WITH INN, INN SIDE
Bright red roses painted on the front door glass. From the street, you can see them and know something special is going on inside this solidly built old three-story house.
Roses. And a big porch that suggests summer nights of long ago, with brass bands in a nearby park and young men on high-wheeled bicycles. Maybe Mom and Dad will be setting forth on a Sunday outing in the family surrey?
No accident that a hitching post stands unmolested just across the street. No smudgy, faded memories here. This is sharp and bright and here and now. But can it be? Something as soft and inviting and comfortable as this big, old-fashioned house with the bright red roses? Can it be here, in this time, in this city, in this neighborhood?
There it is. Big porch. Rich, warmly welcoming woodwork all around. Everything clean and painted and starchy fresh. A parlor. You're a million light-years from TV dinners and ticky-tacky.
Step through the door and into another world. WHO's world? If you don't know yet, you will.
Someone gently tiptoes down the big staircase, holding out a smile for you to call your own. They're issued here in place of cups marked Sanitized for Your Convenience.
Yes, you can get room and board at the Prem Rose Inn. But, as you'll soon find out, that is almost a sideline. The primary thing that's available here is love. As bright and shining as a big red rose.
The Heart of Premieland
The Prem Rose is located at 1456 Vine Street in Denver's historic Capitol Hill area — or, to put it another way, in the heart of premieland, where you can find the biggest single community of Guru Maharaj Ji's devotees anywhere outside Bihar state in India.
It came together in the fall of 1975. Coincidentally, that was about the same time the fabled Divine Shelter at 1607 Race Street was being phased out. The end of one era and the start of another. There, hundreds — maybe thousands? — of aspirants to truth had stumbled in, crashed, grabbed a square inch of space and lived like divinely inspired sardines while waiting to be initiated into a life called Knowledge.
Exit Shelter. Enter Prem Rose. No, it wasn't to be the same, although a few people wondered if that was the idea.
Here, the plan was for something a little less intense. Premieland needed a hotel.
As often happens in Maharaj Ji's world, there was a certain inevitability to the plan as it unfolded. As Art Evans, the senior member of the household, recalls it, the big old house seemed destined to play a role in the drama — and so did Jim and Patricia Crozier.
At least three times before Art and Jim agreed to go ahead with the scheme, with Art buying the house and Jim and Pat moving in as houseparents, Divine Light Mission had seriously considered acquiring it for various uses.
Once, about a year before the Prem Rose came into being, DLM came close to buying it for virtually the same sort of facility. The Croziers agreed to run it, but the deal didn't jell. Later, Jim was on the verge of be coming an apartment building manager when Art told him to take a look at the scheme he was hatching. This time, it happened.
In August of that year, the Croziers moved in, along with Tally Sorenson and Dave Powell. Art came soon after.
Those five have been there ever since, acting as hosts and hostesses to more than 1,100 of their brothers and sisters in the family of love. Some have stayed for hours, others for months, but all have shared something which stayed with them when they left.
"It's amazing," Jim said recently. "I go to a festival now and so many people look familiar to me. Somebody will come up to me and say, 'Don't you remember? I helped you wash the dishes that night!' "
The guest list has included people who had many different reasons for visiting, or moving to, Denver.
About half, Jim says, have either been aspirants or premies who lived in other places and were drawn to Denver by its far-flung reputation as the "big apple" of premie communities.
For some who have been drawn to Denver with unrealistic expectations, the transition can be difficult.
But, for many, it is a truly beautiful chance to join in and blossom with a giant concentration of premie energy. For those who experience this, the Prem Rose is the gateway to a more focused life.
"I see people months on down the line," says Jim. "It's beautiful to watch someone come, see a portion of their life that's unfilled, then watch them get connected. They start doing service, get a job, find a place to live and meet other premies. It's difficult, sometimes, but it's beautiful."
Parents of premies, visiting ashram premies, delegates to conferences. The Prem Rose has housed community coordinators from all over the U.S., and another group from abroad, when they came for weeklong conferences. Another time, when Unity School hosted many of the far-flung teacher trainees from the Shri Hans Educational project, they stayed there, too.
And not always premies. Sometimes those who ring the bell are drawn there by … who knows? Maybe the roses. Sometimes they go elsewhere after the point where Jim or Tally tells them the basic aims of the house.
"If they're not premies, I explain a little about Guru Maharaj Ji — and that, besides providing shelter, the purpose is to provide an environment for people to go a little deeper into the experience of Knowledge. Room and board is secondary."
Anyone who likes that proposition is welcome to stay, but the ones who already know about it usually send their message wordlessly up the stairs before the people who run the place can answer the door.
"I can walk down the stairs and just feel the premies there," Jim explains.
Some are only passing through. They may have a week or two to see the Denver community and they're off again.
"One of the most beautiful things," Art commented recently, "has been that we have had a steady stream
coming through. Here we're kind of sitting at the confluence. It is beautiful to have the living waters pass by and share their consciousness as they do so."
As Art notes, the beauty of the old house and the way it has come alive at the hands of its loving tenants is part of what weaves its way into the lives of those who visit there.
Home, Sweet Home
"Many comment on the plants, and the fact there are plants in each room. They say it so much like home, that they feel very comfortable here."
Sometimes they are the parents of premies, using a vacation period to get a closer glimpse at the sometimes puzzling lifestyle which their children have chosen. Others are the friends or the brothers and sisters of a premie whose satsang has been the only link they've had with Maharaj Ji's world.
But things change constantly in that world and, as beautiful as the stream of living waters has been, the Prem Rose is changing, too. As other communities have grown larger and stronger, and as more and more premies realize that it isn't where you go on the outside, but whether you keep going inside that really counts, the flow of visitors has begun to taper off.
Meanwhile, the roses have done their magic on so
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