My poetic short story, “Luz and Corazón,” is now available online in Issue 3 of Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality & the Arts.
Northeastern University’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service hosted a launch party at 7 p.m. ET. A trip from Los Angeles to Boston would not have been feasible, so I am grateful to have been able to attend via Zoom.
Co-editors Alexander Levering-Kern and Jayla Tillison introduced the event, and Alexander asked that we observe a moment of silence and that we send our love to our fellow beings across the planet. At that moment, I closed my eyes and traveled back in time to when I was sitting at one of the small wooden desks popular in 1990s university classrooms.
The air smelled like when professors were still using chalk on blackboards, and I was sitting, listening to, and observing Willard Johnson, my Religious Studies professor at San Diego State University. He was a type of human being that I had not yet encountered. He had a Ph.D. in Sanskrit, he meditated, he personally knew and invited as guest lecturers many Native American authors, he was himself a prolific author, and I could palpably sense that he truly saw me. His way of seeing me projected me onto a future in which I sensed that I could belong.
At the time, what Professor Johnson talked about in his classes was highly mysterious to me. My English skills still left much to be desired, and the subject matters he was introducing me to were completely foreign to a French girl educated in France where religious studies was not an academic discipline. And yet, by the time I signed up for my first class with Professor Johnson, I had already undergone two near-death experiences, and I was about to drop out of an American University system that, just like the French university system, had provided no answers to my need to understand why I had been born and what I was supposed to do with my life.
Even though Religious Studies was not my major, Professor Johnson became my thesis advisor. More than that, he left a lifelong imprint on my development as a human being. His book Riding the Ox Home: A History of Meditation from Shamanism to Science, is the book I would take with me on a deserted island. How I wish that Professor Johnson were still alive today!
I dedicate “Luz and Corazón” to him.