By Cassandra Bramucci
If the 2017 Thomas Fire taught me anything, it taught me that one just never knows when something will “catch fire” at Meher Mount. Priorities are constantly shifting.
Even as the list of projects to be done continues to spark more lists of projects to be done, it is always Meher Baba who finds a way to ignite one’s passion at just the right moment.
What caught fire for me and others is the exposed remnant of a sandstone walkway that begins at the northeast edge of the circular driveway and extends toward the side of the current Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters.
This walkway was at Meher Mount when Avatar Meher Baba visited on August 2, 1956. Did He walk on these exact same flagstones?
DID MEHER BABA USE THIS WALKWAY?
Something drew my attention to that walkway on a visit to Meher Mount in May of 2017 as I spent a little time with then-Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky while he finished up his watering for the day.
“Was this the walkway to Agnes’ old house?” I asked Buzz. Agnes Baron was a co-founder of Meher Mount and lived there as caretaker from 1946 until her death in 1994.
"That, my dear, is where we the Avatar of this Age Himself walked,” he affirmed.
Buzz then told me how in the winter if it snowed or the ground frosted over, that partially exposed walkway always stayed clear and dry. He and his wife Ginger could look out and imagine Meher Baba walking there, even if snow covered everything else in sight.
That story struck me in a powerful way. On subsequent visits, I would always seek out that spot first and imagine Meher Baba standing there.
The path across the meadow Meher Baba took to His tree has been tended by the caretakers through the years. Visitors use this path to Baba’s Tree to walk in His footsteps. The spot where He sat under the tree is marked with a heart stone provided many years later by Marta Flores. So many visitors have touched and garlanded that stone over the years.
But, that partially buried walkway kept calling to me.
A DESIRE TO EXCAVATE THE WALKWAY
In the chaos that followed the December 2017 Thomas Fire, as I filled in as interim caretaker, I would occasionally feel the desire to do some excavation at the end of the visible path to see if more of it had been buried under the soil and creeping fauna.
But, there was so much to do, so many projects vying for attention, the idea kept slipping down away.
Then on May 28, 2018, Eric Turk was working on clearing weeds and grooming the areas around the Visitor Center. I asked him if he would remove some of the dirt to reveal more of the walkway.
That conversation ignited Eric’s interest as well. I told him the story Buzz had told me. Eric agreed to clear away the dirt obscuring the next part of the walkway as he was already scraping away the weeds in that spot.
By the time I returned to the spot several hours later, Eric had carefully uncovered another eight feet of the sandstone, some of which had been buried under four inches of dirt. Then he gently washed down the revealed stones, careful not to cause any further flaking.
THE EXCITEMENT IS CONTAGIOUS
Four days later, Kyle and Lisa Morrison arrived for a week to help take care of Meher Mount while I was recovering from an injury.
Just as Kyle and Lisa arrived, a van with five visitors from India arrived. I came out to greet them all and couldn’t wait to tell them about Baba’s Walkway. Everyone began to reverently touch the stones where their Beloved had walked, taking His darshan [blessing] into their hearts.
Kyle was the most excited. He said, “This is where Meher Baba set foot on Meher Mount! This is precious. We need to preserve this.”
In fact, he continued, we should treat this like a modern-day archaeological dig, being very careful to preserve the fragile sandstone along the way. By the end of the next day, Kyle had uncovered another 12 feet, bringing the total to 30 feet.
THE WALKWAY EXTENDS TO THE GUESTHOUSE
The next day I contacted Sam Ervin to see what he recalled about the walkway.
He told me the path continued all the way to the end of the current Visitor Center, curving around toward Baba’s Fireplace which was part of the former guesthouse.
Sam agreed that Meher Baba had probably walked along those stones. He and Margaret Magnus were excited about the idea of uncovering the stones.
“It just takes people with a passion to do something like this to make it finally happen,” Margaret said.
Since then, children have placed flowers on the walkway.
It is now outlined with red landscaping flags to discourage people from walking on it until the walkway can be properly preserved.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP UNCOVER BABA'S WALKWAY
Now, there is an opportunity for other “amateur archaeologists” - who would like the chance to participate in the restoration of Baba’s Walkway – to come to Meher Mount and add their efforts to those of Eric and Kyle.
The goal is to ensure that every inch of this precious path is uncovered and preserved.