After a week of being desk and couch bound, rationalizing I couldn’t go out and exercise because it was raining everyday, I walked to the temple Sunday. The 3 mile (5k) hike would take an hour at a reasonable walk for a normal healthy person, but it took me about an hour and 3/4. I was worn out when I got there, but the next day wasn’t that bad, which is the real measure.

I used to live in the ashram at the original Vrindaban farm in New Vrindaban. It was a 2 mile walk down to Bahulaban every morning to go to work, then two miles back up in the evening. It took about 40 minutes. This is a famous walk, well remembered by the early members of NV.

One day I stayed up to help prepare a feast for some festival or other; one of the big ones. Radhanath and Candramauli were there doing the cooking and Parambrahman (PB), the ashram head at the time, was overseeing and doing whatever. Suddenly they realized they were going to be short of sugar, and would fall short of their 108 preparations goal because of this lack. The deadline for the offering was looming, and it was looking grim for the home team.

PB looked at me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, “If you can make it to Bahulaban and back with 5 pounds of sugar in 30 minutes, I’ll get you the 4 o’clock offering from Radha Vrindaban Candra.” Now, the 4 o’clock offering was an ambrosial gift from the gods. It was the creation of Dharmakala, a milk sweet cornucopia with things that city temples never even dreamed of, all made from the fresh milk of NV’s cows. The centerpiece was a whole cheesecake.

I told him to check the clock and was gone before he finished glancing at it. The daily walk and my normal rigorous workload had me in relatively good shape. I was twentysomething so the forest was a blur as I hit the road running. I had never made the trip that fast, but I calculated the pace I would need to maintain in order to make it. I wasn’t sure if I could keep the pace up but part of distance running is ignoring the pain, and a 4 o’clock offering can be a great balm. I cheated a bit, and negotiated with Radharani, telling Her I was doing this for Krishna so please pull me along. This wasn’t the whole story, but I thought maybe She would see it as amusing and help me anyway.

I was confident I could cover the distance –- I knew all the bad spots and ruts in the road to avoid and where the stepping stones were for the creek crossings, but there was one variable. Something that was harder than the run -– procuring the sugar from the tight hand of Gopinath, the keeper of the stores. He was procedure oriented, and nothing would leave the storeroom without authorization, either a standing order or a signed requisition form. I had neither, and no time to spare to get a form signed. I went directly to the storeroom, and the first bit of luck fell into place. He was there.

I had no time for smoozing or relationship maintenance –- I gave him the straight pitch and threw myself on his mercy. Of course, the straight pitch was it was for Radha Vrindaban Natha’s feast offering, and I may have neglected to mention my own motivation. My world held its breath as he looked me straight in the eye, slooowly looked at the clock, then turned back and said the most blessed word I could have ever heard at that moment. “Okay.” In what seemed like slow motion, he got up, went to the shelf, and handed me the bag of sugar. My feet were moving before the hand had finished grasping. If I said thanks, it would have been over my shoulder.

After that, it was simply mind over matter, driving the body like a beast of burden to its destination. The return trip was harder as it was uphill, but I managed to keep the requisite pace. I ran into RVN’s temple kitchen, too breathless to speak. PB looked at me like it happened everyday, took the sugar, and nodded. If tongues could smile, mine did, as not only was I good for that day when the maha would be distributed, but I had an RVC 4 o’clock in the bank. It was a good day.