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Dedication We the friends and workers of the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center dedicate Dedication We the friends and workers of the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center dedicate our hearts to Meher Baba in appreciation of the suffering he undertook for us in 1952, in the heartland of America.

It was in 1952 that Meher Baba first came to his “Home in the It was in 1952 that Meher Baba first came to his “Home in the West, ” to visit the place that his devotees had lovingly built for him in Myrtle Beach and called the Meher Spiritual Center. This was a joyous time … an event that was many years in preparation. Meher Baba is pictured here along with Adele Wolkin, Filis Frederick, his sister Mani, Rita (Sparkie) Lukes, Ivy O. Duce, Mehera, Delia De. Leon and Meheru.

After several weeks visiting with Baba lovers old and new, it was time for After several weeks visiting with Baba lovers old and new, it was time for them to go. On May 21, 1952, Meher Baba and the women mandali left in two cars for California to visit devotees waiting for him there. (The men mandali had been sent on ahead, the day before. ) Perhaps no-one realized the significance of it then, but the route Baba chose very closely followed the Trail of Tears Map source: U. S. National Park Service

“Kitty Davy writes in Love Alone Prevails… “Elizabeth drove the blue Nash, Baba seated “Kitty Davy writes in Love Alone Prevails… “Elizabeth drove the blue Nash, Baba seated beside her; Mehera, Mani and Meheru behind…. On the night of May 23 we stayed at Pond Crest Motor Court in the Ozarks [Arkansas]…. We were up early as usual. …After breakfast the group stood waiting in front of the motel for Baba’s signal to step into the cars. This morning Baba delayed starting, however. He came out of his room and stood quite still for some minutes on the doorstep, withdrawn, sad and unusually still. No last minute questions, no haste to be off…. Ten minutes elapsed before Baba walked to the car, followed by the eastern women…. After a short distance, Baba’s car stopped suddenly and Baba got out and paced up and down the right-hand side of the road. We too got out and stood by the car. Not a word was uttered. ” (pp. 397 -398. )

The automobile collision occurred later that day on this stretch of road about seven The automobile collision occurred later that day on this stretch of road about seven miles away from Prague, Oklahoma. This photograph was taken from the collision site, facing east.

“With lightning speed we jumped out of the car and rushed forward. The anguish “With lightning speed we jumped out of the car and rushed forward. The anguish of that moment is unforgettable…. Baba’s face with blood pouring from his head, the extraordinary expression on Baba’s face, his eyes just staring straight ahead as if into unfathomable distances. He made no sound or sign. . . just lay there motionless…. Elizabeth was in the car doubled over the wheel. Her first question had been, ‘Is he alive? ’” --Kitty Davy, Love Alone Prevails, p. 398.

The injured are rushed to the Prague Clinic When the ambulance came, they went The injured are rushed to the Prague Clinic When the ambulance came, they went to Baba with a stretcher, but he motioned toward Mehera, asking that she be helped before him. After arrival at the hospital, again he refused assistance until Mehera had received attention. Mehera was unconscious at the time, having received a very serious head injury. This image shows the emergency room entrance looking about the same as it did in the early 1950 s. Kitty recalled, “The whole Prague Clinic was turned upside down to make the party comfortable. ”

Dr. Ned Burleson later wrote: “When I finally got around to attending to Baba, Dr. Ned Burleson later wrote: “When I finally got around to attending to Baba, I was surprised to see an individual who was injured as badly as he was still smiling. I was also astounded to find that he did not speak a word, or make any sound denoting discomfort…. Dr. Burleson standing in front of the Emergency Room entrance in 1959. The most attractive quality of his personality that first day was they way he looked at me with those big brown eyes as if he were reading my mind. Later, I determined that the most astounding quality was that something which made it possible for him to receive such profound devotion and loyalty from so many fine and educated people. That quality cannot be forced. Such devotion can only be possible because he deserved it or earned it. ” (p. 400, Love Alone Prevails)

During the twelve days that Baba, Meheru and Elizabeth were cared for in Prague, During the twelve days that Baba, Meheru and Elizabeth were cared for in Prague, the townspeople expressed such loving helpfulness that all the party were deeply touched. Baba’s connection with the Burleson family continued through the years primarily by way of correspondence through his sister, Mani. Baba did not forget the Burlesons. Once, much to the delight of Mrs. Burleson and the children, he sent the family a leopard skin from India. Mani and Mehera

Fast forward 50 years…. Fast forward 50 years….

…to May 24, 2002 …to May 24, 2002

Baba lovers gathered in Prague, Oklahoma to attend a special Sahavas to commemorate the Baba lovers gathered in Prague, Oklahoma to attend a special Sahavas to commemorate the 50 th Anniversary of Baba’s automobile collision. More than 100 people from around the country and abroad attended, and Baba really lit a fire in these hearts, deepening the appreciation of His suffering and sacrifice for humanity. With the intention of one day having an actual center in the Heartland of America commemorating this monumental event, and also to facilitate pilgrimage to this sacred site, a group of people organized a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and named it Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center. Inspired to purchase the properties associated with the accident site, the Board of the Heartland Center raised some funds but were not at that time successful in several seemingly hopeful attempts. The right time came a few years later, in 2005….

The Burleson House Dr. Ned Burleson's house, located just across the alley from the The Burleson House Dr. Ned Burleson's house, located just across the alley from the Prague Clinic/ Hospital, came up for sale in 2005. Hundreds of Baba lovers from around the world made love donations within four short months, making it possible to purchase the house and establish it as a pilgrimage center of the non-profit Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center. Baba's sister. Mani and other mandali had visited the Burleson family here.

Over 100 Baba lovers came in May 2005 to remember Baba’s suffering, and celebrate Over 100 Baba lovers came in May 2005 to remember Baba’s suffering, and celebrate the opening of the new Center.

2005 Oklahoma Sahavas We stayed at the beautiful, rustic St. Crispin’s Episcopalian Retreat Center. 2005 Oklahoma Sahavas We stayed at the beautiful, rustic St. Crispin’s Episcopalian Retreat Center.

2005 Oklahoma Sahavas We heard a variety of interesting speakers, including Ed Flanagan (left), 2005 Oklahoma Sahavas We heard a variety of interesting speakers, including Ed Flanagan (left), …with Adele Wolkin, Roshan Kerawalla, Ralph and Stella Hernandez, and Duncan Knowles.

Roshan and Adele with Debbie Nordeen. Murshida Carol Conner, spiritual leader of Sufism Reoriented Roshan and Adele with Debbie Nordeen. Murshida Carol Conner, spiritual leader of Sufism Reoriented

There were also musicians… …and a choir. Editor’s note: We also enjoyed many more There were also musicians… …and a choir. Editor’s note: We also enjoyed many more speakers and musicians not pictured here. The absence of photos certainly does not diminish the significance of each person’s contribution.

At the Sahavas, outgoing AMBHC president Carolyn Ball recognized workers and volunteers for their At the Sahavas, outgoing AMBHC president Carolyn Ball recognized workers and volunteers for their efforts in founding the AMBHC and developing the Burleson House Project. Shown here are Julia Margaret Burleson, Debbie Nordeen, John Poag, Carolyn Ball, Art Nordeen, Ed Flanagan, Lynn Whilhite, Peter Rippa, Dan Sparks, and Angela Chen.

We gathered at the Burleson House for the formal dedication of the house to We gathered at the Burleson House for the formal dedication of the house to Baba.

During the dedication, Michael Burleson very generously donated a family treasure to the Avatar During the dedication, Michael Burleson very generously donated a family treasure to the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center: a signed copy of God Speaks which was a gift directly from Baba to the family.

Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai! Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!

We celebrated, played the piano, sang, toured the house, and visited in the shaded We celebrated, played the piano, sang, toured the house, and visited in the shaded back yard. Mychal, Dr. Ned Burleson’s granddaughter, even served us tea (below, right).

It couldn’t have happened if this “early bird crew” hadn’t worked so many long It couldn’t have happened if this “early bird crew” hadn’t worked so many long hours to get the house functioning and spiffed up for opening. Front row: Carolyn Ball, Lynn Wilhite, Jeanne Felknor, Michael Ivey. Back row: Art Nordeen, Julia Margaret Brigham, Debbie and Peter Nordeen.

Later we got to hear memories from all the Burleson siblings: Beth, Julia Margaret Later we got to hear memories from all the Burleson siblings: Beth, Julia Margaret and Michael. They told us about their father, and shared a few memories of meeting Baba themselves.

Dr. Michael Burleson led us on small group tours to see the Prague Municipal Dr. Michael Burleson led us on small group tours to see the Prague Municipal Hospital. He showed us the surgeon’s private office where Baba was placed, and the area where Mehera and Elizabeth were, which at the time, was the only hospital room available.

We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, …and simply to remember.

We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, …and simply to remember.

We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, We went to the place where the collision occurred to pray, sing, place flowers, …and simply to remember.

On the last evening together, we symbolically burned our silent offerings to Baba in On the last evening together, we symbolically burned our silent offerings to Baba in the dhuni fire. May we be worthy of the suffering he underwent for us.

Would you like to visit the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center? Contact information: Avatar Would you like to visit the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center? Contact information: Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center 1319 Barta, NBU 7804 Prague, OK 74864 Phone: (405) 567 -4774 E-Mail: [email protected] net

The Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center was founded in 2002 with the intent to The Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center was founded in 2002 with the intent to facilitate pilgrimage to the areas associated with Meher Baba's accident. This non-profit is simply made up of any and all Baba-lovers who wish to participate.

CREDITS PHOTOGRAPHS • • Slide 3 - © Lawrence Reiter Slides 4, 6, 11 CREDITS PHOTOGRAPHS • • Slide 3 - © Lawrence Reiter Slides 4, 6, 11 and 34 - © Sufism Reoriented Slide 10 - Burleson family Other photos provided by Jean Cassidy, Michael Ivey, Pat Cook and M. Concannon BOOKS • • • Davy, Kitty. Love Alone Prevails: A Story of Life with Meher Baba. Second edition. North Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Foundation, © 2001. Irani, Mehera J. Mehera. East Windsor, NJ: Beloved Books, c 1989. Meher Baba. God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and its Purpose. Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, © 1955.