Myrna Smith - Being in the Presence of Love

Being in the Presence of Love: Zdenko Arsenijvevic 

When Zdenko Arsenijevic spoke to me across his desk that first time in 2006, I felt bathed in love. How he conveyed such love I am not sure. Maybe it was those sparkling eyes, that golden voice, that lovely smile, or an unnamable essence that came from his heart. I had recently returned from a long stay in India and was looking to continue my spiritual pursuits. More urgently, I wanted help with some health issues people often experience after traveling in India that, in my case, traditional medicine seemed unable to resolve. I began going to alternative healers and ended up at the Arsenijevic Healing Center then in Philadelphia and now in Doylestown, Pa. As we talked, I realized not all great spiritual teachers live in India. 

During the year I attended Zdenko’s classes, I saw him in a variety of settings: as a teacher, a healer and a father. He wasn’t always gentle; he seemed to sense when people needed reminders of their issues. I am very puritanical, especially around time. (He had a very different view of time from me.) When I would leave at the time an event was scheduled to be over, he would gently needle me with a comment like, “Myrna has more important things to do.” One of his assistants would try to anticipate his needs and do something like turn up or down the lights, and he would say, “There she goes, trying to control everything.” 

He healed some people, and he did temporarily relieve me of my symptoms. For me he seemed to be more successful over the phone than in person. But I loved the in-person healing sessions because of the heightened energy I felt. 

Zdenko’s son—the boy’s mother still lived in Serbia—came into the office frequently. Zdenko just glowed over him. When the son wanted to go to a movie Zdenko feared might not be appropriate for his age, he would go to a late showing just to check it out and then take his son later if he approved. 

I also saw that he had extraordinary perception. In one class, we worked on perceiving the different energies of color. To practice we placed regular playing cards upside down on a table and had to determine whether each was a red or a black card. Zdenko and his student Donna LeRoy, who teaches healing with color, could determine every card. 

I attended classes for a year before the long commute to Philadelphia became too much. During that time, I watched him work with people, demonstrating that perfect love and acceptance I had seen with Tapoguna Maharaj and Swami Muktananda in India. Recently, when my book came out, I reconnected with Zdenko and have joined his Monday night webinar meditations. 

He starts by settling us in - by inviting us to watch our breaths. On one particular night, he told us to see our thoughts as clouds, to note that they are there and then let them pass through our minds without judgment. His message concurred with that of the great spiritual traditions: pay attention to the mind, but don’t get trapped by it. The words, of course, were important, but hearing his velvet voice reminded me of the love he conveys to his students and clients. 

About the Author: 

Myrna J. Smith held a faculty position in the English Department at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, N.J., from 1970-2004, where she took leave for two and a half years to serve as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning housed at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She received a Ed.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J. Smith also had two Mid-Career Fellowships to attend Princeton University, one in English and one in religion. Smith, who was 74 years old when she published her memoir, now resides in Frenchtown, N.J, a small town on the Delaware River. 

She recently returned from a five-week trip to Asia: two weeks with a small group to Myanmar and a few days in Hong Kong, where she has friends, and Vietnam for 10 days. The year before Smith traveled to Thailand and Cambodia and the year before that to Indonesia, both with small groups. She also travels in Canada and the northeast U.S. with her sister, brother, and their spouses most years. 

About God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love: 

Myrna Smith opens her story one Sunday night when she returns home from a ski weekend with her three children. While she was on the slopes, her husband had moved out. That had been the plan. 

Yet her story, though it encompasses her divorce, is much larger. Ultimately, Smith sets out to love herself, to find an inner place where she can rest and grow. 

In this search-for-the-holy-grail memoir, Smith traces her travels toward enlightenment as a middle-aged American woman with a wry humor and heartfelt longing. On the journey, she discovers spiritual fulfillment doesn’t come easily, or all at once. For her, it is quite elusive. 

The quest really started, she realizes, in her childhood on an Oregon farm where she and her older sister were once “converted” in their father’s pea patch by two young Bible summer school teachers barely out of their teens. The school was part of the tiny church their mother attended while their father stayed home, read Edgar Cayce books, and mused on reincarnation. 

Later, drawn by the mysticism of the Hindus, Smith’s journey leads to Bangalore where she touches the robes of Sai Baba, the Indian saint. Back home in New Jersey, she finds herself in a country farm- house getting prescriptions channeled through a medium for every- thing from her back woes and diarrhea to an obsession with money. 

She also writes of the demons that surface during a years-long love affair with her beloved Charlie and what A Course in Miracles stirred within her. 

Smith’s story is one of adventure and effort that, in the end, reveals three simple yet essential truths that are both the journey and the destination.  

God and Other Men is available in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and Indie Bound.


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