I arrived in Ann Arbor, MI recently. Before coming, I had discovered Atmaram through a google search for "kirtan" and "bhakti." After e-mailing him, he called to invite me over to his home for dinner and kirtan. What a delightful surprise! He plays the harmonium and drum, and his Teacher is Muktananda. I was deeply moved by the energy of his beautiful raga version of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and told him so. Atmaram and I are soul brothers. His heart is filled with tenderness and his knowledge very deep. I feel his love even now. Never had I been so warmly welcomed, particularly by someone I had just met. We ate together, played together, and discussed form, formlessness, and the guru. His dog, Mocha, was just as enthusiastic about the whole event. It is said that during the Golden Age, one could travel across the country and one would not need to be concerned with food or shelter. Everyone would take care of you and provide everything you need just like family. This visit with Atmaram took me back to the Golden Age.
I visited Uncle Ted, Aunt Madolyn, and Lizzie in Ann Arbor. They opened their home to me for at least 5 days, and we bonded together. For every topic or question I had for Uncle Ted, he had a story to share his wisdom. I love stories. Aunt Madolyn made sure I was comfortable. She has the divine mother energy. Lizzie has an intelligence beyond her years, and she thinks in poetry!
One morning, I was doing yoga on a mat in the back yard just at the border of the neighbor's yard. I wore a jacket with a black hood as it was cool outside. When I came in, Uncle said, "Our neighbor just called. He warned me about a person in the back yard doing yoga in a black hoodie! Then I looked outside and told him it was just my nephew and everything was going to be alright."
For the rest of my stay, many times I would laugh out loud, thinking about the neighbor's warning. Watch out for the yogi in the black hoodie!