25 June 2009
Darwin Shaw and Esfandiar Vesali
Zo Newell recently posted on Facebook this photo of Darwin and Esfandiar embracing at Dilruba on Meher Center, inspiring me to post this 2002 article about a meeting between these two great lions of Meher Baba's love. (Darwin passed away in 2005, Esfandiar in 2006.)
A Visit to Youpon Dunes
On Sunday, June 2, 2002, Esfandiar Vesali and Darwin Shaw, accompanied by a small group of Baba-lovers, visited Youpon Dunes, Elizabeth Patterson’s private residence south of Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, where Meher Baba had stayed for a month (beginning June 7, 1952) to recuperate from his automobile accident. Jonathan, my husband, was videotaping the visit, so I got to tag along and be one of the “flies on the wall.”
As we departed from Dilruba—the house that Kitty and Elizabeth once shared, which is now used for office work, for teas and other gatherings, and as a cabin for special guests (as it is this week for Esfandiar’s party)—it was very touching to observe Darwin and Esfandiar greeting each other with an embrace, two saintly men, somewhat fragile (Darwin is in his nineties, Esfandiar in his eighties) but both entirely blissful and radiant with Baba’s love.
Youpon Dunes, with its nicely furnished suites overlooking the ocean, today is a $5,000-a-week rental for tourists, and we had gotten permission for the visit, which took place amid the activities of the cleaning staff (among whom, someone told me, were a couple of relatives of Frank Eaton, the Center’s first caretaker). When we arrived, it was discovered that there was no longer an elevator, so Darwin and Esfandiar (who walks with difficulty using two canes) were helped up the stairs to sit for a bit in Baba’s room. Across the hall was the room where Mani and Mehera had stayed. (The men mandali had stayed in another house owned by the Pattersons, called Whileaway.)
Baba’s room was bright and cheerful, and Darwin sat and reminisced while Farshid translated his comments for Esfandiar. Darwin commented that the Baba vibes in the room were strong. He himself had not been in the house when Baba stayed there, but he had lived in it previously during the time when preparations were being made for Baba’s first visit to the Center. Those days were like a continuous meditation on Baba, he said, as they lived in anticipation of his coming.
Baba’s 1952 visit to the Center was originally supposed to be for a full year, but he ended up leaving for Ojai, California, after only two weeks. Someone asked Darwin if that wasn’t a great shock, after all the preparations they’d made for a year’s stay. He replied that they had become more resilient by then and went with the flow—whatever way Baba wanted to play it was all right with them: “There’s no vote in it!” Darwin added that he could never get over the fact that Baba even visited the West after the New Life and Great Seclusion. “I guess we needed it,” he concluded.
Baba had wanted Elizabeth to make sure she had her insurance papers before they began the drive, so they stopped at Youpon Dunes and he toured the rooms with great interest, perhaps because he knew to what use they would be put. Darwin described him as calm and poised, knowing full well what was ahead of him.
Darwin recalled the terrible blow to Mehera’s head in the accident, a wound that somehow grew back together. Farshid observed that the fact that Mani was uninjured must have been because Baba wanted her to be strong, to take care of Mehera.
It was a short and simple visit but in its own way momentous. A couple of times I stopped to try to let it sink in that the God-Man had actually stayed here. How incredible. There was something very special about this little pilgrimage, the mood both light-hearted and serious, with chanting of “Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai” upon arriving and leaving.