Wouldn't you know it, the first time in over two years that I had no car (mine was having brake work done, so I'd left it overnight), I'd end up with not one but two commitments in the morning. As it turned out, I had to abandon one of them in order to do the other, but it all worked out.
It was about 9 last night when I got a call from one of the community members—could I please take her husband's place in Gainesville in the morning, performing the Invocation for the Alachua County Board of County Commissioner's meeting? His work schedule had changed since he'd agreed, and he couldn't get free. By the time she called me, they'd already tried a good number of other devotees, but either couldn't reach them, or they weren't able to do the service. One of the advantages of being unemployed was there was no real reason for me to say no.
I couldn't help but think that Srila Prabhupada would be pleased to know that his followers were now being invited, as a matter of course, to take their place among the regular clergy in performing such officious duties. So I said yes.
Although nervous, I arrived on time, and was shown to the conference room. Taking the advice of my absent godbrother, Chaturatma Prabhu, I read the verse from the Bhagavad-gita where Krishna speaks of the particular responsibilities of leaders. But before reading it I let the commissioners know that the Bhagavad-gita is our Bible, and that my chosen verse occurs in chapter 3, which is entitled Karma-yoga. I explained that karma means action (and hence is sometimes referred to as good or bad), and the word yoga really means to link (as a yoke, which is from the same root word, joins two oxen together). So the chapter refers to activities which can help link us to the Supreme.
Then came the verse:“Whatever actions a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards the leaders set by their exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” This segued into a short prayer for the men and women on the County Council to have the guidance of the Lord in their choices and actions, so as to best lead the community into an atmosphere of love and forward progress. Simple, and I hope not too sappy. And then we all said the pledge of allegiance to the flag, after which I was free to go.
Not exactly Tulsi Gabbard (the first member of the US Congress to take her oath on the Bhagavad-gita), but somehow it felt that showing up to perform this Invocation was the right thing to do.
Although I had promised mother Indrani, who was to give the morning class at the Alachua temple, that I'd help her with the song and the Sanskrit before the class, I wasn't able to do it, and all my attempts to reach her or arrange for someone else to do it fell through as well. When she realized it, she simply turned to Radha and Krishna, whose images were on the altar, and put herself under Their care. And sure enough, by Their kindness, another devotee was easily able to cover for me. That actually served to increase Indrani's faith. Just see. Krishna can easily serve several purposes with one action.
And by the end of the day, I got my car back, brakes now safe for the road. Another day, another adventure!