by your servant
Kirpamaya das

That is how the day started. I had just opened up the Palace Gift Shop. As I listened to the drips of morbid rain water beating their dirge on the roof above my head I thought “Krishna!… !.. Looks like another overcast day spelled with a capital “D” for depression. Can’t You do something about these depressing drips?”

Suddenly the wind began to blow with an eerie howl. A tall stranger walked into the gift shop. With long hair flowing down below his shoulders he started staring at the ceiling for a long time. “How strange!” I thought “Hope he is not some kind of weirdo!” After a few tense moments of silence he walked to the back of the gift shop as if he knew where he was going and sure enough he did. He peered through the wrought iron gates into the abandoned restaurant. My curiosity bump was bursting my kurta. A few buttons fell to the floor.

Finally he came over to me and with an outstretched hand said “Hari Bol! Prabhu” We shook hands. It turns out the he wasn’t a stranger after all, at least not to the thousands of hand cut pieces of colored glass in New Vrindaban’s stain glass windows. It was Bhakta Jim who had lived in New Vrindaban for several years working with Narendra Prabhu in the stain glass department. He had just come from the R.V.C. temple.

He informed me that the center portion of the stain glass skylight above the R.V.C. temple room used to be above where I was standing in the gift shop. “After we installed it here, we decided to enlarge it and bring it down for Radha Vrindaban Chandra to look up at.” He said with a wry Brijabasi smile. “Sounds familiar!” I thought. “Most have been a massive undertaking” I said. “Yea! But something about this place inspired us to do the impossible. Even though it’s been twenty years since I’ve been here, because I helped make these stain glass windows , there is a part of me that will never leave New Vrindaban.”

Now I felt like a strange weirdo. How judgmental I had been when he first walked in. We talked for some time. He said he was now a teacher of sociology for a college in Western Michigan. He had four grownup children and was currently working on his P.H.D. He told me his dream was to someday help establish the credibility of the Hare Krishna movement in the eyes of modern academia.

Then he said. “Prabhu! Before I go can you let me see the sky lights of the old gift shop and restaurant? “Sure!” I said. I grabbed the keys and off we went. As we looked at the skylights we came to one panel where Bhakta Jim began to yelp! like an excited puppy. “I remember that piece of cut glass up there. Do you see it?” As he pointed the sun came out from hiding. I raised my squinting eyes, trying to see what he was pointing at.

“I remember that piece. It came from a barrel of rejected pieces and I saved it and put it up there for Srila Prabhupada”. I could not see the piece of glass he was pointing to, but I did get his point. As the sun light filtered through the colored pieces of glass in the skylight Bhakta Jim turned to me and said ” We were all rejected broken pieces of glass, of different colors…different shapes. Then Srila Prabhupada put us together and made a wonderful offering to Sri Sri Radha Vrindabanchandra.” Bhakta Jim’s eyes glowed like the skylight above our heads. It was contagious. The drips of rain water were no longer depressing to me. I had found something else instead.

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Reader Comments

When I first saw the title of your post and saw that you had written it I thought to myself “Oh no! Kripa`s giftshop has caved in due to the rain!”

Thankfully that was not the case as I remember a few years ago in your workspace all the cans that were spread around to catch the “drips’. It was a wonderful lunch and conversation the three of us had.

Thank you for such a great story, it enlightened my day!