Volume 16 - Issue 12
December 2018
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Posted on: Dec 24, 2018

“I Love Them Both - Jesus and Baba!”

Conversation with Late Ms Joyce Darlene Barker

Late Ms Joyce Darlene Barker also known by her pen name Grandma Joyce is a devotee from Canada and is famous through her children’s books. Thanks to her frequent and long visits to Prasanthi Nilayam, she had some explaining to do to her grandchildren when she returned home. And those explanations, narrations, descriptions and storytelling eventually became children’s books like:
Where did Grandma go? To India with Grandma; Bringing Baba home and Grandma Joyce’s Baba tales. She has also authored books for adults such as: The touch of Baba; Unforgettable Baba; With Love, Baba; I will do Baba; I will change Baba and Finding my way to God.

She had during her professional years worked as a children’s librarian for about 26 years and also became a minister of a small, one of a kind non-denominational church. There she experienced many miracles and also would meet the teacher and minister who would eventually lead her to Bhagawan.

Presented below is a transcript of the conversation she (JB) had with Radio Sai’s Karuna Munshi (KM) on the Thursday Live show, Morning Glory on Jan 01, 2015. That would be her last trip to Prasanthi as she breathed her last on Oct 31, 2015 at the age of 86, after a brief illness. During her stay in the hospital, she experienced the presence of her Lord, Bhagawan Baba in the form of Vibhuti manifestation on her person and the hands of her friend and fellow devotee. In this interview, with eyes closed and palms open, she spoke words that were deeply profound and filled with love for Bhagawan. As we celebrate another beautiful Christmas at Prasanthi, we are happy to share the edited transcript of that conversation for your reading pleasure.

 

Listen to the Conversation
Conversation with Ms Joyce Darlene Barker

 

KM: Sairam Joyce and a very warm welcome to Radio Sai.

JB: Sairam, thank you!

KM:It is wonderful to have you here. Now I want to begin by asking you where did your Christianity begin?

The Young Minister!

JB: Well, it must have begun in another life because I really don’t know where it came from. My folks were not religious and one time when I was quite young, around six, my mother started going to a little tiny church in a little tiny town and she signed us up – my sister and myself for a summer Bible study school. And that was the first time I heard the name Jesus, and I fell in love with Him immediately! I fell in love with His compassion, with His dedication to everyone else but Himself, to His wonderful words of wisdom, to His miracles that just blew me away. And I believed in miracles immediately. Einstein said there are two ways to live your life. One is as if everything is a miracle, the other as though nothing is a miracle. And I believe that everything is a miracle. And as a child I just soaked up every word of Jesus like a sponge. I tried to live my life like Jesus. I tried to follow what He suggested, I prayed to Him. He was my best friend, He was the one that I told all my troubles to. He was the one that I listened to in prayer.

Ms Joyce Darlene Barker before her speech on Christmas Day 2014

And after this initial meeting with Jesus, I found myself, about eight years of age, sitting with children on a brick wall with our legs dangling over, and a sunset in front of us, giving them my first sermon about God, creation, on a sunset and so on.

KM: Oh wow! Sermon on the wall! The minister in you was brewing.

JB: It was there but I didn’t know it. And the other thing I remember was the first funeral I did and that was for a chipmunk! The chipmunk was put into a little box and we buried it and I did a service for it. This was just right down my alley. I had no idea what I was doing. But God was coming through all this time and with all the troubles that kids have growing up, there was never a time when I didn’t turn to Jesus to ask, what should I do, or wonder if Jesus were here what would I do?

Few of the titles authored by Ms Joyce Darlene Barker.

A Subtle Introduction to Baba

So I have a great deal to be thankful for that I was introduced to Jesus first. And so many years later, probably sixty years or so later I was introduced to the name ‘Baba’. It was through my teacher, Mrs Elsee Hager who was also a minister of this little church that I attended. She was a remarkable woman. She taught us not just as a minister, but she taught us how to live outside of the church as well. And I didn’t know until much later that what she was teaching us was Baba (Baba’s message). She had come to Baba twice. I realised that this woman was a mine of diamonds, because she was telling me something that I really wanted to know.

After having classes with her for almost twenty years, during which time I didn’t have a clue who Baba was, one day one of her suggested reading for her class happened to be a book on Baba. It was a long time before I got around to reading this book by Dr Samuel Sandweiss, The Holy man and the Psychiatrist. That was the first book and as soon as I finished that book I wanted to go and see Baba.

KM: And here you are today I think two and half months short of your eighty sixth birthday and you just celebrated Christmas in Prasanthi Nilayam and you gave a very inspiring and elevating talk to the entire congregation of devotees in the Kulwant Hall. Now going back if you look back Joyce what was the first Christmas you had in Prasanthi Nilayam like?

First Experience of Christmas at Prasanthi

JB: Oh my goodness! It was wonderful! Till the age of six I had been used to dealing with presents, Christmas trees, and so on. My father would go to great lengths to let us know that Santa Claus was on the roof with a reindeer. There were sounds, jingles, footsteps on the rug, and that was Christmas.

That was wonderful, but then I discovered what Christmas was really about. It put the ‘Christ’ into Christmas when I came to Prasanthi! It gave me an idea of what the real Christmas was like. That was the first Christmas. It was so magical, it was so beautiful! Words fail me! All I can say is that it was pure like a flute. It was pure like artesian well water. It was beautiful like the jasmine flower and the smell of the jasmine flower. It was full of love, fellowship and caring of people for people.

We all shared that basic belief in Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He was whom we wanted to be with, we wanted to be around, who we wanted to listen to, who we wanted to see. I wanted to watch every movement of His. He said – Don’t lose sight of Me. I had very good eyesight. I guess I still do, especially long distance. I would watch Him until He was just an orange speck across the Sai Kulwant Hall. I never took my eyes off Him as long as I could because I followed what He said. Everything He said I took to heart. Everything I heard I tried to put into practice.

He has been a wonderful part of my spiritual growth. And it was interesting because moving from Jesus to Baba was not a step up, it was a move over. His teachings were no different than Jesus. They were not in conflict with anything that I had learnt. In fact they just made them stronger, more powerful, more understandable than anything I had had before.

Growing up in Faith

KM: That is so eloquent and so heartfelt. Now as a former minister of a church Joyce, I would like to ask you what is your favourite Bible quote to explain the relationship of the growth of a Christian into a Baba devotee?

JB: Well, before I came in (for the interview) I prayed for a verse and opened the Bible and this is what I open to. It is the first Corinthians thirteen, but it is not the usual ones that are quoted:

‘When I was a child I spake as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man or woman I put away childish things.’
(1 Corinthians 13:11)

I started young as a small child giving sermons to a chipmunk, and eventually I grew up and out of being attached to any church and being able to look towards something greater which covered the whole waterfront.

The second verse after that is:

‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)

To me that is exactly what happened. Slowly all of us have to grow through our pettiness, our jealousies, our angers, our fears, our griefs, everything that keeps us separate from God. And when that happens then we do not see through a glass darkly. We see face to face with God.

KM: Wow! Very well said. Now Joyce I believe you were very fortunate to have interviews with Baba and you had an interview where you sought clarity from Him about the relationship between His teachings and that of Jesus. Would you care to share it with our listeners?

"In My Life There is Both of Them"

JB: Yes I will. I would never forget that. Baba asked us if we had any spiritual questions. And I hit my forehead with the palm of my hand because I was meant to bring those questions and of course, Baba saw to it that I did not. So all I could ask Him was this, “Jesus, Jesus I love you both (I love Swami and Jesus). I cannot reconcile the two. And His profound and simple answer was, “Don’t try”! So I have never tried to figure out the ‘whys’. Why did I become a Christian? Why was I the only one in the family who was interested in this sort of thing? Why was it that my great grandmother gave me her great, huge Bible of all the relatives being very unhappy about it? She just said, “She is the only one that has read it”. That was that. She was probably an influence that I wasn’t even aware of as a child.

So we learn, we grow, we come through all these painful experiences, and we have to do that. Nobody is immune to what we have to go through. However Baba talks about something like a morphine shot. He gives us this morphine shot of love, of Baba, to help us through all this stuff that we have to learn before we can see Him face to face.

KM: Very well said. So He advised you not to try to reconcile.

JB: No and I haven’t.

KM: And Jesus still holds a very special place in your heart?

JB: Very definitely. In my kitchen there is a picture of both of them, in the bedroom there is both of them. In my heart there is both of them. I do believe that Jesus was saved by His father – Baba. I have never been hung up on dogma of any church. Whichever was the church I was close to, is the church I went to. They were all different Christian churches that tried to ‘push’ different ideas to the congregation, so to say. But I never seemed to be concerned about that. Whatever I needed to learn, I learnt. Whatever I needed to read, the book was there. Whatever I needed to say when someone was in trouble, I said. But it was not me, it was always been the God behind the whole Universe who speaks.

KM: Joyce, it is so interesting to hear how broadminded you are, how open you are to loving God in every way possible and it is the same sentiment very refreshingly seems to echo from the Vatican this time around because the current Pope – Pope Francis has been talking about this open mindedness, has been talking about accepting and letting people be who they are without trying to convert. What are your thoughts on that?

JB: I think it is fantastic. I never really read that much about it but do remember hearing about it. And my thoughts are that it is bound to be, it is going to happen no matter what. And that one day, in won’t be my lifetime I would believe because of my age, but one day there will be only one religion – the Religion of Love. It can’t be anything else. God has willed it so and it will be!

KM: And to that thought only one religion – ‘The Religion of Love’ – we all say Amen.  

JB: Yes.

KM: Wonderful having you on this show Joyce Darlene Barker. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your experiences and insights with us. Sai Ram.

JB: Thank you for having me. Sai Ram.

Thank you and loving Sai Ram,
Team Radio Sai

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