This was hard for me but obviously not sufficiently so. I still remember two further occasions in which my moral behavior left much to be desired. On each one of them the end result was equally painful; the following one always worse than the previous one.

All I will add is that from then on I never took anything that did not belong to me even if it was abandoned. I got rid of a conscience that was diaphanous when it came to deciding what was mine and what was not, what I could use and what I could not, and I let that new approach transcend the entire range of my behavior. This is something that for many people, while leading a normal life, is not so apparent, deep down inside. I've come to know many culturally and professionally well-educated people who do not have that clarity regarding the limits of their potential actions. In some people that distinctive streak is both common and characteristic and inevitably it appears at critical moments. I always think that those people could have used a lesson such as the one that I received. No doubt that over time they would have felt very grateful, just as I feel now.

That was the way one learned from Jimmy, at least that was my experience. He was a hard teacher but it was difficult to reproach him. He was definitely very funny. That was not the only lesson that I learned and I hope that I've provided a faithful view of what I consider to be my learning process at that time.

In the end it is not a matter of talking about me. That is not the important thing. Even so, I would like to add that during that year a certain fanaticism grew in me, a certain incomprehension towards others, a gleam of pride susceptible to growth if not cut out by the roots. Before ending this learning process —as will be clear at the end of this chapter— that pride and incomprehension turned into heartfelt humility through a crisis process that was very important to me.

JIMMY AND GOD

Right from the start, Jimmy made it clear that this was a mission from the spiritual world. He came from the other side of the threshold, behind the portal that one goes through at the time of physical death, with that very finality. He also made it clear that he was an intermediary, the link before the last in the chain, and that we were the last one. He was guided, just as he guided us.

Sometimes he talked to me about how he lived in that spiritual world. He said he drank from the live waters of the Spirit, or that God laughed a lot with him. Nothing too difficult to imagine.

Jimmy tended not to repeat himself; he said things once. If you asked him about something he had already said, you would receive the same answer. But once he had said one thing he moved on to the next. Thus, right from the start, he ordered us to lead a Christian life in all ways; to participate in the sacraments, to read holy texts, to carry Christ in our souls so that we could coexist with a spiritual world.

Jimmy spoke with clarity. Then you had total freedom to do what you wanted. But certainly, he always appeared if problems arose. I know that he was very strict with my friend, especially at the beginning. He had to change his behavior in many ways. But I would say that on this subject, more than on any other, he left it up to us to decide. At least that is how it was in my case.

To be honest, I was not very comfortable with the religious world. I never doubted the existence of a Divine world but I did not have any faith in people who had nothing further, and certain attitudes appeared to me to be susceptible to insanity on very slippery —as I told myself— grounds. Purely from my personal experience, only the sacrament of the Eucharist was appealing to me.

If you asked Jimmy he would say: "Eat that sacred bread! A lot had to happen for you to be able to live the body and the blood of Christ." But he never repeated it.

From a very young age, this world appeared to me to be the scene of a hidden battle between the forces of Good and those of Evil. Evil surprises me because of its inner violence and its closeness to man. I felt that there was a great general human hypocrisy in not treating this subject openly and that confrontation with the core of the subject was always avoided. I saw a lot of disorientation and confusion in the world and in me.