary school children. I take great pride in researching and buying the most nutritious items. During the packing activity, I would get upset if items were not packed properly or left out of a bag, but Sai Sree’s patience on that Ladies day activity made me rethink my behavior. I realized that I needed to let go of the personal attachment to my service activities.
I cannot claim to be transformed overnight by the Knots of Love activity that I participated in, but I have recognized the need to further develop the quality of kshama. A broad term, it encompasses forgiveness, patience, tolerance, and forbearance. A student once asked Swami, “How do we know if we are making spiritual progress?” Swami gave a very simple answer, “If you are able to feel love for more people today then you did yesterday, then you are making progress.”
I am attempting to practice kshama in all aspects of my life, both personal and professional. I generally behave patiently with my staff and trainees at work, even if I feel displeasure with their mistakes. But now I am working on my inner self, cultivating forbearance and universal love. I can actually see the effect on my young trainees as they reflect that love back to me. I am forever grateful to Baba for giving me opportunities to participate in His service activities, as they allow me to see excellent qualities of character in others and to apply His teachings to my own path of self-transformation. Swami does not just want us to do seva. He taught me the importance of engaging in service activities with a loving and selfless attitude and infusing these qualities in my daily life. Jai Sai Ram.
Please note: A media article (click here) on the service project, Knots of Love, was published in May 2020.