Issue 1, 2020
Almost a year ago now, Swami Radhananda requested that we call her by her birth name, Mary-Ann. She had been the dynamic president of Yasodhara Ashram since 1993. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, she passed the presidency onto me in 2014, while remaining vitally active as a mentor and an initiator.
In asking us to call her Mary-Ann, she was freeing herself from the responsibility of being the spiritual director of the Ashram. This spark of insight was breathtaking to many of us. It illustrated that she was maintaining awareness of her condition even as it created more limitations for her. In this act, she continued her legacy of courageously facing life’s challenges.
During the holidays this winter, Mary-Ann had a fall that resulted in a hairline fracture in one of her pelvic bones. It became clear that although we wanted to continue to care for her at the Ashram as long as possible, her present condition was beyond our capacity. She was admitted to a comfortable room in a seniors’ home, where she is now receiving the medical attention she needs, as well as loving care from family, Ashram residents and friends. Her room is filled with flowers and cards, and she is very receptive to the Light and prayers being channeled her way.
As I sit at her bedside, I reflect on the question she always asked us, especially in challenging circumstances: What are you learning?
I am learning to be present in the uncertainty of this final phase of her life, riding the waves of ups and downs, channeling love as best I can. I am learning to keep going as she does, breath by breath—singing, laughing, crying, silent. Holding the space, holding the Light.
May we live our promise as she has, realizing that whatever we gain through our dedication to the Divine is indestructible.
To learn more about Swami Radhananda and her path, read her memoir, “Carried by a Promise,” and her collection of essays, “Living the Practice,” both published by Timeless Books and available at the Ashram bookstore and
Please send Light and prayers. Cards or flowers are also welcome and can be sent to Mary-Ann McDougall at Mountain Lake Seniors Centre, 908 Eleventh Street, Room Falcon 22, Nelson BC, V1L 7A6