by SS Meher Kaur Khalsa, Phoenix AZ
“When I say patience pays, that’s what it is. In absolute patience you always shall believe, you always shall see, you always shall realize the Word of the Guru comes handy to you. Man cannot live with you. Guru Nanak is not living with us in physical body, but in Subtle Body, in the Shabad Guru, Nanak is always with us. When we obey the commands, when we live in the Rehit, when we live in the Maryada, when we live in the Akal Moorat, that is our homage to the acknowledgement of Guru Nanak.”—The Siri Singh Sahib
This quote from the Siri Singh Sahib is especially appropriate in considering the saga of building a new Gurdwara by the Phoenix Sadh Sangat of Guru Nanak Dwara. The Phoenix 3HO/Sikh Dharma community began in 1971. Over the years, our numbers grew and we found ourselves outgrowing our present Gurdwara.
In mid-1994, we began the journey towards creating a new Gurdwara. There were Sangat surveys, community meetings, and committee meetings. We had to address financial challenges, philosophical disagreements, building and parking regulations. All the challenges required a strong spirit and a lot of faith to push past some formidable obstacles.
In the history of most great construction projects, there comes a time when people don’t really feel it will ever get done. That certainly happened with us in the Phoenix community. For many years the building site lay dormant, with a construction fence around it.
During this time, while driving around town I would often find myself tempted to knock on the doors of churches and ask how they managed to complete their building with their congregation intact. I felt that the Guru would not allow us to move forward without a true spirit of unity in our community. I felt our subtle bodies were not in alignment.
A Spirit of Resolution
But God is merciful, Guru is kind, and Sangat is powerful. A new Sikh Dharma of Phoenix Board was appointed in 2009. This Board began the process of restarting the construction process.
We were also blessed to have help from the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, who appointed a sub-committee to focus on Phoenix in 2012. We hired a new architectural company that was experienced in dealing with non-profit organizations.
There were opportunities for the community to come together and bring their questions and concerns directly to the architects. There were more family meetings, where we came together with a new spirit of resolution to finish the Gurdwara.
We were able to secure new financing and Sangat members stepped up with contributions and fundraising. Weekly updates on construction progress were sent out. During a recent tour of the new Gurdwara, people were moved and inspired by the progress that had been made and in awe of the beauty and power embodied in this sacred place.
With all these blessings, by Guru’s Grace, by Guru Nanak’s birthday in November, this community will open its doors to a magnificent Gurdwara—one that is truly a manifestation of the unity and cooperation of all elements of our community, in its determination, generosity, and Chardi Kala spirit that have come together to create a living embodiment of Guru Nanak in the world today.
About the Author
SS Meher Kaur Khalsa is an ordained Sikh Dharma Minister since 1978 and serves the Office of the Secretary of Religion as the Regional Minister Coordinator for Arizona. She has been a student of the Siri Singh Sahib since 1973, living in the ashram communities of Ottawa, Toronto, New Haven, Connecticut, and Phoenix, Arizona, where she has lived since 1981. Meher Kaur has served on the 3HO Summer Solstice staff for many years, heading up the Watermelon Serving Team. She and her husband, SS Soul Singh, have hosted Guru Ram Das Chanting in their home every Friday night for the past 21 years. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician, working with several animal shelters, and blessing animals at various events.