The Singing River
A Woman Discovers the Eternal Gift of God's Love
I know little about why the Pascagoula River makes a singing sound. I only know that it was a part of my childhood—something I took for granted growing up near its shores in southern Mississippi. Only later, in retrospect, did I understand its significance in my life.
My father loved the mystery of old legends about why the Pascagoula was called the Singing River, and he was the only one I knew who could hear the river sing.
"The water has to be like glass," he would say, "and it's always loudest in late afternoon. You have to know how to listen."
Going fishing on the Singing River was a learning experience. He loved teaching me how to catch a fish.
"Watch the cork," he would say. "Don't jerk the line too soon. Wait for the cork to go under completely."
Then a time would come when all conditions were just right—no breeze, calm water, and attention focused on the cork. He would whisper, "Listen . . . I can hear it." And I knew he was listening to the river sing.
In those days, the late 1920s and early 1930s, there were no modern conveniences available to us. No electricity, no newspapers, not even a battery-powered radio; but we had lots of books and knew how to entertain ourselves. At night my father would light the lamps and, when he wasn't too tired, read some fairy tales or other stories to us from the children's books. These stories washed over my childhood and resonated in my adult life metaphorically.
Then war came, I grew up, and everything changed.
In 1954, I was at a crossroads with a failed marriage and a yearning to get away and find new horizons. So with little more than a longing for something new, I left for California. I had read a story in my early teens about a man who loved the ocean. He was an artist who lived on a sailboat in Santa Barbara, California. The name, Barbara, attracted me because it was also my name. I dreamed about living there someday.
Three years later, in California, I was married again—to a commercial fisherman and abalone diver who lived on his boat in a small town fifteen miles south of Santa Barbara. His hobby was painting seascapes and scenes of the different boats and harbors along the coast. Within a year, I was actually living in Santa Barbara; my dream had come true. We lived there until 1967, when our boat mysteriously sank while anchored in the harbor.
New business opportunities opened in Dana Point, where a new harbor was being built. I had no idea how much my life was about to change with this move.
I bought a copy of Brad Steiger's book In My Soul I am Free (about Paul Twitchell, modern-day founder of Eckankar) because of the reference to Edgar Cayce on the cover. I had read my way through all the occult bookstores in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, searching for something and following my interest. I found some truth in everything but nothing to tie it together.
Edgar Cayce had opened my eyes to out-of-body experiences and to this interest a new dimension was added by Paul Twitchell: Soul Travel—the ability to explore the worlds of God while still living in the physical.
I mailed a request to Paul Twitchell for more information about Eckankar. While I waited for a response, I decided to try a spiritual exercise called the Easy Way that Paul had given in Steiger's book.
That night I waited until my husband and son went to sleep. Then, following the instructions, I chanted HU, a sacred name of God, while focusing my attention on the space between the eyebrows, the Tisra Til, or Spiritual Eye.
I had no idea what to expect. The thought of popping out of my body, described in the book as sounding like a cork popping out of a bottle, was frightening. So I cautiously tried to visualize the Blue Star (a sign of the Mahanta), as suggested, while chanting HU.
Over and over, I would quiet my mind and focus on infinity; this had worked before in seeing auras. But the image of a cork bobbing in the water kept reappearing, and the childhood memory of fishing on the Singing River with my father flooded my inner screen.
Then gently, softly, in the quiet inner still of this secret place, came sound—the faint but audible sound of HU-U-U-U.
The blaze of this epiphany overwhelmed me. In that moment, I realized what my father had heard when the river sang.
I enrolled to study the Eckankar discourses, choosing Soul Travel—The Illuminated Way from the list of spiritual services Paul Twitchell offered then. The discourses began to arrive monthly, one at a time. Each discourse offered a different technique for Soul Travel. I was way over my head and realized it, but with time, a rhythm developed with the monthly format. And I could always recall my first experience, of fishing with my father, and reach the Sound Current.
Several weeks later, another spiritual experience shook me to the core. I was awakened by a loud, roaring sound, followed by an electric vibration that resonated throughout my body in a rippling effect, starting at my toes and vibrating up through the top of my head. Nothing I had read so far had prepared me for this experience or could explain what it was.
In the days ahead, I realize that I had been tuned in—like a tuning fork—to the Audible Life Stream. From that time on, I no longer had to reach the Sound with a spiritual exercise; It was always there.
This journey has brought many experiences in the ebb and flow of spiritual growth—including many dark nights when there was no way or path—but the Sound has never left me. It is always there, a part of me, yearning to be known.
I couldn't share this experience. I had no words to explain. I didn't know then, so many years ago, that there are no words to explain the synchronicity of corks—or the "isness" of things.
What did I ever do to deserve such guidance? It is as if some benevolent presence made sure I wouldn't miss it this time—after countless lifetimes, years. So I was provided with a river that sings and a father who heard it, a father who taught me fishing as a spiritual exercise, and with his stories, awakened in me a sense of mystery and quest. Then in 1954, the ECK-Vidya, a form of prophecy, revealed a glimpse of life to come in California. Who do I thank for all this? And for this degree of realization?
The answer can only be divine love.
On October 22, 1981, as the Rod of ECK Power was passed to the new Living ECK Master in the Valley of Tirmer, I had a dream. Teddy bears had joined hands and were dancing in a circle singing.
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy
Paul Twitchell had sent his teddy bears (a special gift of love he was known to give to his wife, Gail) across time and space to sing this "Fuzzy Wuzzy" song. It held a special meaning for me. Each line of the song (Wuzzy . . . Wuzzy . . . Wuzzy . . . Was he) sounds like Wah Z, which is the spiritual name of Sri Harold Klemp, the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master. From now on, I would have his spiritual guidance.
I was reminded, once more, of how very much we are loved.
Excerpted from the 2010 Eckankar Journal, copyright © 2009 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.