It was 1972 late Spring and we had just returned from Europe. With the small amount of money we had, an apartment was extremely difficult to find. One day we found an “attic apartment” in an old wooden house in Evanston, IL. When we investigated, my eyes lit up. One large room with kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator at one end. There was a small bathroom to the left, and a tiny bedroom next to the empty section of the main room. The landlord was a bit ashamed to show it and lowered the rent a bit more. His son and daughter lived below and they usually had a student rent this attic. “Sorry it isn’t clean or painted, but usually the kids just destroy it if it looks good!”
The next few weeks were spent working as a secretary/typist at Spiritual Fellowship in Evanston and cleaning the attic. Mom gave us our old bed, kitchen ware, and linens and we were off. I wanted to make a nice place for the new Doctor of Theology, knowing that we would be safe as soon as Fall teaching at the university began. As I got my small salary, we shopped for food and then paint. I managed to get the landlord to pay for the new “fake wood” tile floor as long as we laid it. I sewed curtains and divided the large room into two with a “beaded” curtain made from painted noodles on string hanging from the ceiling. Shellacked pages of old Dutch newspapers made wonderful wallpaper in the bathroom, and the two large toy boxes that we constructed from press board and decorated with fitted cushions served as a fine sofa under the eaves. We loved our little place; it held much joy for us.
By late summer Justin was often at Loyola University meeting old friends, working in the library, and preparing for Fall classes. One day he told me about a seminar that was being offered in Wisconsin by a saint from the Himalayas. Swami Rama was his name. Justin had seen posters for the seminar for weeks; he had strong dreams about numbers these days, which seemed to confuse him, and he felt he should attend. We could not afford both of us so I insisted I would be fine and he must go, especially since he was offered a free ride! As the weekend approached, I got a severe cold and was forced to stay in bed. As I sneezed and coughed, unable to keep down the soup Justin brought me, he decided that he should stay home to take care of me. “Absolutely not!” I managed to cough out, “you have to go to this seminar after all the signals! By the way, what’s it about?”
He blushed and stammered out the word “Healing” as I pushed him out the door.
When he returned he was a different man. So full of life, so happy, so sure of himself, such spring in his step. He went to see the Swami again the next night, and again the one after that. The weekend held a visit out to the farm where the swami stayed. Of course I could not say no to his frequent questions of “Will you mind if I go . . . ?” but my own mind wondered if it was truly an old Indian saint that was intriguing my tall, dark, handsome husband.
“What if I go with you tonight?” I answered.
“Wonderful!” was his enthusiastic reply.
The road to Barrington seemed far out of the city.
Swami Rama on How to Sit
Swamiji said at the house of a student, “Sit up, Tree! You are not weak; don’t sit like a weak person. Sit like this!”
He threw his arms up over the back of the sofa, crossed one leg over the other, and threw his head back. I tried my best, following his example. I pulled my skirt down carefully, crossed my legs, and tried to move my arms to the sofa top. But my body could not reach it. So I grasped the top of the sofa with both hands, arms spread out.
Justin and Hasmukh looked embarrassed for me. Justin told me later that I looked nearly crucified, but Swamiji nodded and said, “That’s better. Be strong! Always be strong!” and then changed the subject.
I was finally relieved when Nina came to the door and announced dinner.