Winnie Barrett

Winnie at Sheriar Bookshop
Winnie at Sheriar Bookshop

Winnie first heard Meher Baba's name in 1966 while part of the underground scene in Chapel Hill, NC, a counterculture of artists, writers, political activists and drug users. She longed for a higher reality and this search led her to Meher Baba in 1967. She felt great love for him from the beginning, and the love she felt from him was life saving and life changing in profound ways. The short stories, dreams and poems in this little book are examples of how Meher Baba has been an active force in Winnie's life for almost 50 years.

2008 ; Compiled and Edited by  Randy Wasserstrom & Zuzanna Vee
2008 ; Compiled and Edited by Randy Wasserstrom & Zuzanna Vee
This is an extract from this book : Page 45 ...

I've been amazed at how completely Baba plans every detail of our lives before He sets things into motion. My coming to Him was in the works even before I was born. My mother, father and stepfather were all students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in the late 1920's and early 1930's. My mother and my father graduated in 1933, and they were married in the Fall of 1934. They spent their honeymoon at the Ocean Forest Hotel in Myrtle Beach, about a mile south of what is now the Meher Center. Elizabeth Patterson saw the Center property for the first time in the spring of that same year. The hotel is no longer there, having been replaced by a Hilton. But in its day it was the place to go in Myrtle Beach. As a young child in North Carolina, I loved going to church. Mom used to say I would sit on the front steps and cry if she didn't take me there. Even at the age of four, I always went to the regular church services rather than the nursery or the children's activities. Before I could read, I learned hymns by ear and joyously sang them with the adults. I listened attentively to the sermons and tried to absorb their messages. As I grew up, I felt Jesus's presence when I said my prayers and I knew His love. I often played church with my dolls using my dolls, stuffed animals and my parents as the congre- gation. I would preach little sermons about being good and cleans- ing our hearts. I led hymns and even passed the collection plate! I was devotional by nature and felt connected to Jesus as God. My parents divorced when I was five and Mom then mar- ried my stepfather. We moved to Plainfield, New Jersey, where we spent the next fourteen years. Marshall Hay, who I later met in Chapel Hill, also lived in Plainfield. Although I didn't meet him at the time, I later discovered that his mother and my step-grandfather knew each other there. When I was about nine, I used to long to take communion with the congregation. I was distinctly aware of the deep spiritual meaning of communing with the Beloved. Although I didn't put it into words at the time, I also began to feel more separate from God because of the injustice of our family and the congregation under the guise of Christian love. I had to wait until I was thir- teen to become a member of the church and was required to attend catechism classes and answer questions about Church doctrine. I found the classes boring and irrelevant, but a necessary step to being able to share in the sacrament of communion. I yearned to reconnect with my Beloved. Mom was a Southerner through and through, and for the entire time we lived in New Jersey, she wanted to return to the South. When my stepfather retired in 1961, our family moved to Chapel Hill, and in 1963 I married a Chapel Hill native. My husband and I lived there from 1963 to 1967 when we separated and divorced. During those years, we were a part of the hip, psychedelic, coun- terculture scene. Marshall Hay was also a part of that scene and that is how my Baba story begins. That Can't Be God In the Fall of 1966, my friend Marshall returned to Chapel Hill after spending the summer in Myrtle Beach with his parents. I was glad to see him because we always had conversations about the cosmos, evolution of consciousness and God. He was a great talker, eager to expound on his own latest theories, and I was more than ready to learn anything that would lessen my depression and re-create myself. One day Marshall called and said he had something impor- tant to tell me. I put away the laundry I had been folding and went uptown to meet him for a couple of beers at Harry's Bar and Grill. It was about 4 o'clock that afternoon when I pushed opened the double doors and headed across the large, grimy black and white tile floor to the booth where Marshall was sitting. He was putting a dime in the little juke box that was attached to the wall in the booth. Oh good, I thought. This is the best juke box in town (oldies but goodies). I sank into a lumpy red vinyl seat. Familiar words floated out from the juke box: "Scotch and soda, gigger of gin, oh what a spell you've got me in, oh my, do I feel high..." I looked across the table at Marshall and noticed how rested, relaxed, unworried and happy he looked. We ordered two Buds and then Marshall took a small card from his pocket and put it on the table in front of me. "What's this?" I asked, picking it up. He answered, "That, my friend, is a picture of God in human form. His name is Meher Baba." I looked at the picture. Baba's face was wide, with a busy moustache, large twinkling eyes and a grin that went ear to ear. I laughed out loud. "You can't be serious. I mean, I don't know what I'd expect God to look like but He can't look like that." I put the card down and took a swig of my beer. "He looks like that comedian, you know, Jerry Cologna. Remember him? He was on TV about ten years ago." I chuckled again. "Jeez, what's Marshall into now?" Not put off by my response, Marshall began a long story about his summer - working at Hardee's in Myrtle Beach with a guy who told him about a spiritual retreat center up the road- run by two old ladies who used to live in India and who said that this guy Baba is the Avatar, the Godman, the Buddha, Christ come again. "He lives in India and has kept complete silence for over forty years. He says He loves us more than we can ever love our- selves." "Huh?" "And He says we can all become one with God; it is the goal of all creation, and we do it through love. And when we attain union with God we don't come back anymore." I took another drink of beer, then ordered iced tea instead. Now I wanted to hear everything. "You mean there's a way out of all this?" I was afraid to hope, but a spark shot through me and excitement welled up in my chest. A couple of hours later, I went home. My husband, Bobby, was back from classes, sitting in the big rocker, reading. I told him all about Baba and he said, "Well you know Marshall. He's always on a kick about something," and went back to his book. "Yeh, you're right, he's a fanatic," I called from the porch. I felt the wonder leave me and a sinking feeling began again. I thought, maybe a walk would help. It didn't. Over the next few months, Marshall and I talked a lot about the spiritual path and Meher Baba. One spring afternoon in 1967, we were sitting on the rock wall across Franklin Street from Harry's. Marshall was more vehement than usual. "Baba says He is the highest of the high. He says taking drugs isn't going to get you anywhere. He says if you could find God by taking drugs, He wouldn't be worth attaining. He says drugs are harmful physically, mentally and spiritually." He looked at me intently, as if to impress upon me the depth of his conviction and sincerity. "Oh," was all I could say. But I thought, What does Meher Baba know? He 's never dropped acid. Sometimes I thought Marshall was right about everything and sometimes our conversations re-sparked my hopes of being delivered from the bleakness of my life. By then, several of my friends had made trips to Myrtle Beach to the Center and they inevitably returned looking peaceful and happy. I figured some- thing was happening there, but whenever I mentioned Baba to Bobby, I felt put down and insignificant. One Sunday morning in May, Bobby and I were at the kitchen table, having just finished a late breakfast. As I collected the dishes and poured more coffee for us, I mentioned what Baba said about giving your life over to the will of God, which obligated Him to take responsibility for you. There really was a personal God who cared enough about me to lead me on the spiritual path, protect my spirit, reveal the Truth and love me. I'd been hoping for exactly that - forever it seemed. Bobby picked up the Sports section and over the top of its pages said, "Meher Baba's just for a bunch of neurotics who can't take care of themselves." I was sud- denly afraid of Bobby's disapproval, and so I agreed with him one more time. But secretly, my longing continued to grow.






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