The Magic of the White Rose

I am an Israeli who spent 10 years in New York and only recently went back to Israel with hopes of helping peace arrive in this region that needs it so badly. Since I read Radhanath Swami’s book a few years back, I attended all lectures he gave in New York, always thinking about each lecture for months after and telling everyone who are open enough, about him, his journey and his lectures. Magical things have always happened when his light is around me.

On Tuesday, May 9, I went to see Radhanath Swami speak in Jivamukti of New York, to get energized and focused as I always feel after his lectures. Not knowing if the Swami ever arrives in Israel, I knew this could be the last lecture of his I will see for a long while. I was saddened by this fact but was also thankful for the privilege I was given to see him so close to my departure.

The lecture was inspiring as always and at the end, while Radhanath Swami was giving away cookies to the audience, I walked up to him, scared to take time from him as he looked so tired. I very quickly explained that I was leaving to go back to Israel and desired his blessing to help me bring peace to the Middle East. Radhanath Swami’s eyes lit up and he took my necklace and closed his eyes, investing time in blessing it for the social change I am hoping to help bring to my country. When he was done, he opened his eyes, handing me a cookie and a white rose and asked that I give the flower to someone on the way home.

I walked out of Jivamukti into the hectic Union Square at about 10pm on a Tuesday. The street was rushing and gushing with people and I stood there for a few minutes examining the crowd but my heart couldn’t find the right person to give the flower to. I went underground to take the train home but couldn’t find anyone on the platform or in the train to hand the flower to either. As I got off the train and walked home I felt so disappointed with myself – here I am wandering through New York City without being able to hand out a flower. Walking up my street, I saw a man smoking a cigarette in his yard and decided he would be the one to receive the Swami’s rose. When I came closer to him, I realized I recognized the man – he was the same man who 2 years before, on the night of the Holocaust commemoration, started speaking to me randomly but when he heard I was from Israel, he lashed out at me. It didn’t matter that I was a pro peace Israeli, he hated Israel and felt like he had to yell about it to me for a good hour. Being the granddaughter of 4 Holocaust survivors, it was especially hard to hear his shouts that night and when I got home the tears rushed down my face.

And here this man was, 2 years later, standing in his yard and smoking a cigarette. My heart felt like it stopped as I walked up to him and with the white rose in my hand said, “I don’t know if you remember me, I am Jewish and hope one day you can forgive me”. He caught my wrist and said he has been looking for me for 2 years, embarrassed to speak to me when he saw me in the neighbourhood. He asked me for my forgiveness, said he stopped drinking after that night and how thankful he was that I approached him with the flower. We said goodbye after a few minutes but this story still brings goose bumps to me as I write it. This type of magic kept me up that night, and I am so full of thanks for Radhanath Swami’s energy that allowed such an incident to occur and had given me the honour of being a participant in it. It reinforced my thought that Radhanath Swami’s influence works outward, influencing people beyond the immediate people he touches. Through our Swami I became a messenger to his healing powers, allowing this amazing incident to happen.

I am so thankful.

–Shani Manor


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