Part One:  Eureka! This Is It!

My name is Cheri Walsh.  I was a member of The Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal and Triumphant for over twenty-five years, from my early twenties to late forties.  I was on staff for twenty-one years and a permanent staff member for nineteen years.  I worked in the editorial department for nineteen years and was an instructor at Summit University for six years.  I left the ranch in mid-1996.

I left behind many good friends and I miss them.  More about that later.

Today I am grateful for a forum where I can tell my story uncensored.  I am going to tell it allóthe good, the bad, the ugly and unbelievable.

Why am I doing this?  I have asked myself this question.  There are numerous reasons.  I will write about those after I tell my story. 

Let me say from the outset that this is not meant to be a polished document.  I am writing at my PC and not concerned about drafting and redrafting and the fine points of editing.  I want to make it interesting and readable but not a time-intensive project. 

Also, I donít pretend to present an objective and unbiased view.  This is my personal view and commentary on persons and events as I witnessed them.  It is the truth from my perspective.  I have opinions and I will express them.  So now I begin from the beginning.

First, my background.  I was born and raised a devout Catholic in Denver, Colorado.  For as long as I can remember, my quest had always been to find the meaning of life and make the most meaningful use of this life.  I was an idealist.

My family fell apart and went through some difficult times when I was sixteen.  My Catholic faith strengthened and sustained me through that dark period.  My devotion and connection to Jesus at that time was personal and very real to me.  My faith was central to my life.  I went to Mass and communion every day and made a visit to church on my way home from school in the afternoon.  I found peace and solace there.

When I graduated from high school in 1967, I applied to enter the Carmelite monastery/convent in Littleton, Colorado.  This is the order of nuns that St. Therese of Lisieux belonged to.  Her autobiography had been one of my favorite books in high school along with works by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, especially his autobiography entitled The Seven Storey Mountain. The contemplative monastic life as outlined by St. Therese and Thomas Merton appealed to my idealistic search for meaning.  

Wisely, the mother superior of the Carmelite convent told me to go to college for a year and then reapply.  So I went off to a Catholic college in Oregon.

In the late sixties there was a great deal of turmoil in the Catholic Church in the wake of Vatican II.  I think it was a good thing that happened at that time.  People began to see and question the tyranny and power trips of the Church hierarchy.  I agreed with what was being said about the control of the people in the Church by fear.  It was about human beings controlling other human beings.  So I was open to looking into new ways of thinking outside Catholic doctrine and I did.

At that time, I came to find out that my mother was of like thinking towards the Catholic Church.  So we embarked together on a search for the truth.  We read many books. We attended meditation groups and  experienced the power of being in touch with higher aspects of oneself.

We explored numerous metaphysical teachings and groups.  We visited a spiritualist church and even attended a seance.  That spooked me a bit.  

One day we went to a Unity meeting where no one was under seventy years old.  We gracefully excused ourselves when they took their peanut-butter-and-graham cracker break.  They were lovely people, but their meeting was not exactly what we were looking for.

While I know that there are many fine and spiritual people in the metaphysical movement, it seemed to me at the time that those groups were mainly focused on material wealth and/or health.  It did not fit into my idealistic search for an altruistic mission in life.  The quest continued.

At college I majored in English because I thought maybe I would discover clues to the meaning of life in literature.  I minored in Theology because I hoped some answers would be there, too.  I also minored in elementary education because I thought kids were the best people and I wanted to be a teacher. 

During that first year at college, I came to believe in reincarnation.  It made sense and answered a lot of questions.  Knowing that reincarnation was not something the Catholic Church taught, I figured that my new beliefs would be problematical in terms of being a Carmelite.  So I abandoned the plan to enter the monastery and began an intense search for something meaningful to dedicate my life to.

I stayed in school in Oregon for another year.  In the fall of 1969, I left school and returned home to Denver and began working for the telephone company.  All the while, I was still searching and searchingÖbut I was beginning to get discouraged. 

My twenty-first birthday was a bust.  I was so depressed. I needed a higher cause to live for. 

A good education and a horse were the two things I had always wanted most in my youth.  For my twenty-first birthday, I went out and bought myself a horse.   I hoped that having a horse would brighten my depression.  It did for a while but I was still depressed and hungering for the absolute truth about life.

In early 1971, I purchased a non-Summit Lighthouse book about the spiritual hierarchy.  I devoured that teaching.  I saw it as an expanded view of the communion of saints and the celestial order of beings I had learned about in the  Catholic Church.

A few months later, in a bookstore in Denver called the Silver Cord, I found a set of Pearls of Wisdom published by The Summit Lighthouse on The Human Aura.  The aura was something that interested me, so I bought it.  I read the Pearls.  I remember being disappointed that they did not contain much concrete information about the aura.  I did not understand that the Pearls were written by an "ascended master." 

At the time I bought the Pearls, I also picked up some free pamphlets about subscribing to the weekly Pearls of Wisdom and joining the Keepers of the Flame Fraternity.  I briefed through the pamphlets and put them aside.  That was the end of it until several months later when I ran across them on my desk.  Towards the end of the year, I filled out a form to receive Pearls of Wisdom and mailed it to The Summit Lighthouse (TSL) headquarters in Colorado Springs. 

During all of 1972 I received the weekly Pearls.  At first, I opened and read them but I did not understand much of what they said.  Terms like "matrix" and "outpictured" seemed strange to me at the time. (Donít forget, this was in 1972.)  I felt there was something spiritual in them, though.  I used to take the Pearls out to the pasture outside of town where I kept my horse and read them while my horse munched on his grain. 

As the year went on and I got busy with outdoor activities and gardening, etc, I didnít always open the Pearls when they came.  But I did keep them.  Towards the end of the year, I decided that I would join the Keepers of the Flame Fraternity after the New Year in 1973 which I did. 

I got my first Keeper of the Flame (KOF) lesson and read it.  I also subscribed to the monthly tapes of dictations.  On one of the first cassettes I received was a dictation by Leto.  She spoke of becoming a walking encyclopedia of the teachings.  I decided right then and there that I would do that.  I began outlining my KOF lesson that very day.  I became a serious student of the teachings even though I didnít understand how the messengers fit in.

In early March of 1973, I received an announcement in the mail of Mark Prophetís ascension in Colorado Springs.  I did not know what to make of it.  The only other ascension I knew of was Jesus.  He was taken up into heaven in a cloud and disappeared from sight.  I actually wondered if that is how MLP went! <G>

It may seem odd to you that I did not understand how anyone other than Jesus could ascend.  Remember, this was in 1973.  The term and understanding of the ascension was not something taught or even talked about in most metaphysical groups at that time.  As a Catholic, I was taught that Jesus ascended into heaven because he was the Son of God.  Even the Blessed Mother was "assumed into heaven"  as a special favor to her.  Regular human beings did not ascend like Jesus. 

Anyway, I called the headquarters of the TSL in Colorado Springs and spoke to Alda Hudson.  I asked her about MLPís ascension.  I didnít want to sound stupid, so I avoided asking her directly if he went up to heaven in a cloud.  I asked her how it all happened and she told me that he made his transition first and ascended from inner planes.  I understood her explanation. 

I probed Alda more about the organization.  She told me that the staff lived and worked at headquarters full time.  That struck me as  odd.  Even though I was a Catholic and understood convents and rectories, I hadnít run across any non-denominational churches that had full-time employees of that nature.

I still didnít understand the messengersí role.  I thought the ascended masters actually wrote and signed the Pearls themselves.  At the end of each Pearl I got in the mail in 1972 and early 1973, the masterís name was signed in a script.  I remember thinking how all the ascended masters had the same handwriting! <G> (The joke is on me.)

I lived only about ninety miles from TSL headquarters in Colorado Springs, but I had never been moved to drive there to meet Mark and Elizabeth Prophet.  During our search for truth, my mom and I had met several flannel-mouthed metaphysical ministers who loved to hear themselves talk and thrived on the adulation of little old ladies.  These ministers did not come across to me as being particularly spiritual.  Mark Prophetís picture had struck me the same way.  I saw another boring, self-important metaphysical minister.  It never occurred to me to make a trip to meet him.  I wasnít looking for a teacher.  I had never focused on a person.  I was looking for the truth.

As the weeks went on, I got regular mailings from TSL.  One contained an announcement and ad about the publication of Climb the Highest Mountain.  I sent for it right away.  The day it came in the mail I sat down and read it from cover to cover.  It amazed me.  I loved the depth and subject matter.  I didnít care for the illustrations, though.  Mrs. Prophetís picture didnít strike me one way or another.  I wasnít focused on her at all.  It was the teaching that intrigued me.

I started getting notices from the Summit about the upcoming Easter conference in Colorado Springs.  I made arrangements to get off work and I made a reservation to stay at a motel during the conference.  I didnít know anyone in the Summit, though, and I decided not to go at the last minute.  I continued to study the teachings.

Then announcements about the summer conference on the Land of Lanello outside Colorado Springs began to come in the mail.  I decided to attend.  My mom and sister said they would go with me.  So I made all the arrangements.  At the last minute, my mom and sister backed out but as I had already rented camping gear for the trip, I decided to go without them. 

My mom drove me to the conference site and dropped me off.  I remember watching her drive away.  At that moment, I wished I hadnít come.  I was already looking forward to the end of the conference.  Since I was committed to attend and could not turn back, I decided to check it out.

Wow!  What an experience that first conference was!  I got registered and settled into my area in the womanís dorm tent.  Then I went to the main tent where they were decreeing and singing.  There was no such thing as a "new peopleís program" back then. 

I had never heard decrees before.  (Decrees were not on the monthly tapes in those days.)  Boy!  It sounded weird to me but I understood what was going on from my reading.  

The decree leader announced after every decree that if you had not read The Science of the Spoken Word book you needed to go to the back of the tent.  I had read the book so I didnít go, but I  saw that they were giving people instruction on the teaching from the book about decrees.

I sat in the tent and did the decrees with everyone.  I was observing and absorbing everything I saw.  There were probably about a thousand people in the tent decreeing.  It was the most dynamic thing I had witnessed to date in a non-denominational group.

During the decree session, Tom Miller talked about Kuan Yinís dictation on the program for the next day.  He said there were gold medallions we could purchase to have during her dictation so that her vibration would be anchored with us.   Being a Catholic, I could relate to medals.  From Tomís announcements, I gathered it was a big deal to have a medallion, so I bought one.

We decreed all afternoon and had a dinner break.  During the meal break, I toured the booths that were there.  All the jewelry, amethyst and sundry items that were for sale struck me as strange.  It felt like the moneychangers in the temple to me.  I had never seen jewelry being sold in a church before.  (This was before crystals hit the metaphysical scene.)

At dinner I ate with a group of older people. They talked about the electronic presence of the messengers being anchored through photographs of them.  That answered the question in my mind about why they were selling scads of photographs of the messengers in the bookstore.  

The conferees told fantastical stories about Saint Germain and the I AM movement.  Some spoke of seeing ascended masters and other things on inner planes during dictations.  I took it all in.

I was particularly struck by the intensity and aura of mystery around the staff.  Almost all of them seemed impersonal and aloof.  At the time, I interpreted it in a positive way.  I thought it must have something to do with their spiritual understanding and attainment.  

I overheard one staff member say that he had not had any sleep for three days because of working nonstop on the conference.  I wondered why that was so.

After dinner, decrees started up again in the tent.  I had no idea what to expect.  About 7 p.m., Elizabeth Clare Prophet made her appearance at the podium wearing a beautiful silk sari.  The moment I set eyes on her I was fascinated.  She was obviously a very powerful woman. She delivered a lecture that was interesting. The audience hung on her every word.  So did I.  I had never seen anything like it.

After the lecture, the conference dispersed for the night.  I remember walking back to my tent under a clear Colorado star-lit sky.  My mind was spinning with all the dayís experiences.  

I didnít sleep much and was anxious for the next day to arrive.  I got up at about 4:30 a.m. and went to the altar in the main tent about 5 a.m.  There were one or two KOF there decreeing in the front row.  I donít remember if I joined them.  I was shy.  

When the morning session of decrees officially got underway, I was there.  We decreed all morning in anticipation of Kuan Yinís dictation.  There was a dramatic buildup to the messengerís arrival for the dictation.  Warnings about making noise during the dictation which could break the messengerís contact with the master heightened the sense of drama and anticipation.

Finally, the messenger arrived and we settled into the pre-dictation meditation music.  I was enthralled with the whole scene.  After witnessing the messenger deliver Kuan Yinís dictation, I thought, "This is IT!  I have been searching for this all my life!  It is right here!"  I was hooked big time.

The remainder of the conference swept me into a whole new world.  There was a dictation from the Great Divine Director about the laggards embodied in the Middle East who actually blew up their own planet Maldek in a nuclear war.  Two-thirds of the evolutions on Maldek evidently went through the second death and the other third were given another opportunity to embody on planet Earth.  Wow!  Cosmic history.  Amazing!  Each lecture and dictation was filled with more wonderful and sometimes amazing information. 

In one dictation, Mrs. Prophet was made the Vicar of Christ on Earth.  As a Catholic, I understood what that meant.  She was the real pope!  After the dictation she marched out of the tent to the music of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Awesome.  I was SO lucky to witness this!

Mrs. Prophet spoke of being a vegetarian.  She said that the last time she had eaten fish she immediately felt a wave of disappointment go through all of elemental life in the oceans of the world because she (the Mother of the Flame on earth) had partaken of the flesh of fish.  She vowed she would never eat fish again.  Of course, I became a vegetarian on the spot.

Everything was wonderful and awesome but also unsettling and a bit scary as the necessity of making survival preparations was a major theme of the conference.  Prepare for the worst.  The economy may soon collapse.  Buy gold, survival gear and food.  Anarchy might ensue after economic collapse.  Have a plan and a place prepared.  Decree for the preservation of the economy but donít count on it.  Saint Germain, Lanello and K-17 especially emphasized the need for making preparations in their dictations.

The KOF business meeting told us about a piece of land in Idaho where a place of safety was being prepared as a safe haven during the potential social, economic and political chaos that could happen at any time.  Staff were needed to help build the Idaho community.

As the days went on, I did not want the conference to end.  I couldnít get enough!  I wanted to hear more and more and moreóall day every day for the rest of my life!  Then Mrs. Prophet announced the opening of the Ascended Master University in September in Santa Barbara, California.  I was thrilled! 

I was torn, though, between joining to help build the community in Idaho or going to Ascended Master University in the fall.  I wanted to talk to someone about what I should do.  I got in line several times to talk to Martin Lasater about it as he was taking volunteers for the Idaho project.  There were always too many people in line for me to get up to him before it was time to return to the tent, though.   So, I made the decision on my own to attend AMU (later known as Summit University).

After the conference, there was a two or three day survival seminar where we attended hands-on workshops to learn all sorts of survival skills.  E.F. taught us how to tie knots.  A young couple taught about edible plants in the wild.  I especially enjoyed learning to rappel.  W.Z. taught that. 

I remember K. M. telling a group of us stories of amazing feats by Mark and Elizabeth Prophet as we walked along the trail to our rappelling cliff.  I was in special awe of K.M. because he had been knighted Sir Winston in a dictation during the conference. 

After the survival seminar, there was a full-day hike up Pikes Peak with Mrs. Prophet on Sunday.  No one over thirty-three was allowed to participate because of the degree of difficulty of the climb.  I eagerly signed up.  It was a bright, sunny day and the hike was indeed arduous.  But I was on cloud nine. 

I only caught one glimpse of Mrs. Prophet on the way up.  She was surrounded by intense people.  I especially remember Randall King.  After we got to the top, we were bussed back to camp. 

The next morning was a huge letdown.  All of the conference tents had been taken down already and most of the conferees were gone, too.  I got on a bus back to Denver.  I would never be the same. I returned home a total fanatic.

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