In 1984 during the first PAT IV trip to the Holy Land with John-Roger, we made a stop in Assisi Italy where, among other things, we took a tour of the Church of St. Francis. Leading our tour was a priest named Father Max who we would later come to love. This was his first experience with us. During the tour he would tell us a joke and was horrified (but delighted) when we laughed at it because of the sacred nature of the church where silent reverence was expected.
While showing us the murals on the walls we came to one which showed the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. On one side of them was John the Beloved and on the other side was St. Francis. According to Father Max the story of the painting was that Jesus was asking Mary who loved him more John or Francis. Mary is depicted as pointing her thumb at St. Francis.
That same evening while walking about the town I came across J-R who was sitting and talking with his staff. I told him about this mural and what Father Max had told us. J-R replied, “St. Francis could afford to love Jesus more. He didn’t have to put up with his bad moods or smell his farts.” It was another example of J-R’s practical wisdom.
As a Polio survivor I was curious what the karmic pattern was. I learned the hard way to be very specific when asking J-R a question. I asked him why I had to have this body. He replied, “Would you rather be an ant or gorilla?”
Sometime around 1976 at our retreat grounds in Lake Arrowhead we had set up an impromptu volleyball court on the cul-de-sac of the entry road. After lunch many people went over to the net to play volleyball. I found myself walking in that direction with J-R beside me. We made small talk as we walked until we reached the edge of the court. We stood and watched the game for a few seconds.
I was content just watching. After all I was no kind of athlete, always the last one chosen for the team, so I had stopped trying. Then suddenly J-R said to me. “Well, I don’t know about you but I’m going to play.” He took two steps and turned around, looked at me, smiled, and said, “And I’m not that good.”
Well, I was busted. I had to get in the game. So he went on one side and I took the other and we played volley ball. I could actually hit the ball. I had fun. It was a moment of emotional healing for me, and I found out that J-R actually was pretty good at volleyball.
In the late 70’s I began to write a novel about a Roman soldier who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. At one point I marched my legionnaire to the top of the desert rock in Judea known as Masada. He was to do garrison duty there. I thought what would he do all day on that hot skillet of a rock? Well, I thought, he would keep himself immersed in water as much as possible, like a Roman bath. I decided where the best place for the bath would be and wrote it down.
Then when we took our first trip to the Holy Land on PAT IV, while in Israel, we climbed to the top of Masada. As part of our tour we were shown the remains of a mosaic which our guide told us was the remains of a Roman bath. I was so excited that I turned to tell the person behind me what I had written. Well, as it turned out the person behind me was J-R. So I told him what I had written and here it was. Then I said, “But in my book I wrote that the bath would be over there,” and I pointed in a northerly direction. J-R said, “Why don’t you go over there and look.” So I did and exactly where I had written that it would be, was another Roman bath.
When we were in Israel, J-R told us that there would be an opportunity for anyone who wanted it to be baptized in the Jordan River. Of course we all wanted to do this. He told us that he would not baptize any of us himself but that members of his staff would do the baptisms. He explained that if he baptized one person then everyone else would want him to baptize them as well.
One night in my room by the Sea of Galilee I opened my Bible and looked to see what it had to say about baptism. I came across John: 4:2 which says, “in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.” The verse became immediately clear to me. Of course Jesus did not baptize because if he did everyone else would want him to baptize them as well. J-R had given the Bible flesh and blood.
In 1973 after perhaps three seminars at the Light Castle and I was sitting near J-R. At that time he passed the microphone around the room and anyone who wanted to could make a ‘contribution’ that could be anything that was on the person’s mind. It was a way of helping people to clear things within and become more attuned and open to the seminar which followed. There were perhaps 50 people in the room and the microphone went around and it seemed to take an eternity for everyone to have their say.
I was a little bored and at one point turned to a friend and made a sort of snide remark about what someone had just shared. When I turned back to the front J-R was looking at me with a very stern look on his face such that I couldn’t hold his gaze. I knew that he was upset with me.
During his seminar he said, to no one in particular, but directly to me, “I have worked very hard to build the energy in this room and I am not about to let you ruin it.” I have always held ‘contributions’ as sacred since that day.