The Story of George and Maria
I have a remarkable story to tell about a
brother and a sister. At its core, this
story reveals the power of Kindness and the
power of Gratitude.
George, 13, and Maria, 11, were reeling in
despair due to the sudden death of their
mother. Their father subsequently flipped
out. He made things much worse by placing
them in separate homes with relatives who
did not want them. This cruel
abandonment by their father had turned the
children into near orphans. Maria was
the most vulnerable. She was alone,
scared, and grieving. She missed
George terribly. In short order she had lost
her mother, her father, and her only friend
in the world. She cried herself to
sleep every night. No one came to console
Fortunately, after a month apart, George was
able to catch enough fish to buy a bike.
This allowed him to travel a great distance
across town every day. His comfort and
reassurance made a huge difference for the
young girl. Thanks to him, Maria was able to
pull through. Growing up poor and
unwanted, the only thing these two kids had
going for them was each other. That was all
they needed. They went on to lead
To fully appreciate the story I am about to
tell, a certain amount of background is
required. The story of George and
Maria is an excerpt from the book I have
written titled the Magic Carpet Ride.
My book is unusual because it deals with the
concept of Fate. There was a point in
college when I became deeply preoccupied
with the existence of God.
In particular, there had been an
extraordinary event in my last year of high
school that led me to believe I had
witnessed a miracle. That incident
plus several other mysterious childhood
events made me wonder if these were 'Fated'
events. By my logic, if I could prove
to myself that Fate exists, then I was
willing to conclude God exists as well.
From that point on, I went on Supernatural
alert. Whenever something out of the
ordinary took place, I wrote it down on a
List for future reference.
Six years after
my rough spot in high school, I experienced another terrible
setback. To my chagrin, I was thrown out of graduate
school. I was hoping to become a therapist, but the
head of the program decided my personality was not suited
for this particular profession. He was probably right,
but I was devastated nonetheless.
intense interest in Fate, I barely gave it a passing thought during
my time in graduate school. I suppose I was too busy
coping with Reality to worry about omens and leprechauns.
However, my life was soon to change.
The moment I returned to Houston,
a series of truly bizarre
events took place in rat-a-tat order. In a very
curious way, these strange
events created a path that led to dance lessons. I
could tell something very weird was
going on in my life, but I had no idea what was in store for
me. Three years later, a dance career was handed to me
out of thin air when Saturday Night Fever was
Carpet Ride explains in careful detail how SSQQ, my
dance studio, was created due to a new series of coincidences and lucky breaks. These lucky breaks
helped SSQQ become Houston's largest dance program.
Nor did it stop there. As SSQQ continued to evolve, it
became a special place full of fun and friendship.
When it came to romance, SSQQ was like a secret garden.
Every time I turned around, it seemed like someone new had
met the love of their life and were getting married.
As word of the enchanted garden spread, SSQQ continued to
grow... and grow... and grow. At its peak, I firmly
believe SSQQ was the largest dance studio in the country
under one roof.
Although I am proud to have been
associated with this wonderful program, it was obvious right
from the start that I was not responsible for all this
success. All it took was one
look at the rapidly growing List to know I was receiving
Divine help. While others
complimented me, deep down I knew I could not have
done this by myself. In
essence, I was fortunate to lead a charmed life. Of course,
this is a very bold claim. I understand that. People will
scoff and say I am delusional, maybe even feel pity for me.
But what if it
is true? What if I can prove it? Let me ask a
question. Are you confident that the way you view the
world is the way it really is? I imagine every one of
you have had experiences that left you scratching your head.
there is no way to prove that Fate exists, at least not 'scientifically'.
However, through observation, I have collected a large
number of experiences, 80 at last count, that strongly
suggest there is more to this world than meets the eye.
If you ever get the chance to read my book, you just might
find yourself asking questions about what we call 'Reality'.
So what is the
story behind 'Brother and Sister'?
As it turns out,
Maria Ballantyne was the woman I credited with the miracle.
She came upon me at the most
desperate point in my life. One more reversal of
fortune and I would have been a goner. Mrs. Ballantyne
had never met me before, but she instantly recognized a
child in crisis. Not just that, once she realized my
situation, she was shocked to discover we shared near
identical childhoods. At that point, Mrs. Ballantyne
got a strange look in her eyes. She stepped back to
make herself comfortable against her car, then began to tell
me her life story. She did it for a specific purpose.
By her reasoning, if she could pull herself out of the deep
hole she found herself stuck in as a child, then I could do
it too. Guess what? She was right. Thanks
to Mrs. Ballantyne's kind words, I find the courage to put
aside my pain and start over.
As one might
gather, I felt a profound gratitude to Mrs. Ballantyne.
Not only did she pull me out of a terrible downward spiral,
two years later her 'Miracle' became the inspiration for my search for God.
That made her pretty special in my book.
"In my book"...
what a curious phrase. I would go on to meet Maria
Ballantyne six times over a 45 year period, usually an
hour or so at a time. On paper we were what you might
call casual acquaintances. Not once did we have our
picture taken together. Not once did we meet socially.
And yet whenever we met, we had the most profound rapport.
Sure enough, Mrs. Ballantyne would invariably start telling
me the next chapter of her life.
wondered why this woman who barely knew me never hesitated
to reveal so much of her amazing story to me. It got
to the point where maybe I should take dictation. Then
one day I had a hunch there might be a
mystical reason behind the stories that she shared. I
had long wished I could find some way to repay Mrs.
Ballantyne for her kindness. Maybe I should write a
book about her.
And so I did.
story begins right below.
"Of All the Gin Joints In All the Towns In All the World,
She Walks Into Mine."
Rick Blaine speaking of
Ilsa, the girl who broke his heart in 'Casablanca'
Rick Archer's Footnote:
One morning in
February 1978, an acquaintance from the past strolled into
Stevens of Hollywood. I had only spoken to this person
once in my life, but the shock of seeing them was so
powerful that I nearly fainted. Care to make a guess?
The funny thing
about my Magic Carpet Ride is that I did not
realize I was on a Magic Carpet Ride. At least not
yet. My life was a blur. Between Lance Stevens,
my Child Neglect job, the Jet Set Club, and teaching dance
five, sometimes six nights out of seven, here in February I
had both feet firmly planted in the Material World. I
was so busy trying to cope, I barely gave the Mystical World
In a recessed
part of my mind, I understood that I had gotten pretty lucky
when Saturday Night Fever appeared when it
did. After all, it was kind of weird that I felt like
God wanted me to take dance lessons three years ago.
When the movie appeared, I was allowed to put the dance
knowledge I had acquired over the past three years to very
good use. As coincidences go, that was an eye-opener.
However, I was oblivious to the fact that God had more or
less moved a mountain to put me where I was. That
understanding would come later.
So why was I so
clueless? In early January, I thought all dance
studios were packed with Disco devotees. This was
incorrect. I did not realize the 'Spotlight Effect'
had trained its light solely on the spot where I was
standing. I also thought there were Disco teachers on
every corner waiting to take my job. This too was
incorrect. I did not realize the 'Incompetence
Effect' had mysteriously singled me out as Houston's
only Disco teacher here at the start. Yes, there would
soon be several teachers, but in January I had the city to
myself. As for my Courtesan-inspired
'Dance Project', I was only dimly aware that my three
Lost Years of wandering might have a Cosmic purpose to it.
Thanks to the 'Crossroad Effect', my Dance Path had
placed me squarely in the path of the coming Disco
I had a vague
sense that something really odd was going on with my life,
but that was about the extent of it. Although I was
born to ask questions, the Big Picture was far too big for
me to see what was going on in a Mystical sense.
Forgive my ignorance, but so far no angels had dropped by to
explain what was going on. It would not be until I
began writing this book 40 years later that I was able to
put all the puzzle pieces together. All I knew in
January 1978 was that I was terrified of losing the only
thing in the world that mattered to me... teaching dance.
So I put my nose to the ground and plugged away.
Epic Losing Streak continued. The whole point of the
dance project was to use dance to find a girlfriend.
Three years later and I was still wasn't getting anywhere.
However, I did have reason for optimism. Countless
pretty girls smiled at me in dance class. The sad
thing is that I was so busy I did not have the time, much
less the energy, to pursue them. But I knew my day was
at hand. When the frenzy abated, I intended to
approach one of those smiling girls. Too bad the
frenzy never seemed to abate. I was so busy, I even
wrote a poem about it.
Love never lasts,
I must carry on,
Keep my feet moving fast.
Then one day,
something totally off the wall took place to remind me the
Universe was still keeping a close eye on me. The
surprise appearance of a long-lost friend riveted my focus
back to the realm of Mysticism. I am about to take a
brief detour from my own saga in order to write about a
brother and sister whose lives seemed touched by Fate in a
manner similar to my own. The tale I am about to share
totally corroborates my belief in Fate. By the way,
have you guessed who yet? Put your seatbelt on.
This is a wild story.
At 9:50 am on a
Saturday morning in February, Maria Ballantyne walked into
Stevens of Hollywood. At the sight of my
heroine, I nearly fainted. This unexpected visit was
totally out of the ordinary. I had not seen this lady
in ten years. What is SHE doing here??
Full of panic, I retreated out of sight. Before I said
hello, first I needed to get my nerves under control.
arrived at the dance studio just a few minutes
before Mrs. Ballantyne made her surprise appearance.
I was here to teach a private dance lesson at 10 am.
Noticing Mrs. Ballantyne before she saw me, I had
the same thought today as I had on that fateful day
at the grocery store ten years earlier. 'Did
Mrs. Ballantyne come to see me?'
My parking lot
conversation with Mrs. Ballantyne had taken place at a time
when I was one step removed from suicide. I was
convinced her daughter Katina had been granted my coveted
scholarship because Mr. Salls was punishing me for cheating
on a German test. Totally despondent, Mrs. Ballantyne
took all my fears and made them disappear. To me, her
visit had been a Miracle. Mrs. Ballantyne's presence
that day had felt like a Godsend.
I had never
forgotten what took place. Indeed, my chance meeting
with Mrs. Ballantyne during my Senior year of high school
served as the main inspiration for my college decision to
investigate Fate. My life had never been the same
since. Thanks to that magical, mystical 1968 meeting,
I spent every waking moment on alert just in case another
coincidence or suspicious event came along to reinforce my
belief in Fate. That explains why I went on maximum 'Supernatural
Alert' the moment I saw Mrs. Ballantyne appear at the
studio. If this visit was anything like the previous
one, there would be fireworks.
MARIA BALLANTYNE 1968
It was 1968, my
Senior year in high school. How was I ever going to
pay for college? I was consumed with bitterness at my
classmates. These privileged young men and women went
to sleep every night knowing full well their parent's wealth
guaranteed them a college education. They had
absolutely nothing to worry about.
worked at a grocery store four days a week after school
trying to save up enough money to help pay for college.
I had accumulated $2,000 in savings, but that would never
pay the way to Georgetown University. I would need
$24,000 to attend Georgetown. Where would that money
come from? I targeted the Jones Scholarship as my last
hope to at least get a foot in the door. However, that
dream went up in smoke when Katina Ballantyne was awarded
the grant instead of me.
I plummeted into
a terrible tailspin. It had been a terrible mistake to
fail to apply to a state school. Now convinced that
Georgetown was out of the question, I expected I would have
to sit out a year before entering college here in Texas.
That meant being stuck with the insanity of Little Mexico
for another year. Out of curiosity, where could I find
the nearest bridge?
One week after I
lost the scholarship, into my life walked Mrs. Ballantyne.
She appeared one afternoon at the grocery store where I
worked. This was the woman I had once admired only to
come to hate. I believed she had helped her daughter
steal my scholarship. The rich just keep getting
richer. How could anyone justify seeing the poorest
kid in the school lose a scholarship to a rich girl from
At first I
thought Mrs. Ballantyne was here to see me. However,
after studying her carefully, I concluded she had chosen
this store for her weekly grocery shopping. Nothing
odd about that except that she had never been here before.
Seen from a Mystical point of view, the timing of her
unexpected visit immediately following the loss of my
scholarship was way out of the ordinary.
had no idea who I was. We had never spoken once in the
nine years I attended St. Johns, an elite prep school in the
River Oaks area. To my surprise, Mrs. Ballantyne
stopped me in the parking lot after I wheeled her groceries
to her car. She had just noticed my school uniform.
Once she realized I was a St. John's student, she was
consumed with curiosity. By definition, St. John's
students lack for nothing. So what was a St. John's
student doing here working a menial job at a grocery store?
On the spot,
Mrs. Ballantyne began conducting an interview. By
asking the right questions, in the space of ten minutes, she
knew more about me than any person at my school. I was
flabbergasted. Why was the most important woman at my
school willing to talk to a kid who occupied the lowest rung
on the social ladder? I was the school nobody, a
perpetual underdog, the Invisible Kid. If none of my
classmates bothered to interact with me socially, why would
this busy, rich, powerful woman bother to take time out of
her day to get to know me? Even more curious, why was
she here at this remote grocery store three miles from her
home to begin with?
After I answered
her questions, Mrs. Ballantyne wasn't done. Out of the
blue, Mrs. Ballantyne began to tell me her life story.
I was incredulous. Right there in the parking lot,
this woman voluntarily began to tell me, an unknown kid, the
story of her life. It was no ordinary story either.
Like me, Mrs. Ballantyne had a tale of woe straight out of
I learned that
Mrs. Ballantyne wasn't an orphan, but close. Both
parents were struggling Greek immigrants. Mrs.
Ballantyne had lost her mother when she was 11. After
the tragedy, her father fell to pieces and abandoned her.
She went to live with an aunt and uncle who were bullied by
her father into taking her. They had small children of
their own and money was tight. That made it a huge
imposition to suddenly have another child to raise.
Fortunately the initial distance evaporated, but for the
first year or so young Maria felt like an orphan. She
was placed in a bedroom directly over a casino and brothel
run by the mob on Galveston island. High school was
tough. There was little money to spare and she wasn't
allowed to date. Feeling like an outcast, Mrs.
Ballantyne concentrated on school. However, she did
not expect to go to college. Where would the money
Then one day, to
her surprise, a Galveston mob boss who had taken a shine to
her offered to pay her way to school. This offer, Mrs.
Ballantyne said, was the break of a lifetime. Out of
the blue, Mrs. Ballantyne had been given the chance she had
prayed for. Her life had skyrocketed ever since.
Mrs. Ballantyne had more to say. She explained that no
one at St. John's had any idea about her strange background.
Who could ever imagine that the most influential mother at
this wealthy enclave of the rich was the orphaned daughter
of a penniless, illiterate Greek immigrant?
At the time, I could not understand why such
an important woman was paying so much
attention to me. Keep in mind I wasn't the most savvy kid in the world.
suppose I must have reminded Mrs.
Ballantyne of her own difficult childhood. That
would surely explain her uncanny empathy for my situation.
I think once she realized how seriously depressed I was, she
decided on the spot I was in great need of encouragement. It was my good fortune that one of the
finest mothers on the Planet had decided to adopt me for a day.
At the end of her story, Mrs. Ballantyne looked me square in
the eye. "Rick, if I can do it, you can do it."
I had never forgotten those words.
combined with the critical timing of Mrs. Ballantyne's
mysterious visit made a deep impression on me. I was
convinced that Mrs. Ballantyne's out of the blue appearance
had to be a Supernatural Event. Surely some 'Invisible
Being' had guided her to my store that day. This
was the moment when I began to believe in Miracles.
I never forgot
my strange meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne.
unanswered question, of course, is how Mrs. Ballantyne came
to appear at my grocery store at such a critical time.
After all, she had passed me 1,000 times in the corridors of
St. John's and never said a word. I was convinced Fate
brought us together. My chance meeting with Mrs.
Ballantyne became the absolute cornerstone of my belief in
the odd features of our 1968 parking lot
conversation is that our paths did not cross again.
For whatever reason, I did not run into her at St.
John's during the remaining two months of school and
then I was off to college. Ten years had
passed since that mind-altering experience. It
was now 1978. Considering my
preoccupation with Destiny had elevated Mrs.
Ballantyne to a near-mythical status in my mind,
imagine my shock when she walked into the dance
studio without warning. Talk about déjà vu!!
This had all the makings of an instant replay.
What on earth was Mrs. Ballantyne doing here??
It was a
bitterly cold morning in February and things were
about to get worse tonight. A serious cold
front was sweeping down from Dallas in the north.
The night was predicted to get into the low
twenties, an unusually low temperature for Houston.
There are many Houston winters when the thermometer
never drops below freezing, but tonight would be the
exception. Given this awful weather, no one in
their right mind would venture out. For that
matter, maybe the cold had affected my mind or my
vision. For a moment, I thought I was
imagining things. But the disbelief wore off
quickly. This was definitely Mrs. Ballantyne.
I laughed nervously. Yes, this was another one
of those special Coincidences that bedevil me so.
In a manner identical to the parking lot
meeting ten years earlier, Mrs. Ballantyne had
popped up out of nowhere.
memories of the past rushed through my mind, I
noticed Mrs. Ballantyne had stopped there at the
entrance. Right now she was just standing there
looking around. The building was nearly empty.
Stevens was out on the main floor with a student,
but true to his nature he could not be bothered to
greet her. There was no receptionist.
Like I keep saying, this was a very small dance
studio. Just three people... Stevens, Alicia,
and me. Since no one talked to Mrs. Ballantyne
and she did not approach Stevens to ask a question,
I concluded that she had come here to find me.
What other explanation could there be?
But how did she even know I worked here?
finally overcame my shock enough to go say hello to
the woman who had changed my life. As I strode
to meet her, Mrs. Ballantyne recognized me
immediately. When I realized she was just as
surprised to see me as I was to see her, I had my
answer. No, she did not come here to see me.
This meeting was a complete accident just like the
last time. Here we go again!
about 'once in a lifetime' chance
meetings. This was twice in a lifetime. How
unlikely was our second meeting? I contend it
was just as remote as the first one. Going
back to October 1977, I had never seen Mrs.
Ballantyne here during my six months of employment.
On the other hand, Stevens of Hollywood
was fairly close to her home. Located on
Westheimer and Shepherd, the studio was only a mile
away. Maybe she came here for dance lessons.
Or maybe one of her children was getting married and
they needed dance lessons. I definitely
intended to find out.
Ballantyne's face lit up like a Christmas tree.
I have never seen anyone turn on the energy like
Mrs. Ballantyne. She took a big step forward
and wrapped her arms around me in a huge,
affectionate hug. Then she set me free and
took a step back to look me over.
"Rick Archer, what are you doing here? Of
all the people to run into! Oh my gosh,
let me have a look at you. You're so tall
and handsome! Where the heck have you
been? Why haven't you been to see me?"
Ballantyne made me laugh. I had spoken to this
woman one time in my life and now she greeted me
like we had known each other forever. Hmm.
Maybe we had known each other forever. Always
the extrovert, Mrs. Ballantyne took the lead.
She immediately began peppering me with questions.
explained how I had begun teaching here and
emphasized what an exciting time this was for me.
Mrs. Ballantyne was genuinely pleased to see I was
doing well in my life. In fact, she was
fascinated by my odd new career.
Unfortunately, our talk was interrupted.
Mrs. Ballantyne, I would love to talk more, but I
have two dance students waiting for me." I
pointed to the couple that had just walked in the
no, I have to know more! Are you free for
course I was free. I would have dropped
anything I was doing just to have another talk with
her. This lady had no way of knowing the
degree of importance she had played in my life.
After all, I had spent two solid years in college
thinking every day about the implications of our
parking lot conversation.
would love to have lunch with you, but can it wait
till 11:30 or? Will that work?"
Ballantyne smiled and said that would be fine.
"Of course. Why not come over at noon?
That will give me time to run some errands."
confused. Come over where? Did she mean
do you want to meet?" I asked.
house. Do you know where it is?"
and said no, so she gave me the address and
directions. Then to my surprise, she abruptly
departed. As I watched her go out the door, I
still had no idea why Mrs. Ballantyne had been here
in the first place. Why did she leave so fast?
Her departure made no sense. Surely she had to
have a reason to walk in the door. I rolled my
eyes. Why was this woman always such a riddle
mind working overtime on Supernatural Alert, I
concluded Mrs. Ballantyne had been guided to my
studio for some obscure reason that became
unimportant once she saw me. Figuring the
Cosmic Social Director had arranged our latest
Supernatural encounter, I left it at that.
Sometimes it is easier just to accept Fate and not
ask too many questions. What was important was
that my idol had invited me to her home. I
felt very flattered. I had expected a nearby
coffee shop, so this was quite an honor.
I had no trouble
finding Mrs. Ballantyne's home. After I lost my Jones
Scholarship to Katina in 1968, I became so bitter I looked
up her address in the St. John's directory. Overcome
by my Rich Man-Poor Man grudge, I wanted to confirm with my
own eyes what kind of house Katina lived in. After
school the next day, I had driven by their house.
satisfaction, I confirmed my hunch that the Ballantyne
family lived in a very attractive River Oaks home.
This had given further fuel to the feeling my loss had been
highway robbery. Fortunately that terrible grudge had
vaporized during our lengthy parking lot conversation.
As I pulled into
the Ballantyne driveway at noon, I felt nothing but joy at
reuniting with my special benefactor. Once I was
inside, I was surprised to see the house was empty except
for Mrs. Ballantyne and her maid who prepared lunch.
As I looked around for signs of the seven children, Mrs.
"A lot has
changed in the past ten years. My children moved
out long ago. They are busy pursuing their own
lives. Now it is just Jay and me. Right now
Jay is up on the roof with a winter project, so it's
just the two us. Let's catch up on things!"
Mrs. Ballantyne told me how proud she was
that I had received a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins.
That was interesting... not once today had I told her about
that scholarship. How did she know about my
scholarship? And how did she know where I went to
college? After the parking lot conversation, not once
in the remaining two months of school did our paths cross
Ballantyne, how do you know so much about me?"
was more than happy to clue me in.
"After we met, I was
very curious about you.
So I spoke to my friend
Charlie one day when he
was here at the house.
Charlie filled me in on
your unusual story.
We had a very good laugh
that day. You
probably don't know
this, but Charlie had a
childhood very similar
paused. "And very
similar to yours too!"
stared at Mrs. Ballantyne in
Charlie was the nickname
for Mr. E.K. 'Charlie'
Salls, my Headmaster. I had
no idea she knew him that
well. I had seen Mrs.
Ballantyne walk with Mr.
Salls in the corridors of
St. John's on many
occasions, but I had not
realized they knew each
other socially. This
seemed like a coincidence in
itself. The two most
important people to me had
also been important to each
other as well.
"Charlie would kill me
if he knew I was sharing
his story, but I think
you would be interested.
He grew up penniless on
a remote island off the
coast of Maine.
His father died when he
was young and his only
brother died when
Charlie was a teenager.
He and his mother
Charlie's odd jobs at
the fishery and his
no idea Mr. Salls had grown
up poor like me. We
formed a very unusual
triangle... three poor
people who had ended up at
the wealthiest prep school
in Houston. What were
"Charlie was an
exceptional student, the
top of his class.
Of course, on a small
island in Maine, I
cannot imagine he had
Charlie was a voracious
reader and determined to
make something of
himself. At a
teacher's suggestion, he
took an exam at Exeter,
the fine New England
was accepted and given a
scholarship which he
then parlayed into a
scholarship at Harvard.
Does that story sound
familiar? You and
he have almost identical
backgrounds with your
raced to gather in all the implications.
I guess my mouth was hanging open because Mrs.
Ballantyne laughed at me. Seeing the
incredulous look on my face, she acknowledged the
importance of this revelation.
you know why your Headmaster took you under his
wing. You reminded Charlie so much of
himself that there were times when he ached for
you during your difficult Senior year. But
Charlie has never been one to discuss such
things openly, so I had to pry it out of him.
I am the only person at St. John's who can get
Charlie to talk. I have a knack for that."
kidding. Who could resist a woman with her
kind of will power? Right now I was too
dumb-founded to speak, so Mrs. Ballantyne continued.
have always found it curious how the three of us
seem to be connected." Mrs. Ballantyne
paused for a moment, then continued.
"Sometimes it makes me wonder about things."
kidding! That makes two of us! First I
rolled my eyes. Then I pinched myself.
No, I wasn't dreaming. At this point, we
finished our lunch. Mrs. Ballantyne invited me
to come sit with her in the living room. As I
watched her settle into her favorite chair, I had
another flash of déjà vu. Mrs. Ballantyne had
the same look on her face that she did ten years ago
when she decided to tell me her life story.
Sure enough, my hunch was right. Mrs.
Ballantyne picked up her life story right where she
left off ten years ago. In so doing, she made
the 1968 parking lot conversation seem like it was
Rick Archer's Footnote:
Ballantyne was a genuine hero to me.
did Mrs. Ballantyne save my life with her parking
lot intervention, the utter improbability of the
incident opened the door to my search for God two
years later during the Magical Mystery Tour.
After much thought, I concluded I had witnessed a
can gather, Maria Ballantyne is the unquestioned
inspirational figure of my life. I worshipped
her just like a kid worships the fireman who saves
him from a burning fire. My interest in this
lady was so intense that one might wonder.
However, there was nothing to worry about.
Given Mrs. Ballantyne's importance to me, I had too
much respect to invade her privacy. In
the seven times we met over a 45 year period, the
only time I ever contacted her was the last visit.
said, I did wonder sometimes why she was so candid
with me. My second 'Accidental' meeting
with Mrs. Ballantyne was just as fascinating as our
first meeting. As Mrs. Ballantyne shared her
details about Mr. Salls... how their families had
adjacent beach houses down in Galveston, how she and
'Charlie' became friends, how their daughters
were best friends, how he worried about me, etc...
it crossed my mind that Mr. Salls and Mrs.
Ballantyne were unusually close.
I suppose given
their difficult childhoods and the college scholarships that
became their lucky break, it made sense that their unusual
background would join Mr. Salls and Mrs. Ballantyne
together. However, there were several issues that
struck me as peculiar. First, given their roots in
poverty, it was amazing they both made it to St. John's,
land of the rich. Second, Mrs. Ballantyne was very
secretive at St. John's about her past. Since Mr.
Salls was equally secretive, it would be interesting to
learn how they discovered each other's secret.
Finally, there was their interest in me, the token poor kid
of St. John's.
Have you ever
just met a person and felt as if you knew them before?
Based on my instantaneous attraction to Mrs. Ballantyne and
Mr. Salls, I had no trouble believing I had known them both
from a previous lifetime. From the start, I felt a
powerful kinship without understanding why.
Considering the important roles they played in my life, I
felt certain this Triangle was a Fated Relationship.
John's was the last place someone would look for
people with impoverished backgrounds. It was
strange enough to find three people with such humble
beginnings end up at this wealthy enclave.
However, it was not just that all three of us faced
hardship as children. What was important was
that the three of us were so deeply connected here
at St. John's. Surely this was not a
how we were united in such a strange way, I was
reminded of something I read in a book on
Reincarnation based on the life of Edgar Cayce.
During his trances, Cayce laid out a philosophy of
life dealing with Karma, rebirth, man's role in the
cosmic order, and the existence of a Hidden World.
In one of his readings, Cayce said that individuals
reincarnate in 'Soul Groups'. In this
way, they can work on whatever Karma they shared
from past lifetimes.
As I sat
that day in Mrs. Ballantyne's house, I had all sorts
of burning questions to ask. For one thing, I
wanted to know what
Ballantyne thought about our strange meeting ten
I wanted to
know what prompted Mrs. Ballantyne to appear at my
out-of-the-way Weingarten's grocery store in the
first place. I wanted to know what crossed her
mind during that conversation.
the event from her perspective, I wondered if Mrs.
Ballantyne had been shocked to meet a young man who
reminded her so much of herself. Most of all,
I wanted to know if she had taken note of the
supernatural ramifications of that meeting.
wanted to know what had brought Mrs. Ballantyne to
Stevens of Hollywood on this day. Since my
return to Houston in 1974 following Colorado State,
I had not had a single contact with a member of the
St. John's community, not even Mr. Salls. Due
to my outsider status at that school, I made no
lasting friendships. I suppose it was possible
that a St. John's student had noticed me teaching a
dance class over the past month and passed word to
Mrs. Ballantyne. But that was highly unlikely.
I had only spoken to this woman one time in my life,
so who would know of our secret connection?
Besides, the look on her face today revealed her
visit was a complete accident. She was just as
surprised to see me as I was to see her.
concluded she had no idea I worked there, it was
eating me alive to learn what had brought Mrs.
Ballantyne to the dance studio today. However,
once Mrs. Ballantyne got started, I was far too shy
to speak up. Mrs. Ballantyne had the most
dominant personality of any woman I had ever met.
I did not dare to interrupt her
as she talked about Mr. Salls. Instead I
remained quiet and hoped for a chance to bring up my
questions. Sorry to say, I never got that
chance. Once Mrs. Ballantyne launched into the
story of her life, I was too blown away to say a
know what? It was okay. In a way I did
get an answer to my questions. Here is the
weird thing... Mrs. Ballantyne was clearly
fascinated with me. From the moment I sat
down, after a brief exchange of pleasantries, she
started talking about herself as if I was her oldest
and most trusted friend in the whole wide world.
There were times when I almost wondered if I should
take dictation. Why would she tell me all
these secrets? After all, this was only the
second time in our lives we had met. In a
flash, I had my answer.
crossed my mind that Mrs. Ballantyne was speaking to
me in such a candid way because she knew we were
Ballantyne was a very smart woman. Surely she
too realized the deeper implications of our chance
meeting ten years ago. Not just that, I bet
she realized that meeting me again today was no more
'accidental' than the first time. If
nothing else, today's chance meeting underlined our
spiritual connection. We were meant to meet
today. I believe that and I bet Mrs. Ballantyne
believed it too.