12. Free lunch at San Clemente
It was Wednesday 20/4, the day I took half-communion at St. Mary's-by- the-Sea, Huntington Beach. That same morning I had taken a few photos in a shop window. Read on and be amazed, how they came back to me on the morning of writing over 5 months later. That day I had arranged an appointment to see a man south of LA in San Clemente.
San Clemente is about as far south as you can go, before leaving the greater LA area.
It took me over two hours by bus. The person I visited, letís call him Dean, was originally from Adelaide. I did not know Dean personally, but knew what he looked like from Christian literature, which he wrote and distributed.
One morning, weeks before my USA trip, I was watching the Hour of Power on the television. Among the hundreds in the congregation I thought I recognized Dean's face and white hair. This observation prompted me to email him. He confirmed that there was a good possibility it was him I saw at the Crystal Cathedral service. There was little else said between us and I soon forgot the incident.
Going back a further few months, I had seen him on a current affairs television program; not merely a glimpse, but he had an issue in a matter to do with superannuation. At the time my suspicion antenna rose. Why did Dean, a distributor of Gospel literature, go on a current affairs program telling his case? Something didnít add up.
This prompted me to contact the Australian office of his organisation. I went to see them in an Eastern suburb of Adelaide. The abbreviated name of Dean's organisation includes the letters C and T. The address was Provident Street. My coded mind had started ticking over. Was this the organisation, which would provide contacts in the USA or assist in any way to find home?
I had a half-hour talk with the Adelaide representative, who was very friendly and a close friend of Dean. He was very polite and kind, most people were toward me, but I was looking for a higher level of communication, someone who spoke my language and who really understood my message. But who could do this, without having followed events and my subsequent interpretation?
After leaving his office on Providence Street I crossed to get into my Suzuki, parked in a small side street opposite. Only then I noticed the name - Home Street! It really made me think - was this a stepping stone to finally finding my way home? I felt like turning back and and telling him about Home Street. Would he understand? (Read the 'home' twist at the end of the chapter).
The street names were not the only Da Ninci teasing my sensitive, observing brain. Dean, the person I had seen on TV, the one I was going to have lunch with in San Clemente, had a 5-letter-surname. It was a classic - my story in 5 letters: N in (is) it.
The further south the bus went, the more stunning the views became - the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean on one side; wild, steep hillsides on the other. What would be waiting for me at San Clemente? Had Dean read any of my autobiography? Did he understand my complex thinking? If anyone, it was this man, a mature Christian and author, who would listen to what I had to say.
I was surprised how easy it had been to get hold of this busy man. We had arranged that I phone him as soon as I get off the bus. Within minutes after my call, Dean had arrived and took me in his 4-wheel-drive (RV) to the San Clemente Pier Restaurant.
Wed 20/4/05, St. Clemente Pier Restaurant. Dean on the right.
We found a vacant table outside in the bright sunshine. Dean suggested I try a local specialty - Clam Chowder, a rich, delicious soup, obviously made from Clams.
This was fine with me.
I learned of Dean's life, his early training as a Pentecostal Pastor, but later switched to the Baptist persuasion of worshipping. We chatted about his work and mine, his story and mine. Until then I had not known about his earlier, personal struggles back in Australia. He had walked into the valley of despair and came out stronger at the other end. (More on that in a moment).
During the conversation, it appeared that he had not read any on my story online, or simply didn't want to steer the conversation in that direction. This was fine with me. Or was it? I had honestly believed that people, even in the US, had read about my case, especially since I had been down that path before. Why did nobody want to talk about what I thought was important - a theophany, God showing himself to the world through incredible circumstances?
I gently hinted that God was doing something extra-ordinary in and through my life. But to fully explain it, where would I start? Did Dean sense that I was reluctant to talk about the supernatural? Was I terrified of treading that path? Not afraid of treading the path of the magic, but trying to convince others that it's all true and I am normal.
Was I afraid of a long, dark road ahead? Would I also have to walk (again) through the valley of the shadow of death? Could it mean tasting more than just the shadow of death, but the real thing?
A photo with a story. The more I looked, the more I saw:
I must have had a Da Ninci moment, when I took this photo in Santa Ana, near the corner Fruit Ave. Two years earlier on that corner I had caught up with Richard, the man I followed to the train station, ending up in Riverside.
Can you see it? Love won! EN IN - FT ahead! Do not block He in T section! NO stopping (HIM) any time!
My free lunch lasted about 1 1/4 hours. Dean dropped me at the library, from where I sent some emails, before catching a bus back up the coast.
As I stood on the bus stop waiting, the struggle of this long and lonely journey really hit home. How silly that we can have millions of people all around us and still feel alone. Surely there must be one person who thinks like me, who would listen and understand? At that bus stop I felt it. I was alone.
During the long track north to return to not-sure-where, I thought about Dean and our lunch conversation. The clue, however, only came to me much later, after I had returned to Australia. If there had been a coded message for me during our lunch, then I think I had eaten it.
Please don't accuse me of searching out codes, or even creating them. This was not my style. I had never even heard of clam chowder, let alone tried and invent it? Here is how I looked at the name of the seafood soup:
Clam - see Lam; Chowder Ė See how (is) he D? (Remember - er means he in German). What had I stumbled across that kept following me, wherever I went?
Following this discovery I looked again at the name San Clemente. Clemente starts with see L and ends in te; and men in between. Wasn't the registration plate I saw in 5th Street in Long Beach SAN?
To this day I do not know, if my mind was simply playing games with itself or if Dean knew my code and put quite a bit of thought into our lunch meeting. If this was so, then I think my next trail of thought, a concept far outside the square, needs considering.
Dean had told me quite openly about leaving his wife, whom he was married to for many years. She had suffered from depression, which was getting worse and worse. He had tried everything to make life bearable, to be able to continue the international work God had called him to.
To make the long story short, Dean did not succeed in Australia to live a reasonable, normal life with his wife. They moved to her native US, where he struggled for another eight years as his wife's mental condition worsened. Eventually their relationship ended in divorce. As expected Dean suffered much from condemnation by puritan, dogmatic church leaders. Now, some years later, he is happily married again and is busy as ever in his world-wide Gospel ministry.
It came to me early on the morning of writing (Sept. 25, 2005). Was Dean trying to tell me, it's OK to leave your wife, if she stands in the way of you accomplishing God's will in your life? I had felt for a number of years that my wife was holding me back. I felt I was being kept a prisoner inside a narrow-minded, short-sighted, inside the box thinking view of the world. The slogan - another co-incident, so what?
I was not suffering in the same, physical way Dean had been. However, my frustration at home at times was reaching an unbearable level. On the one hand I was sure God had called me to write my life story, about HIS goodness and love, about the magic HE was working everyday. I even dared to believe that people were changing their ways and taking God more seriously, because I encouraged readers to do so.
To be regarded as a mentally unstable husband, who neglects his family responsibilities, who is wasting hours in front of the P/C screen blogging, I found increasingly insulting and frustrating. To stay inspired and productive in the face of constant opposition, took much persistence and prayer.
Ever since my eldest son Ben moved back in with us in late May 05, I am reminded almost every day, what course of action I ought to take. (It's not fair - the word tablet is such a nice word).
My eldest son Ben, 30 and his partner, Liz.
Above line of thinking (that Dean might have subtly suggested, I should consider leaving my wife) came to me in the early hours of this morning. Watching a Christian TV program, two people were interviewed by a well-known Minister from Sydney. The two artists were talking about a project, depicting the Revelations of St. John on 20 panels, each 3m X 5 m in size. The first young man was called Rob (Hi Rob!).
His surname was the same as the goalkeeper of the indoor-soccer team I had played with for 12 years. (Less than four weeks ago I was in Sydney, visiting the Minister's large City Church, but didn't make contact. (Another story baking).
The second man's name, however, may have held the major part of the message I was reading, rightly or wrongly, I honestly do not know. His surname was Parris. He was the painter of the project. Parr is needs only an exchange of the r with t and I read part is. (Is equals Isobel for short).
Was I given this subtle message: Keep your eyes on the goal - part with Is! Just writing this stirs my Spirit. Every fiber in my being is screaming at me - No, No, No ...! How could I claim that love will win her over in the end and not see it through? Perhaps, this time I will need to pay the ultimate price myself, not somebody called Bob?
I made another observation on TV this morning, watching the the Hour of Power. I had not watched it in about 4 weeks or more ( a visitor had slept in the room). What my mind opened up to was pure magic and mind boggling at the same time. To make it easier to follow my thinking I repeat the photo from Chapter 10.
The final musical item on the Hour of Power, preceding the sermon, was a gentle song by a lady named C. Clawson. I saw a similarity in that name and the photo I took at Huntington Beach 5 months earlier. It clearly shows the letters CLAW and the number 1.
Here comes the twist - CLAWONE - CLAWSON, the difference - the letters ES. (You already know what it means in German!)
But there's more: Mrs. Clawson sang a favourite song of many older Christians. The lyrics match perfectly: Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home... Remember, the title of the book in the shop window (on same page in Chapter 10)? It's time for your comeback!
This did not happen per chance! An intelligent mind is at work. God is a Master planner!
I crawled back to bed at 6 am. My wife of 34 years was asleep beside me. Would it not be easier for her to wake up and come home? Just the thought of ever leaving her, leaving home, was too painful to dwell on. I'd rather die for her, if this was the key to unlocking her closed mind.
It happened before.