|DECEMBER 1934 – MEHER BABA WAS THE RETURNED CHRIST.
Despite Baba’s cancellation of private interviews, Darwin and Jeanne Shaw, a young couple from Schenectady, New York, were very anxious to meet Baba. For many years, Darwin had been a genuine seeker and student of religion, philosophy and mysticism, searching for the answers to the mystery of life. Both he and Jeanne felt close to Jesus Christ. Darwin had strong feelings that the Second Coming of Christ would take place very soon. In the spring of 1932, he became keenly interested when he read in the local newspaper that Shri Meher Baba was coming to America and was considered by his disciples to be a great spiritual personage. Intuitively, Darwin felt that Baba might be the One he was expecting. Another newspaper article during 1932 announced that Meher Baba had arrived in America and would be staying at a retreat near Harmon, New York, for about ten days.
By this time, Darwin had come to feel that Meher Baba was the Returned Christ. He had reached out to Baba inwardly and he felt that Baba actually responded by visiting him in spirit. His feelings about Baba were so strong that he felt like leaving his job and going right away in search of Baba. However, he allowed his feelings to be overruled by his rational thinking. He thought that, since Baba would be there for ten days, he could wait a few days until he would have the Memorial Day holiday off from work.
So, on the Memorial Day weekend, Darwin and another young fellow named Donald Holloway drove to Harmon, about one hundred and sixty miles away. They soon found the retreat, only to learn that Baba had finished his work there early and gone on to California. This was a deep disappointment. However, the feeling there of Meher Baba’s “loving presence” was still very evident. They were welcomed by a few of Baba’s followers who were still there, namely Josephine Grabau, Mary Antin, Milo Shattuck, Anita de Caro, Howard Inches and Grace Mann. Josephine asked Darwin if he would like to write to Baba. He did, pouring out his heart in a letter, offering his life in Baba’s service. Darwin immediately mailed it and returned to the retreat for dinner. Halfway through the meal, he began to feel Baba replying to the letter. Darwin felt a “welling through the heart with unmistakable love … answering everything in my letter,” and tears began falling from his eyes. Although he deeply regretted missing Baba, Darwin was happy that he had found Baba’s followers and longed for the day when he could meet the Master in the flesh.
In 1934, therefore, it was truly a joyous occasion when Darwin and Jeanne Shaw received a telegram from Norina Matchabelli saying that Meher Baba was on his way to New York City and she had made an appointment for them to meet the Master at his hotel on December 12th. Darwin made all the necessary preparations to take advantage of this opportunity and eagerly awaited the day of Baba’s arrival.
Darwin and Jeanne awoke at four in the morning on December 12th, (1934) and prepared to drive the one hundred and seventy miles to Manhattan. But when they opened their door, they found a telegram hanging on the doorknob which read: “Your appointment has been canceled. You may see Baba at a reception on Thursday the 13th.” Shocked, they stared at each other. Then Darwin tore up the telegram and they decided to go on to New York anyway taking the chance they might catch a glimpse of Meher Baba in the hotel lobby.
They arrived at the Shelton Hotel a short time before Baba was to arrive. Norina walked in, saw them and asked, “My dears. What are you doing here? Didn’t you get my cable?”
“Yes,” they replied, “but we haven’t come for an interview. We are here in the hopes we might catch a glimpse of Baba as he passes by.”
Norina said, “Baba is in the taxi following the one I came in. He’ll be here any moment. Maybe he’ll see you for just a minute when he comes.” Just then Baba walked in. The winter weather was very cold outside and he was dressed in a long overcoat and a hat with his long hair tucked under it. Norina walked quickly over to Baba to explain the situation. Baba looked over at his two longing souls and nodded in agreement. He strode over to them with Norina. Darwin described this momentous first meeting with their long-awaited Beloved:
I could not begin to tell you how we felt when Baba looked into our eyes, when he clasped our hands. I felt that his handclasp might have reached down through many centuries and many lifetimes. The first result of the impact of his love was a great sense of spiritual upliftment, joy and happiness. There are probably other superlatives I could use, but none of them would be adequate to describe how we felt.
This was our first glimpse into those infinite pools of divine love that were his eyes. I was overjoyed. His beauty, the sweetness of his love which could not be expressed in words the joy, the sparkling wonder of his being. One could not prefigure him. One could not imagine how it would be, what he would be like. He was more than one could imagine much more, immeasurably more.
When they departed, Baba and Norina walked toward the elevator and Darwin and Jeanne moved toward some chairs in the lobby. Jeanne was irresistibly impelled to turn in order to get another glimpse of Baba. To her surprise, just as she turned, Baba also turned and looked directly at her. He folded his hands and bowed slightly to her. Jeanne turned quickly away, feeling that she had been caught trying to sneak a look at Baba. But she could not resist turning twice more to look and, each time, Baba also turned, folded his hands and bowed to her. As a result of these rather furtive exchanges with Baba responding to her as he did, Jeanne realized that the Master knew her innermost thoughts.
Lord Meher, Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 6, pp. 1926 – 1929.
(Readers may like to refer to ‘As Only God Can Love – a lifetime of Companionship with Meher Baba’ by Darwin C. Shaw published by Sheriar Foundation, 2003.)
The Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust, Ahmednagar,