The Words of the Salonen Family
When I was sixteen I went to Denmark as an exchange student for eight months. I had had through my childhood a great desire to be what I called a "humanitarian," and I felt that this was my first opportunity. As a result of my evaluation of what an exchange student's responsibility should be, I absorbed European ways while remaining as much an American as I in truth was. When I returned home and attempted to reconcile the two nearly opposite ways of thinking, I found that there had been a battle raging within me between the two sets of ideals, and in the end, I saw that all the soldiers on both sides had been killed. I was left believing in nothing, having nothing to support me, having, I felt, not even myself, because I no longer knew what I was.
I went to college only because that seemed to be the next thing to do. During my first year there I had an experience of the meaninglessness, the nothingness, of the world and all its moral and religious and intellectual structures. I knew only myself to be real, and I felt that I could depend upon nothing but myself. The following year was one of extreme depression, of equally extreme "highness," during which I felt very near to God. Then everything collapsed. Finances forced me to leave college. I became very ill, and I lost again the feeling of closeness to God.
I went home feeling that I had experienced a "fall from grace." I had lost everything except hope, and life was unbearable. I couldn't get along with my family, and I couldn't get a job so that I could leave home and eventually return to college. I returned to Stanford for one weekend in 1961. One night as I was sitting in the room in which I was staying, trying to write in "my book," I suddenly felt that I had been removed into another dimension, where I could see the world at some time in the future. That world was all dark and desolate and filled with a great sorrow and despair. I could see a few points of light scattered over the world, but from San Francisco shone a great light over the whole continent. Along wit the vision came a knowledge that this would occur in a short time -- probably within five years -- that I would be here at the time, and that it was here I would begin my work.
I went home, and nothing had changed in my daily life. But immediately after that I found a job scrubbing floors and peeling potatoes and serving food in a logging camp and earned just enough money to leave home. At the same time a friend of mine write me from Berkeley saying she needed a roommate, and I found a job in San Francisco. Everything had suddenly opened up, and I came back to the Bay Area. But I still felt far away from my God. So I read everything I could find, hoping to find Him there. I tried living life in all the ways people recommended to me; I tried everything at least once and was still very unhappy. In the meantime, my great project was getting back to school. Finally I entered Cal this last fall. Everything went along as I had determined to have it until the assassination of President Kennedy, which affected me deeply.
At one point, I realized that all of the structures of human civilization had been built upon a very thin crust, and under that crust lay a seething mass of something very uncivilized which sometime erupted into the world. No one had ever driven piles down to the very bottom of this mass to support the human structures, no one had ever made a solid foundation, and no one seemed to realize it. I determined once again that, although I did not know how it could be done, I had to work to build a real foundation, even if it took my whole life just to place one brick on the bottom. I lost all interest in school and finally withdrew a few weeks before finals; I forgot all my plans for my life and resolved to let myself be led wherever I must go. All this time, I had kept the vision of 1961 in the back of my mind and was looking for an explanation of it.
In December I saw an advertisement which Edwin Ang and Elke Klawiter (van der Stok) had placed in the student newspaper saying that, "Christ was on earth." -- Part of my mind said, "this is it! -- And part of my mind told me that these people must be a "bunch of nuts." But I investigated. Despite the changes which I experienced in myself and several experiences which I had (mainly short periods of clairvoyance), and despite the impression which the members of the Principles made upon me, I found it difficult to tame my "rational mind." But I have finally formally accepted the Principles and am now trying to bring that acceptance into a deeper reality.