BORN AGAIN AND AGAIN

This little Iowa farm girl, turned wide-eyed and ecstatic, seeing the beauty of San Francisco in June,1960, when she arrived with her carpool from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa at the age of twenty. She, and all the carpool, had been involved in the video production of “West-Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein at the University. The drive and owner of the car had produced this musical video for his final project to earn his M.A. degree in radio and television. Bob, Mike, Deanne, and I were all dancers in the production.
I had come to California for the summer after my second year at college. Eventually, I had to make the big decision, to stay or not to stay. If I stayed, in The City I had fallen in love with, I would have to end my education at SUI, but realized I could resume it in California, if I worked two years in San Francisco, thus earning residency status, and a very reasonable tuition at San Francisco State. Within a short time, I made my decision and have called the San Francisco Bay Area home for 58 years, except for seven or eight years in Kansas and ten years in Nevada City, CA.
Having lost my faith due to sin and an atheistic professor of biology at San Francisco State, (where I earned a B.A. in humanities and speech in 1965 and a California Secondary teaching credential and a second major in English literature in 1967),I searched for God everywhere. In the ’60’s, San Francisco hosted every guru that landed here from India. I met almost all of them! I first began studying art privately with Barbara Briggs in Tiburon. Then, I enrolled in art classes at the College of Marin and studied with Marty Stoezel. Next, I studied drawing with Norman Steigelmeyer at the University of San Francisco Extension. Later, I joined Norman at the San Francisco Art Institute on Russian Hill where I earned a B.F.A. in painting in 1977 under the tutelage of Sam Tchikalian. One day, during my drawing class on Gough Street with Norman, I asked him how he had become so peaceful. He told me that he was a student of Suzuki Roshi, the founder of the Zen Center on Page Street. So, I walked up the stair steps leading up to brick Zen Center and spent the next two or three years attending the Saturday lectures by Roshi-Baker and sitting zazen. Eventually, I began to study Japanese tea ceremony with Okasan, the wife of Suzuki-Roshi.
Later, I began attending the lectures each Sunday for three years by a student of Sri Orobindo at the Ashram on Fulton Street. There I learned the importance of meditation. When I read “The Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda, I learned the importance of finding a guru.
Besides attending Grace Cathedral, the Episcopal Church on Nob Hill, when I lived in an apartment on Nob Hill, I attended several Protestant churches, and Temple Immanuel, the Reformed Jewsih Temple on Lake Street, all in search for the lost faith of my childhood.
In those days, the Tibetan Buddhist teachers were also visiting San Francisco regularly. I attended the Black Hat Ceremony with the Karmapa and cooked for the American students of Tibetan Buddhism when Kalu Rimpoche was in town. I did not miss the teachings of Katageri Roshi and visited him at his Zen Center in Minneapolis. Finally, after witnessing Trumpka Rimpoche three sheets to the wind, I gave up looking for a guru!!
The Tibetan Lama from Berkeley invited me to his exhibition of Tibetan tankas at Grace Cathedral. I was the gate-keeper and ticket taker. One night, we viewed “Shangrala”, the beautiful film about Tibet. I met a student of Gurdjieff. He handed me a slip of paper with a phone number and the name of Kadija. He said that my daughter might be interested in the summer Sufi camp. I carried that slip of paper in my billfold for two or three years. Finally, I called that number and registered for the Sufi camp in Mendocino in June of 1976. There I met Pir Vilayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order of the West, and son of Hazrat Inayat Khan, of India, and founder of the Sufi Movement. On June 18, 1976, I took initiation. The rest is history. I followed Pir around the world for the next twenty years, every three months flying to India five times, Surenes, France, outside Paris to his summer school, the Swiss and French Alps for the Zenith Camp in the summmer, New York City to attend his training for leaders at The Abode of the Message in New Lebonon,in upstate New York, to Florida, Arizona, and the Nevada desert for his winter camps, along with his summer camps in Nevada City, CA and Santa Barbara.
While living in Nevada City, CA, I had four radio shows on KVMR-fm, including “A Bowl of Saki” where I shared music and teachings from the religions of the world. One day, I aired a tape by Dr. Helen Caldacott, the pediatrician who had left her profession to spread information of the harm of a nuclear war, including not only the death of people, but the destruction of all of the arts of Western Civilization, including Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Shakespeare, etc., etc. I was horrified. I looked up at the control center of the radio station, seeing the red light ablaze. Somehow, I knew there was a Power even stronger than the nuclear bomb and my fear subsided.
I created a poster of the planet earth with a line drawn through it. and labeled it: “Nuclear Free Zone”, posting it all around the village of Nevada City, California.
Fast-forward to the summer of 1984. I returned to Mendocino for another Sufi camp with Pir. Ariel made the following announcement: “The women are invited to a Puja for The Mother at noon. I thought I was going to a Hindu religious ceremony for Mother Earth! Instead, when I reached the cathedral of redwood trees, we were asked to pray the rosary, something this fallen-away Protestant-Sufi did NOT know! But, I did my best to pray the rosary, IN TEARS, as I thought the world was threatened with a nuclear war and the destruction of all that I loved. Afterwards, Ariel said that she had a message from Our Lady for Tasnime and Ardvisura, a fallen-away Catholic-Sufi and me, as my Sufi name was Ardvisura.
The rest is history. I began attending daily mass. In 1995, we moved from my 18 acre farm in Kansas and landed in my Japan friend’s condo in Foster City adjacent to St. Luke’s Catholic Church. As James and I waited for our San-Tran Bus to travel to San Francisco where we both had jobs, I saw the priest outside the church in the early morning hours. I said to him, “When the school year is finished, I am going to begin attending daily mass.” So, I kept my word. The first free day after the school year ended was a Wednesday. I attended daily mass at St. Luke’s in the little chapel and stayed for the rosary. I overheard the rosary group say they were going to have breakfast at Carrow’s. So, I walked to Carrow’s and ordered a poached egg. Pat saw me at the table and said, “Didn’t I see you at St. Luke’s at mass and the rosary?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Why don’t you join us at our table?” So, I did and they invited me to Our Lady’s Prayer Group that meets every Wednesday night in San Bruno Catholic Church in San Bruno, California. I attended the prayer group where the Mother of God appears to two visionaries from El Salvadore. The next week, Deacon Paul sat next to me and heard me sing. He told me to join the choir. The rest is history. I was a member of Our Lady’s Prayer Group for the next 20 years, taking multiple pilgrimages with the visionaries to Medjugorje seven times, Paris, Lourdes, Fatima, and Poland.
Fast-forward 23 years. In the meantime, I spend all these years focusing on my conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. Then, on June 17, 2018, I was inspired to call my Sufi friend, Rev. Berthi in Pennsylvania hoping to catch her before she moves. I learned later that I had called her on the 14th anniversary of the death or Pir Vilayat Khan, his urz. Subsequently, I was inspired to take a Sufi retreat and wrote Aziza Scott, the only person who was able to translate Pir’s esoteric teachings during his retreats. I asked her when she would be giving her next retreat in California. I learned that her next retreat is in all places, Nevada City, California, where I spent ten years running a Sufi Center!
So now, I have dusted off my Sufi library, my Zen and Tibetan Buddhist library, and discovered a little diary of Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil, documenting apparitions she received from Our Lord and Our Lady from 1954-1981, while Mildred was residing in Fostoria, Ohio, USA. The title of the Diary is “Our Lady of America”. In the final message, Our Lady warns the world, through Mildred, about the threat of a nuclear war. For more information, write Our Lady of America Devotion, P.O. Box 264, Lodi, Ohio, 44254 or on line at Our Lady of America.
May God, in His great mercy, bless, protect, and guide us all to peace on earth, good will to all men. Amen.

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