In the Shelter of Her Arms


In 1981, an American student in Europe, Gretchen McGregor walked into a book store and bought a book that would change her life forever - a history of the worship of the Divine Mother. Gripped by the possibility that this ancient tradition must still exist today, she embarked on a journey that would take her from the hills of Pennsylvania to the mountains of New Mexico and, by 1983, to a remote village in Kerala, South India, where she would find a mahatma, known only to the pious locals and a handful of spiritual seekers who had gathered around her. They called her, simply, "Amma". Convinced that she had found the Divine Mother in a human form Gretchen settled down to seek the highest truth as a spiritual aspirant in Amma's ashram. Little did she know that her journey had only just begun.

When Amma received an invitation to visit the U.S. for the first time in 1987 it was Kusuma, as Gretchen was named by Amma, who travelled alone to the U.S. to organise Amma's first tour. With little more than a hope and a prayer and often less than five dollars in her pocket, 25-year-old Kusuma traversed the length and breadth of America, armed only with a home video she had made of Amma and a heart full of faith and love. Her efforts bore fruit beyond her wildest dreams as the subsequent annual world tours allowed Amma to touch the hearts of countless people in more than 25 countries. But as Amma's mission expanded Kusuma's own heart grew distant and she found herself turning her back on Amma and walking away.

This book is Kusuma's unflinching exploration of her own spiritual journey - what brought her to Amma, and what took her away. It is also the story of how she decided to come back and finally discover that she and Amma had never really been apart.


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