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Robert and I were invited to accompany Sant Keshavadas (The Singing Saint) on a tour of India. We visited endless temples, prowled the cities, viewed the countryside and sat with local gurus. Then we sojourned to Nepal and spent a week in Kashmir in a Skikara (houseboat), floating among the lotus flowers on Dal Lake in Srinagar.
One of the highlights of our excursion was an audience with St. Teresa at her orphanage in Calcutta. On that sweltering afternoon, when not even a leaf twitched, a group of earnest American devotees stood at attention. Crowded together in a gray room, we listened mesmerized, to this diminutive holy woman, wrapped in blue and white cotton robes.
St. Teresa was a powerhouse of energy, an invincible force, both intimidating and intoxicating. There was nothing extraneous about her. Her authentic no-nonsense-love-in-action approach to life was an inspiration.
When a young man from Chicago asked St. Teresa how he could help her cause in India, she sternly replied: “Go home and find out if someone in your neighborhood is in need. Are they lonely, hungry, wanting? Help your immediate family and your community before you travel the world looking for a mission.”
We were embarrassed by the simplicity of her words and galvanized. Slapped by the obvious nature of truth, our group filed out in silent awe. Full of hope and good intentions, we felt the impossible was within our grasp. We could change the world by knocking on our neighbor’s door and listening with open hearts and willingness.