In the deepest silence, one could see great suffering in my friend's face. Looking blank he seemed to be living in another world. His focus of attention appeared to be in worlds that were very distant from the one I was in. Time passed very slowly and I looked at him without knowing what to do. Suddenly he started to drool a thin unbroken thread of saliva. His neck was bending as if it could not support his head. He showed incredible suffering and also a profound dignity that was difficult to describe. Strangely, I perceived that my friend appeared to radiate an extraordinary, and immaculate beauty. I discovered that day, purely by experience, the relationship that exists between suffering and beauty. Nothing can stand in the way of what is lived, in the way of what one experiences for oneself.

I felt bewildered by this solemnity of the moment. The dignity that my friend radiated moved me deeply. Time appeared to have stopped. A little later Jimmy appeared —as always in the body of my friend—, he got up from the bed and sat in a chair. He was very serious.

"What's happening, Jimmy?" I asked worriedly.

"Your friend is suffering. At this very moment he's facing the gates of hell," he told me with deep sorrow.

I knew how hard my friend was treated. It was as if a certain type of error was not permitted. He accepted it with ease and I could see how he was taking great strides forward in his development. Nevertheless, what was happening appeared excessive to me. I felt a profound pain imagining my friend in such danger.

"No, no, no!" I rushed towards Jimmy, shouting at him.

I would have given my life to ensure that the vessel containing such immense dignity would continue living, and I expressed myself in those terms. Then my friend appeared and took me by surprise. The body that with Jimmy was straight and erect was suddenly without any support. My friend's head fell violently, bouncing on his desk. His face was altered and he could hardly raise his eyes. I gave thanks to God for being able to see him again even if it was in that state.

He told me with starting eyes that he had stood in front of the gates of hell and that the true pain came from feeling distant from God.

"It was an unbearable pain," he said to me.

We were really exhausted and we said goodbye. I could not stop thinking about his look of suffering. We saw each other the next day and I was still affected. He, on the other hand, was fine and that made me feel better. Certainly, he did seem a little different. We never talked again about what had happened and I think I remember, though I'm not certain, that Jimmy finally told me that he had erased that event from his memory.

THE KNIGHT

I can still remember with great clarity how everything related to my friend was vested with a special light. If an object appeared to have no importance whatsoever, it would acquire it, as if by magic, in his presence, at his touch, due to his way of picking it up, of demonstrating it.

Right from the start certain symbols were associated with him. Symbols that point to what I would describe as the spiritual realm. That condition that remained hidden to physical eyes, just like someone who because of his material position in the world is a beggar, may be a prince due to the nobility of his soul. "One only sees well with the eyes of the heart," Jimmy used to say, taking a phrase from Le Petit Prince.

I remember the first of the symbols. That day I went into his bedroom, he was studying. My glance fell on the shelf of books on which was standing a small reproduction. In it, a medieval knight dressed in red garments appeared majestically. Jimmy had brought it for him.

"A knight? "What has it got to do with this?" I said to myself puzzled.