“Master, come to me…”

Recently, these words from a song I first heard 30 years ago were running through my mind as I began to prepare for my morning meditation. As with many of us, it is always comforting to imagine myself in the presence of my Guru. I have a favorite image of Yogananda on my altar that I like to gaze upon frequently, and often I carry on conversations with him, whether through writing or prayer. Especially when I’m struggling with some aspect of life (and there always seems to be something to challenge me), calling upon his loving-kindness allows me to relax.

What happened this particular morning, however, was a bit different than expected. As I sang, “Master, come to me,” I clearly heard him reply, with loving authority, “Come to me!

Immediately, the image of myself as a toddler came to mind, and I reflected on this crucial stage of human development. As a baby moves from simply crawling to learning to take steps, at first she wobbles a lot, falls frequently, maybe even cries in frustration. Often her parent is cheering her on, holding arms outstretched, ready to receive her. It takes her repeated effort — fortified by concentration, determination, motivation, and encouragement — to achieve the sought-after goal—walking! Baby’s first steps: it’s a joyous occasion in families around the world. Then, soon enough, all that effort becomes second nature to the youngster, and walking becomes running, jumping, and all the other motions that define us as bipeds.

Like that toddler of long ago, I too am learning to take steps—just of a different sort. These steps are the ones toward Self-realization; yet the same qualities of concentration, determination, motivation, and encouragement are still key to my efforts. Our gurus promise that the more – and more intently — we practice, the more the steps will become second nature and the closer the goal will become. In the meantime, I look to Master’s symbolically open arms to catch me when I falter, pick me up when I fall, and embrace me when I succeed. He has never let me down.

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