"F9F-6P VC-61 OVER NAS MIRAMAR 1954" BY U.S. NAVY - U.S. NAVY NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION PH. NO. 1999.272.021 . LICENSED UNDER PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA WIKIMEDIA
Having transitioned from military duty to civilian student life, Joe still loved observing the jets taking off and landing from this base next door to downtown San Diego, the soon to be renamed Naval Air Station Miramar. At the campus he became close friends with Mark, who was the son of the base commander at Miramar. Four months into their first semester, Christmas break approaching, Mark approached Joe and asked: Do you want to fly in a jet up north? Holy crap, Joe responded, are you pulling my leg or serious - your father is taking a two-seater out for a spin? You're sure right on that, that's what my father will do come Sunday. He will do some hops this weekend to stay current and this Sunday is just a ferry flight to and from Moffett Field to pick up a new radio. Wanna go? He heard about your service when I bragged about your personality, don't take off just yet buddy, but he checked and found your clearance to be easily renewable as recent as you were an MP, so I'll tell him you're game and revert when all ok. We'll pick you up, I'll come along to the base.
Joe did take off, he almost soared jogging to meet Maura. You know what, he beamed as he approached her, I will get to fly a jet on Sunday! Are you kidding, said Maura, how come? Joe told her the story. Well, I can accept another invitation then, Jane and Paul invited the two of us to this spiritual teacher up in Escondido, his name is Paramahansa Yogananda. Heard about him? Yeah, raincheck for next time, my city architecture professor actually mentioned him as one teaching both Joe Doe as well as high flying politicians and business people. He sounds just amazing. He should be, said Maura, I'll tell Jane we'll be just three then. It is at 10 am to 2 pm only, so I'll be back here at 3, I'll pray for you and your safety, she said before handing him a warm loving hug and a quick public kiss.
Sunday arose and five minutes early, Mark and his father pulled up outside Joe's student dorm entry. Joe was ready as could be, smiling from ear to ear in giddy anticipation. He already felt a tingling feeling in all of his body, light and energetic as if he would help propel the jet airborne. An hour later, they were next in line for takeoff. A busy air base for the aircraft carrier ferry flights and makeover of jets, air and ground taxiing traffic was busy. The nearby civilian airport added to the busy air picture as well. Joe wandered how the air traffic controllers and pilots all handled it, but felt very reassured by Commander Stanford's easy manners and firm maneuvering. Soon they were up high and heading north. "We'll fly up higher than the airlines, then I'll let you fly some straight and level, if you wish? Sure want to, thank you Sir! Sure, I'll manoeuvre inland soon, so we can follow the mountain range west of Owens valley, including Mt Whitney which is the tallest peak in the continuous 48 states. We'll fly a wide circle to get to Moffett, so we can enjoy the mountains, then Mono Lake, I'll fly us low then, and out by Yosemite Valley and their majestic peaks and into the Bay Area for landing. We'll take another jet south, as this one will get new avionics, then flying down the coast at medium height. Sounds like a plan, private? Oh, yessir! We'll have lunch at the officer base, I got a waiver for you as a civilian. Thank you, Sir. My pleasure, for such a good friend of my first son.
After refuelling at Palmdale Air Force Base, they flew their mountain route in crisp and clear winter air, snow covers on all the taller peaks and some greenery even down in Death Valley. Mono Lake was awesome, although Joe knew the strange rock formations would be even more magical from the ground. Flying by Half Dome in Yosemite was just perfect in a fast jet, what a thrill!
Maura sat in between Jane and a stranger at the packed church at The Self-Realization compound in Escondido. They've had an hour-long guided meditation, recorded tapes of Yogananda, and Maura felt at peace in the meditation as if held by the space, the guiding and the people in it. Just now, the beloved teacher is being strolled in on a wheelchair, as the congregation arises. His body weakened, he turns to the audience as he has been maneuvered onto a small podium and radiates a glow and a joy Maura has never seen before. She is mesmerised as his mellow voice is heard, in perfect English welcoming all and beckoning us to sit. She had heard that he rarely taught anymore, focusing on his writings, but that for this traditional Pre-Christmas talk, he made an exemption. Behind him were several profile pictures of what looked like a row of other masters, Jesus included. She was new to seeing Jesus besides teachers of a totally different tradition, but with Paramahansa Yogananda now speaking, it all made sense. She truly felt in the company of a master and suddenly realised that Joe might not be able to see him, as frail and secluded Yogananda now was. He spoke with an eloquence and a power belying his physical health. "In the presence of Masters before us, we bow our souls to the sacredness of the teachings and the lineage we're in. Please close your eyes. Let's remain silent in their honor, for a few minutes." "You may open your eyes", he says after what seemed like a timeless span of time. Quite a contradiction of terms, Maura realised as she smiled warmly. Miraculously she feels like Yogananda is smiling back at just her.
I am Sanata.