The Casa as it was called was my second home, at the time, known to all who drove past as The Franciscan Renewal Center. Though I was not a particularly religious person, I had friends there, most of whom were friars. I would even meet my wife there, a few years later. I ate most of my meals in the Casa dining room; I even went to early morning Mass, not that I bought The Story that went with the rituals, but the rituals helped me with my own story.
The desire for and the expectations that had given whatever meaning had sustained me in the life I had just left, ebbed slowly away. Gradually, I was beginning to feel like a fairly normal person; normal in most every way but one.
On a Saturday afternoon as I was writing an order for a new customer-we were standing at a counter in the small showroom up front-the lady said to me “How do you know my address?” Without thinking, I had written her complete address (I remember it still) on the sales ticket. Gratefully, an explanation left my lips as quickly as it arrived in my thoughts, “I’m a neighbor of yours, and I saw you pulling into your driveway one afternoon.” This led abruptly into the need for supporting lies but fortunately we were interrupted by one of my employees who needed assistance.
I broke away for a moment and the matter never came up again. After she left, I removed myself from the store and went for a walk around the shopping center, thinking about what had just happened. I was not that woman’s neighbor. Never had I driven on any of those streets in the El Rancho sub-division on McCormick Ranch in the neighborhood that she called home.
That showroom would present many such occasions for the mysterious discovery of similarly, surprising bits of information in the next year or so. It would take a few years before I would begin learning how to assimilate this new part of my life, though I would not have to wait very long for the memories of similar incidents from my childhood.
I rarely notice these days, when such leaps in awareness take place. But combined with my rituals of consciously expressed thoughts of gratitude I have become much more incline toward affection for the simple surprises of daily living.