Our Centre Community: Emily Vimala Rose
The story of my connection to Babaji begins before my birth, and is perhaps more of a story about my family than about me. My parents met in university, and upon graduation, they began to search for some land. Their dream was to build a home and start a farm, and in the fall of 1980, they purchased 104 acres in Quebec. My dad’s family was from Hawaii, so my parents would spend the winters there and return to Quebec in the summers to work on building their home. My older sister was born the year after they purchased the property in Quebec, and shortly thereafter, my parents read the book, Be Here Now, and met Babaji. A year later, they spent some time working on building the Community Building at Mount Madonna Center in California. They had been hoping to see Babaji but didn’t know that he returned to India at that time of year. My parents were both vegetarian and were studying yoga practices and philosophy already, and Babaji became their guru. I was born in Hawaii in 1984, and in 1986, my younger sister was born in the newly completed home in Quebec. That was the only full year that we spent in Quebec.
My childhood was spent between Texas and our beautiful home in Quebec. My dad had gone back to school to complete a master’s degree in Architecture and Land Development, and my sisters and I loved school and our activities during the school year. Every May, we would return to our home in Quebec. We worked hard during those summer months helping in the gardens and raspberry fields, and in whatever chores were invented for us. Our summer job was picking strawberries for a neighbor’s strawberry farm at 65 cents for a 4L basket. I remember picking berries for a whole season and earning less than $100.
Although we were working hard, we also had a tremendous amount of fun and freedom. We had a playhouse that my dad built where we would spend hours playing. The local children all spoke French, so we learned to speak French in a true immersion setting in order to have any friends to play with. Long summer days were spent picking wild strawberries, swimming in our pond, and having campfires outside under the stars. Our life was connected to the Earth and my parents were our teachers, sharing the yogic teachings with us. They were devoted and gave selflessly to me and my sisters. We were living in a happy, warm and loving family. On our return to school in the fall, we would occasionally attend the Toronto retreats, where we would participate in the kids’ program. I remember particularly liking the See’s candy sticks that Babaji always gave us.
We moved to Colorado in the fall of 1995, as my dad had started his own company there. We loved the access to the outdoors, and almost every weekend was spent outside hiking or snowboarding in the mountains. In the spring of 1998, my little brother, Johnny was born. It was such a happy change for our family!
I attended Smith College for my undergraduate degree in Massachusetts. This was my first time away from my family, and I was thankful to have my older sister also at the same school. My little sister also attended Smith a couple years later. It was during my third year at Smith that we attended the New Year’s Retreat in California at Mount Madonna Center for the first time. Babaji still gave my sisters and I candy like he had done at the retreats in Toronto, and seemed interested in our lives, asking many questions. This was the last time we would have a family darshan with him, all together.
After graduating, I taught Spanish at an all-boys school in Connecticut, and pursued a master’s degree the year after at Boston University in Education with a specialty in foreign language education. I moved to Dallas, Texas in the fall of 2008, and began an amazing job teaching Spanish and coaching. With extended family close by and an inspiring job, I felt challenged and fulfilled. It felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be for a while, and after years of moving constantly, I felt ready to put down some roots.
Our family returned to the New Year’s Retreat in California in 2009. On the first evening, I smiled at Gabriel, and we spent a lot of the rest of the retreat smiling at each other. It felt like meeting someone whom I knew already, as if a previously unknown space was filled in my heart. Six months later, in July of 2010, I moved to Vancouver to begin sharing life with Gabriel, and a year later, he proposed under the most beautiful sunset at my family’s farm in Quebec. We were married in 2012 in Mexico, surrounded by family and friends.
Now, Gabriel and I help with the Vancouver satsang on Sundays here in Vancouver. We are thankful to Babaji for his teachings that are part of our daily life. We enjoy the time we are able to spend at Mount Madonna and Salt Spring Centre, as these places will always hold a sense of belonging for us. And most of all, we hold our family in a special place in our hearts and in our lives, knowing that our loving and supportive families have brought us to where we are today.