In 1985 I moved from Amarillo, Texas, to a cottage in Castroville, a historic little Alsatian town nestled in the Medina River Valley 15 miles west of San Antonio. It was at that time that I was physically led by mysterious forces to members of my spiritual family – to Bea Gabriel and our work with her deceased husband, artist Herman Gabriel.

It all began one day while I was working at my new job with the San Antonio Museum Association in downtown San Antonio. I called a bookstore to inquire about the availability of a certain book, and to my surprise, the lady who answered the call invited me to a discussion group that was meeting at her home that evening. I briefly jotted down the instructions and subsequently threw away the slip of paper because I knew I would never find the location; it was at least 30 miles from Castroville.

That evening, about 6 o'clock, I had a sudden urge, or rather an obsessive desire, to go to the discussion group! How could I find it since I threw away the instructions? I vaguely remembered her conversation:
I was to go to one of the suburbs off I35North, Windcrest exit, turn left between two churches with steeples, wind around the golf course and … and then I went blank! Oh well, I told myself, the drive won't hurt me and I might learn a little about this new city. I was sure that I wouldn't find the group, and yet, I felt a strong urge to try.

Dazed and reprimanding myself for my madness, I drove the 15 miles from Castroville into San Antonio, and on to I35N. I found the Windcrest exit, the two churches with steeples, and the golf course. I abruptly pulled over to the curb to stare in shock at the vast sea of suburbia that suddenly surrounded me, only to realize that I had no idea where to go in the impending darkness. I was lost. It became clear that I had to give up my crazy quest and find my way back home to Castroville.

I pulled away from the curb, entered the heavy line of traffic, and found myself following a car with two elderly people inside. After several maze–like turns they entered a cul–de–sac, drove around the end–curve and pulled up in front of a house on the corner. A few moments later they exited the car, strolled down the entry sidewalk, and, without knocking, entered the front door. I reasoned that they must live here, and it seemed safe enough, so I decided to knock on the door and ask them for directions back to Castroville.

I exited my car, followed the sidewalk to the front door, and rang the doorbell. Almost immediately a younger–looking and quite beautiful woman opened the door, looked at me with a recognizable smile and said, “Vivis! Come in! We were hoping you would make it! I'm Sandy.” She jokingly remarked that she often visited the bookstore and didn't think it strange to answer the phone; however, it was the first time that she had ever invited a stranger to her home!

Stunned, I passed through the open arms of the group, at last gravitating to a beautiful elderly lady named Bea Gabriel, who said, as she kissed me, “Welcome home, Vivis. Welcome back to our spiritual family.”

And so began my mystic journey in Texas with Bea and our work with Gabriel's art.

Oh yes – the elderly couple that led me to the house? Their names were Mary and Joseph!

_ VivisVan