Ten years ago, because of a Social Justice theology class, I got to know Melissa Banerjee, a Bengali-American. It made sense to me to give her a hardback edition of the The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Later on, after staying several weeks in India, she brought back to me Letters of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s foremost disciple. Melissa inscribed the book this way: “Dr C., Hope this brings you a small ‘piece’ of the peace I experienced at Sri Ramakrishna’s Mission and Math at Belur, Kolkata.”
This selection of Vivekananda’s letters range from 1888 to 1902, and address members of his community as well as Westerners eager to learn more about Indian spirituality. The following is a small sample of passages I noted of the swami’s observations, advice, exhortation, and insight…
On the Buddha: His greatness lies in his unrivaled sympathy. 18
Have faith in yourselves, great convictions are the mothers of great deeds. 64
Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance, the difference between soul and soul is due to the difference in density of these layers of clouds. 69 Read the rest of this entry »
A couple years ago, Andrew Long suggested to one of his Barat Academy students that she read The Book of Mev. So she did. And through social media we got in touch. She just finished her first year at George Washington University, and it has been a delight to have visits and exchange correspondence with Liz Burkemper.
Last September, Brendan, and Jen, friends whom I had in Social Justice class years ago at SLU, told me that he had been diagnosed with malignant metastatic melanoma. The other day, Jen sent me the following text: “We just found out that Brendan’s full body CT scan done on Tuesday was normal—so no signs of cancer 12 weeks into treatment and 6 months after his surgery!”
At Amazon.com, I see that my friend Jason Makansi’s novel, The Moment Before, will be out in November. It’s about “a woman and her beloved Syrian father, separated forty years earlier when he is swept up in a geopolitical odyssey from hell, are almost reunited by a lawyer struggling to save his Illinois hometown from financial ruin.” I read a gripping draft of it this past summer, and I am pumped to facilitate a reading group of his book this fall.
We were eating dinner when there was a short knock at the door. Whose knock was it—Charlene? Davion? Andrew? Joanie answered the door, and it was Chelsea Jaeger! She lives several houses up the block, and I told her just the other day I was out walking and composing a postcard in my mind to her. We had a catch up chat over the next twenty minutes. She’s been one of my teachers since we had an Honors Freshman class at SLU in 2010. Wise beyond her years, she’s now at the Brown School of Social Work. They’re lucky to have her in their midst.