Even before I became inspired by Paul's message, Dr. Lebensohn insisted that I participate in conversations.
"You can't be so involved in yourself," he would say. "You must reach out to others. Only then will you discover that people are approachable, interesting and have problems as you do; that you are connected to them."
Every day he required I talk with people. I did as I was told. Despite my feelings of inferiority and self-doubt, I forced myself to strike up conversations with passengers on my flights or those I would run into in Warrenton. Dr. Lebensohn was the wise, self-aware parent I never had. His position of authority and professionalism compelled me to direct my attention away from the attractiveness of my disease and towards a life outside myself even though it was more difficult and scary. His clarity and kindness inspired me to seek out others rather than retreat into the self absorbed pull of my own foggy dream world.
Paul's message was also clear. It flowed from a story of difficulty and redemption to which I could easily relate. His writing conveyed a wise and persevering man of God who had discovered what was right and true after leaving a corrupted life. Initially I found his unequivocal message offensive, morally conservative, and intolerant of my chosen modern life style. His use of words, however, his images and the logical pattern of his thoughts inspired me to work beneath my first impressions to find the beauty and compassion that was undeniable. And it was this kind of inspiring beauty I began to find in my conversations with others.
To be continued ...