At the conclusion of level two at what was now
called Summit University, I was invited home for the co-op period with a fellow
student and friend named L.B. who was a true blue student of
the masters from Sioux City, Iowa. She was about fifteen years older than
me and had two sons who lived in Sioux City. We found a ride from Spokane
to Sioux City with someone who had been at the conference. I took L.B. up
on her invitation because I did not want to go back to my old house, job and
life after level two.
L.B.'s family were fine, middle class people.
Sioux City was a city of about 80,000. I thought living in a small
city would be sort of an adventure. We settled into living with Leolaís
parents in their nice, older two-storey home that was a lot like my momís
house. The only job I could find was waitressing at Howard Johnsonís
working odd hours. I had done waitress work during high school and college
and it was not something I relished.
After about two weeks at Howard Johnsonís my
old job at the phone company started to look real good. Also, I found that
small town living had its drawbacks. I got on the bus one day to go to
work and the bus driver knew I was staying with L.B.ís family! I am a
private person and I donít like it when strangers know my business. So
all things considered, I soon left L.B. and went home to Denver for the
remainder of the co-op period. When I got back home it was so refreshing
to walk down the street in Denver and be anonymous.
By now, my intensity and fanaticism had begun to
tone down a bit. I wasnít as fanatical about diet or decrees or watching
TV. I even wore black slacks to work!
I did not contact the local group in Denver
during that co-op period but I did develop a friendship with a Keeper of the
Flame there by the name of Faith. I had met her at my first conference on
the Land of Lanello and she and I had shared a motel room at the Easter
conference at the outset of level two at AMU/SU.
Faith was about my age and married to a man who had no
interest in the teachings. She was torn between having a family or
leaving her husband to dedicate her life totally to the masters. She chose
to stay with her husband and subsequently had some children. Faith was
very devoted to being a Keeper. She had gotten another person interested
in the teachings and we all used to get together to decree once in a while.
I was fond of Faith. We had many long
talks. One time she told me that she had heard that when Mrs. Prophet had
joined TSL she had to choose between her first marriage and joining Mark Prophet
to serve the masters. I was surprised to hear the story because in the two
levels I had been at SU, Mrs. Prophet had never mentioned that she had ever been
married before she met Mark Prophet. At the time, I thought what Faith had
heard was an untrue story. Faith greatly admired Mrs. Prophet for making
the choice she did.
During that co-op period following level two at
SU, I had to make a big decision. All my life, I have always loved the
military. I was thinking of returning to school for my degree and
joining ROTC. I was approaching twenty-four years oldóthe cutoff age for
ROTC. I felt a pull to join the military. I loved the
discipline and purpose. Anything to do with WWII fascinates me to this
day. I had to choose between TSL and the Navy. I thought about it
for several weeks. It was a difficult choice for me. I believed the
messenger was the representative of God on earth. What could be higher
than serving her and her mission? I chose TSL.
Today with 20/20 hindsight, if I had to choose
again, I would choose the military. Not pursuing a military career is one
of the main regrets of my life. I wonder sometimes how my life would have
been different if I had taken that path. I would have made a good naval
officer. If I had taken that path, today I would have a real profession--and a
pension!Öbut I am getting ahead of myself.
Level three of SU was postponed for several
months. During that time, I did not get anything from TSL except
conference announcements. I could not afford to attend conferences and
also save for SU. I was saving enough money for levels three, four and
five of SU because I did not want to come home again on a co-op period. It
was too easy to fall back into my old ways. I needed a new environment.
I had to work hard at home to maintain my
devotion schedule and sense of connection to TSL. At one point, I wrote
out a formal vows ceremony and made a pilgrimage to Cabrini Shrine outside of
Denver for a private commitment ceremony. I pledged my life and full
devotion to the masters and the will of God for me.
The Cabrini Shrine is a wonderful place in the
foothills west of Denver where Mother Cabrini had touched a rock and water had
gushed out. To this day water still flows and you can fill your own
bottles with as much as you want. There is a convent, beautiful chapel and
gardens and a walk up a hill with stations of the cross along the way that leads
to a 33-foot statue of Christ overlooking all of the Denver metropolitan area.
At the base of the statue are a group of little rocks outlining the Sacred Heart
of Jesus that Mother Cabrini herself positioned there. It is a place of
great peace and back then one of my favorite places to go. It was a
comfort to my Catholic soul.
During the co-op period, I did make a couple of
journeys to LaTourelle to listen to tapes. On one trip I heard the album
from the fall conference of 1974 (Voyages of Discovery) which I had missed.
I spent the whole day in the family room listening to tapes and taking copious
notes. Marla Bray was the receptionist and she set me up with tapes.
Marla was so nice.
When I arrived one morning at LaTourelle, the
staff were in the process of doing a Pearls mailing. There were long
tables set up with all the staff stuffing envelopes and other staff filling
trays to take to the post office. It was a great flurry of activity.
I was so impressed seeing all the staff working so hard.
In November of 1974, L.B. called me from Sioux
City and said she had been asked to join TSL staff in Colorado Springs as a
secretary. She was coming to Denver on the train from Iowa and wondered if
she could stay over at my house for a night on her way through. I found
out from Leola that the big Summit Lighthouse summer conference in 1975 was
being held in Shasta, California. I also found out that a three-month
period of staff service was a prerequisite for level three of SU. Level
three was scheduled to begin in September.
With the date set for third level to begin, I
made plans to quit my job and head for three months of staff service in Colorado
Springs. I timed it to the day. I quit my job and departed for
The day I left for Colorado
Springs was a bright, sunny Saturday--Flag DayóJune 14, 1975. It
was hard to leave home because I knew I would never live there again. My
mom and sister and I had all weathered some tough times together in that house
and I felt the sadness of closing that chapter in my life. I took a late
morning Greyhound bus to Colorado Springs and arrived about noon.
When I arrived at the bus station in Colorado
Springs, I called LaTourelle to tell them I was at the bus station. They
knew I was coming. K. S. was on phone duty.
K.S. told me that staff were out on Saturday
afternoon doing errands but she would find someone who could come and get me.
I sat down to wait at the station and saw a woman whom I recognized from TSL.
I had seen her at the service at LaTourelle that my mom and I had attended just
before I went to level one at SU. The ladyís name was Mary Spelzhaus.
It took about two and a half hours for someone from the Summit to come for me
and Mary and I sat and talked the whole time.
Boy, did Mary have stories to tell! I was
spellbound. She had been in the Bridge to Freedom and maybe even the I AM
movement. (I forget all of the details now.) She had been the
roommate of one of the previous messengers from the Bridge to Freedom. She
had seen it all. Mary rambled a bit and I didnít quite understand
everything she told me. She talked about mostly fantastical things in
dictations as I recall.
She was a faithful member. I saw her at most
public services at LaTourelle the whole time I was there and she followed the
church to Pasadena when we moved there.
By and by, a staff member showed up to take me to
LaTourelle. Her name was N.R. I liked her from the moment I
saw her. She was gracious and kind and made me feel welcome. N.R.
worked as a correspondence secretary on staff. She took me directly to
LaTourelle at 1st and Broadmoorójust one block away from the elite Broadmoor
Hotel. LaTourelle was one among many sprawling mansions in the Broadmoor
When N.R. and I arrived, K.
out to meet us. I remembered K.S. from the conference on the Land of
Lanello. She stood out because she was so genuinely friendly and outgoing.
She did not have the impersonal intensity of so many staff. K.S.
worked in the graphics department. She was very artistic. K. and N. helped me move my stuff to the upstairs room where I would be staying.
There were not many staff home at the time I
arrived. K.S. showed me into what was called the Angel Dining Room
where staff had meals. T.C. was a cook and he was there when I
came in. He greeted me in his gracious way and offered me some fruit
soupóthe standard Saturday afternoon fare for staff lunch. It was like a
smoothie. Very good and very sweet.
I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking my
stuff. I would be staying in what was the Montessori classroom. It
was formerly a bedroom for the Prophet children when Mark was alive and Mrs.
Prophet lived at LaTourelle before moving to Santa Barbara in 1973.
The room had a huge walk-in closet and that is where my trunk and clothes were.
As the afternoon waned, staff began to return
from errands. At dinner I met most of them as we all ate our dinner out in
the big backyard. There were about 40-45 staff members at LaTourelle at
the time. Most of them were very friendly and made me feel welcome.
After dinner it was off to the Saint Germain Service in the chapel.
I loved the chapel at LaTourelle. It was so
warm and cozy. Decrees at services presented problems. Any time we
did inserts for a decree or certain decrees (e.g. the Communist decrees), all of
the windows had to be closed so that the neighbors would not hear us. Each
window had a screen that had to be opened to open or close the window. At
first, it wore me out to watch the screens for the windows going up and down and
the windows being cranked open and closed for each insert. After a few
weeks, though, I hardly noticed.
I retired to my room after the Saint Germain
Service. I shared the bedroom/classroom with one or two other staff
members. We all slept on pads on the floor.
Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful.
I was excited but a little nervous. I think we had a forty-five minute
rosary (those were the days before the short rosary) at 7 a. m.
On Sunday morning after the morning
rosary, everyone went outside and circumambulated the property. The
purpose of this ritual was to anchor a spiral of the resurrection flame.
In April of 1971, Omega had established LaTourelle as an official retreat of the Great
White Brotherhood. The resurrection flame was anchored there and
LaTourelle was designated the Retreat of the Resurrection Spiral. All of the
staff were required to wear all white for Sunday services. It was quite a
sight to see all of us walking around the property in our white "Sunday
duds." The neighbors got an eye-full.
After our circumambulation, we had breakfast.
I was too shy to interact with staff so I hid in the closet in my room during
breakfast. <G> I was glad I had my own private cloister to retreat
Next came the Sunday service which consisted of a
lot of decrees and a taped dictation. Mrs. Prophet was not at LaTourelle
when I first got there. She resided in Santa Barbara at that time.
Following the service we had lunch. If
there were no big projects in progress, the staff had about two and half hours
free time on Sunday afternoon. If there was work to be done, everyone
returned to their jobs.
Sunday evening, the staff were supposed to attend
another service that was open to the public. A lecture from Mark Prophet
was played and I think a dictation. It was always geared to new people.
I noticed that not many staff were at the service, esp. when big projects were
in the works.
That first weekend I was there, everyone was
working feverishly getting ready for the Shasta conference. I think some
of the staff worked during the Sunday morning service (which was abbreviated so
we could all get to work) but I attended the morning service that day and then
reported for work after lunch.
I was assigned to work in the shop with
J. W. J. was a nice guy and like everyone else was a hard worker.
He was prepping the school buses that would carry the staff to Mt. Shasta for
the conference. I think there were two buses. I helped J. do some
painting and I also cleaned the buses. I painted the name "Ich Dien"
(I Serve) on the front of one of them. I had not brought any old clothes with me but
by the time I finished painting I had some "old clothes."
I was also assigned to work part of the day in
the bindery under Peter Arnone. We were collating Climb the Highest
Mountain as well as advertising material for the Shasta conference. Peter
was a good boss. He was always very energetic and efficient. I liked
Peter. I recognized his genuine devotion. We had both been raised
Catholics. I felt like he was a brother. Peter was getting married
at the Shasta conference.
Kitchen duty was also one of my daily duties.
While I worked in the kitchen, I got to be good friends with M.B.
We went for walks and ice cream cones to the Broadmoor in the evenings a few
times. M. is a dear and devoted soul. She was a cook and shared
running the kitchen with T. C. She mentioned to me that she
would love to paint the kitchen but it was impossible having to serve three
meals a day to staff every day of the week.
Florence and Tom Miller were in charge of
LaTourelle in the absence of the messenger. I was fond of Tom and Florence
from the very beginning. I had first met Florence at the registration
table on the Land of Lanello at my first conference. When I first saw her,
I felt as though I had known her before. I remembered Tom from his leading
decrees at that first conference. Florence had a great sense of humor and
Tom is a sweet and very pure soul. I still hold Tom and Florence in very
high regard. They were a cute couple. Tom had a way of talking too
long at staff meetings and Florence would give him a look and he would end his
dissertation in short order.
A few days afer I started work on staff, Florence
found out I had phone company experience. Within fifteen minutes I was
being trained for phone duty. The receptionist, M. B., was also going
to be married to G. S. at the Shasta conference and she needed time off
for wedding preparations. After that, I didnít see much of the shop,
bindery or kitchen duty. I was locked into phone duty most of the time.
I was required to pay room and board for my three
months of staff service. I remember thinking when I paid it that it seemed
as though I was paying for working. I did not mind paying it, though,
because I considered it a privilege to work on staff.
Florence made it clear to me that I was not a
staff member but an SU student. She told me that I would have to find my
own transportation to the conference at Mt. Shasta because the buses were
reserved for staff. She said she could not guarantee me a space on the bus. I
did not mind. (The ride from Santa Barbara on a school bus through the
desert was still fresh in my memory.)
I started to look for a ride to the
conference. I got to be friends with a local Keeper who came to services
regularly. I mentioned to her that I needed a ride to Shasta and she
graciously offered me a ride in her van.
T. C. got wind of my having a ride in a
van to the conference and he wanted to go, too. It was fine with me and
A few days before the conference was to begin, the staff
shipped out on the school buses. I remember Peter Arnone drove Ich Dien.
A skeleton crew of four staff members was left at LaTourelleóA. and M. R., T.
S. and K. F., a new mother. T.C. and I
didnít have to leave for a couple of more days.
After the staff were gone, I was on phone duty
one night and during the night I got a phone call from a Keeper who was
traveling from somewhere near St. Louis to the Shasta conference. She was
going through Denver and wanted to know if there were any Keepers in Denver who
would help her drive to Shasta.
Knowing that we would be going through Denver on
our way to Shasta in the van, I volunteered to help her drive. I told her
that my mom lived in Denver and she could pick me up at my momís house. The Keeper was delighted.
had T.C. and the Keeper drop me off at my momís house on their way through
Denver. I took several boxes of material advertising the Shasta conference to
distribute on the way to the conference. I stayed at my momís house and
waited for several days for the Keeper to call. She never did.
Since I had all of the advertising material I
felt like I should distribute it so me and my mom drove north through Colorado
distributing it where ever we could.
I wasnít terribly disappointed the Keeper never
called. It was nice to be home again and not have to get up at 6 a.m. for
the rosary and decrees.
I knew I had to return to LaTourelle soon to fulfill my three
month requirement for SU so after a few days of being AWOL I had my mom drive me
to LaTourelle and leave me there.
I had a terrible sinking feeling in my
gut as one of the staff members opened the gate for us to drive into the
property at LaTourelle. This particular staff member had a peculiar way of
staring that spooked me. I thought he might be a robot.
difficult to watch my mom drive away and leave me there alone. I went to
the chapel and told El Morya he was going to have to help me through this and
give me the vision because I did NOT want to be there.
The conference was still in progress. While
the staff were gone, we didnít have any formal services that I recall.
We did play the Jesus Watch tape on Wednesday afternoon but we did not have
formal decree sessions much, if at all, and no other services that I can
remember. The staff were not due to return from the conference for a few
I had a brilliant ideaóI could paint the kitchen. I
consulted with Alex and Margaret and they agreed it was a good idea. I
threw myself into the task. Alex was the official staff decorating expert
that Mrs. Prophet consulted. He decided on the coloróa light yellow--and
I went to work day and night to get it done by the time the staff returned.
One night we heard the alarm go off in the print
shop out by the back gate. We went to see what happened but everything seemed in order.
The next day, T. S. was nowhere to
be found. He had disappeared. After searching, we found a note on
his typewriter in the shipping department. It read simply, "Gone to
Tahiti." The alarm we had heard was T.S. putting his gear in the
print shop to make his getaway. He actually did go to Tahiti.
was very youngóaround 18 or so. Not much was said about his leaving.
A few weeks later, Mrs. Prophet said that Lanello (Mr. Prophet's ascended name) had told her that he wanted
T.S. to leave staff and go to school. T.S. left before she had delivered
Lanelloís message. Eventually, T.S. did join either the military or
merchant marine (I forget which). He was a fine young man.
strange sort of way, I admired T.S. for doing what he did. I was too
conservative to ever do something like that.
After multiple delays because of breakdowns of
the buses on the road, the staff finally returned to LaTourelle. Several
SU students arrived to fulfill their required staff service for level three. Some of the
third-level SU students had
already fulfilled their three months and left before I got there. Also, I
think some were serving on staff in Santa Barbara and at the Idaho property.
Shortly after she got off the bus that had
returned from Shasta, Florence mentioned the services we had held at LaTourelle
while the staff had been away to M. R. It was an awkward
moment. I wondered what M.R. would say. She kind of shrugged off
the topic and didnít say much. I didnít say anything, either.
(It was fine with me that we had all had a vacation from services while the
staff were away.) Florence didnít press the issue.
After the staff returned, we settled into a more
normal routine. Morning rosary and decrees began at 6 a. m. Breakfast and
work followed. Lunch, noon decrees, work, dinner, work, evening Astreas or
service and bed. That was the daily routine.
On Saturday morning,
staff attended the Kuan Yin Jubilee Service for the youth of the world. It
was one of my favorite services. Then we went to work until lunch.
Staff were allowed to go on personal errands after lunch and had to return by
dinner and attend the Saint Germain Service on Saturday night. I already
outlined the Sunday routine earlier.
I have some fond memories of Sunday afternoons at
LaTourelle. Tom and Florence Miller would stand at the front gate like dad
and mom telling us to be careful as they saw all the staff off to our two and
half hours of recreation.
I relished those free times. A favorite
place for staff to go was a spot in the mountains that supposedly was close to God
Taborís retreat. We would hike and enjoy the forest. Our time was
always too short to really do much of a hike but I loved going to the mountains.
At one point during that summer, for some reason
(I do not remember why) I had to move out of the Montessori classroom. I
remember Florence sitting in the little phone nook off the kitchen pondering where I could sleep. She
decided on a filing room where Emilie Chisko worked. It was a very narrow
and little room on the second floor that had a small closet and a window.
It was too small for more than one person to sleep in so I had a private
bedroom. I moved my clothes and pad into the closet and spent the rest of
the summer sleeping there. I was in seventh heaven. I had found my
nunís cell at last.
There were things about staff life that surprised
me. For instance, I was horrified at the staff laundry room. L. W. tried in vain to keep it neat and clean. (Bless her heart.) There
was a huge sign on the wall: "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
It didnít seem to help.
It was risky to wash your clothes there. I
washed some of my good shirts and ended up with car grease all over them.
There was no other alternative, though. Also, your laundry might disappear
from there and never be seen again. I was careful not to put all my eggs
in one basket (i.e. all my underwear in one load) because you could really be up
a creek if all your underwear disappeared from the laundry room. If it
happened on Monday you would have to wait until Saturday to have a chance to buy
There was always a huge pile of
what was called "Mother Mary's give-away" clothes in the laundry room. (I donít think there was much
underwear in it, though. <G>) I could never figure out where all that
stuff came from. This was true of my whole tenure on staff. I rarely
recognized any of the clothes in the give-away as something I had seen
previously on a staff member. Itís one of those mysteries that I never
was able to solve.
Another surprise for me was seeing both men and
women walking down the hall in their bathrobe. (Alone, not together.
<G>) There were only two or three bathrooms with showers in the
house so you had to fit your daily ablutions in whenever you could during your
Staff would leave their towels to dry in the bathrooms for the
most part. Mine disappeared once but several days later it reappeared.
I took it back and kept it in my room after that.
Staff were supposed to fast on water on
Thursdays. It was expected that SU students would fast with staff. Those
who could not fast for some reason were served leftovers. Sometimes the
leftovers were very unappealing. When I worked in the kitchen, M.B. said the staff would eat anything with cheese on it.
So often we put cheese on leftovers and heated them up.
Of all the properties the Summit owned while I
was on staff, LaTourelle was bar none my favorite. No other property was
quite like it. It was a truly beautiful building with lots of surrounding
grounds in a gorgeous area at the foot of Pike's Peak. I had favorite
places there. One was the bottom of the stairs in a great rotunda that had
a spiral staircase going up to the second floor. Halfway up the staircase
was a mini-balcony that had a door and flower box. I used to love to look up
and see the flowers blooming from the bottom of the stairs.
Another favorite place of mine was a secret,
underground passageway that led from the main house to the gatehouse out back.
We called it The Tunnel. You had to crouch down to move through it. It was
the one place staff could go to really let loose with fiats and decrees. I used to
love to do my decrees there. About halfway through The Tunnel was a little kid
chair where you sat to do your decrees. There was a picture of planet
earth from space on the wall.
Today as I write, I look back on that era with a
certain fondness and nostalgia. I was innocent and dedicated in my service
to the masters and messengers. I lost myself in my duty to
a higher purpose. All of the staff were so dedicated and sincere.
There was a genuine camaraderie in our common dedication to serving the cause of
the Great White Brotherhood.
It was pretty much a level playing field
among staff as I perceived it at that time. (Of course, I was only an SU
student then and not part of the inner workings.) As far as I could tell,
those with money did not receive any special treatment. I did not detect
an elitist/aristocratic consciousness of any kind at that time among the staff
at LaTourelle when I first arrived there.
In my opinion, Tom and Florence
Miller were shining examples of humble staff doing a job. They did not
consider themselves superior to anyone. It wasnít until the messenger
and some of those who worked
around her directly began to arrive on the scene at LaTourelle
that things changedófor the worse, I might add.