Give, In Order To Get Back

Posted by Jyoti on Jan 10, 2019
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During the recent Christmas holidays, I decided to write up my experience of everyday kindness I experienced earlier in the fall term while at work, as a professor at a Catholic Liberal Arts College. It was an act of appreciation for the joys my job brings into my life and a way to amplify what I value by bringing attention to it. I value community and like the way Nipun Bhai articulates it as 'We before Me' and encourages small acts of kindness. I shared the note with my colleague, Brother Charles, a history professor, and director of the Cummings Institute. Bishop Cummings served Oakland for 25 years and this institute named after him is one of the ways the college promotes dialog between faith and reason. Brother Charles said he would share my note with the editorial team for the Institute blog to possibly see if might be for their audience.

At the heart of our college campus is a beautiful chapel. It has been there for eighty plus years. It anchors us all as a community, as the academic buildings spread around it in the mission style architecture with red-tiled roofs, and an expansive lawn with ancient trees bordering it marks the front. Earlier this week, at the start of the new term, we learned that someone had vandalized the beautiful chapel. Inside, the items were strewn about, sacred oils were mixed into the font containing Holy Water, and candle holders were bent. The chapel had to be closed for repairs. The news landed like a personal blow for most of us on campus who adore the chapel. It made me terribly sad that someone would wreak destruction on a peaceful sanctuary that has been my refuge on days that I needed a calm space and a place for celebrations on festive days.

The day after the news of the chapel being vandalized, I woke up to an email with a link to the Cummins Institute blog, saying it was written by me, and that it ends in our beautiful Chapel. It had been several days since I wrote the article and at the time of writing it, my main focus was NOT my adoration for the Chapel (Note to self: Write one). To be reminded of my own story, now read in a fresh light shed on it by the editors and the timing of it, all helped to lift my spirits. In giving away the story, I had not imagined that it would give back, to me. It reminded me that there was still a community around me that shared my grief, and helped me to let go of the sadness from the malicious action of one or few. Give, to get back is another one of Nipun Bhai's mantras and how it came true. Perhaps, even for the vandals, the Chapel had inadvertently proved to be the 'peaceful sanctuary' where they could release their anger and hate. I pray that they find peace and reconnect with their ability to appreciate the beauty around them.

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