“Lucy’s” daughter had used illegal drugs. The girl was 13, and her explorations had landed her in a drug rehabilitation program where she spent most of her day and had her schooling. It was just before Thanksgiving Day. Lucy was a volunteer with the rehab program, and the staff knew her. So they agreed to let six of the rehab youths come to Lucy’s home for Thanksgiving dinner.
Then, a cloud appeared on the horizon. Her boyfriend at the time, “Ron,” dropped in while Lucy and her three kids were preparing dinner. He brought a folding table to help seat the larger-than-expected group.
A word about Ron: he was usually a good-hearted person. But as a veteran of Vietnam, he had physical and mental scars that sometimes caused him to fly into a rage with the slightest provocation. Some little annoyance lit his fuse that day.
Very angry, he shouted at the top of his lungs and pulled the tablecloth from the table, hurling the silverware onto the floor. Ron then folded up his table and stormed out the door, slamming it shut behind him.
Silence. Total, shocked silence.
“Oh great,” thought Lucy. “What now?”
A nudge came that she later realized had come to her from the Mahanta, the Inner Master. Why not, he said, turn this potential disaster into a special event?
With a smile, she broke the silence.
“Okay, now on to Plan B,” she said. “Kids, we are going to have some fun!” She ran to the linen closet, placed a large bedsheet on the floor, put the tablecloth on it, then made an announcement. “This is our new table.”
Then Lucy said to them, “We have this opportunity to not only enjoy our dinner, to be grateful for each other’s company, and to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, but the Holy Spirit has given us an unexpected gift today that we can take with us for the rest of our lives. And because this gift was given to us in such a dramatic way, I expect none of us will forget it.”
The Inner Master, who is spiritually akin to the Holy Spirit, prompted Lucy to say a few more words to her six visitors, most of whom were from troubled homes.
“This is the gift,” she continued. “If someone ever tries to take the table from under you, always have another place to put the tablecloth and go on with your life. Don’t allow someone else’s bitterness or anger take the peace and the love from your heart.
“In life, we don’t have much control over what other people will say, do, or how they will behave, but we do have control over how we understand it and let it affect us.”
That immediately changed the mood in the room. The youths began to tell how in the past they had let other people’s attitudes affect how they felt about themselves.
Lucy noticed a healing taking place. It was a feeling of being on holy ground, a feeling she would notice many times over in the future as a member of Eckankar. It occurs when someone invites the ECK, the Holy Spirit, into a situation to handle it. The atmosphere inside and outside one changes.
So much had the mood lifted, in fact, that the group raised their apple-juice glasses in a toast to Ron.
“We hope you can let your anger cool and also enjoy your Thanksgiving!” This toast and spirit of forgiveness was quite a marvelous step for these youths, whose parents may have been on drugs, were fighting each other, or just were not around.
The evening had turned out much better than Lucy could ever have imagined. The youths were more impressed with how they had shifted gears than with the actual disruption.
Lucy observed that after she joined Eckankar, the answers often came readily whenever she asked.
That Thanksgiving Day, she now realized, she had asked and the Mahanta had answered. It was as simple as that.
And that was the gift!