My name is Jeannie Hoffman and I have loved Ms. Dantes for a very long time…..it was the late 80’s and I learned about a weekend contemplative retreat that she was facilitating at La Casa de Maria…..I was recently divorced and searching for my real place in the world. I had never driven to Santa Barbara by myself before, I didn’t know anyone who was going to be there, it was late October, dark, and my trip to the dormitory there was surreal. I was met at the door by a smiling Joanne Crandall ~someone I was to get to know and love very much, who gave me a white mum attached to a piece of paper that said: “Welcome to our home for the weekend.” It was surely that….
My life was forever changed by our teacher, Ms. Dantes….the woman we honor and remember today. Ms. Dantes was surely a mystic who tapped into that mystical thread present in all Truth.
Several years back, the movie The Secret was released with all manner of spiritual teachers bringing forth information. It was well received, I believe, and I viewed it with interest also. There was a man wearing a hat who spoke with a voice I remembered; I could close my eyes, listen to him, and remember with longing, something…..I could not quite put my finger on it, until the very end when the credits rolled and I saw the man’s name…Amit Goswami…..a professor in an Oregon University, who came to La Casa to do a retreat with Ms. Dantes…….a scientist and a mystic; and at the end of this most wonderful retreat, one could not detect who was the scientist and who was the mystic….there was no difference.
When it came to me that I wanted to volunteer for her and her work, Joanne told me to speak with Ms. Dantes who had only one question for me: “What is it you never want to do?!” It was as easy as that…..and I learned from her how to serve others….not just give them what it is I think they need.
Expectations have had their way with me and Ms. Dantes helped me see how I was keeping myself in bondage by my expectations of my brothers; my mom had come to live with me before she died and my brothers were giving me a hard time with the finances needed for her care. I was tired and very sad…had talked to some people at my church center who tried to help me and finally I had the good sense to call my friend at Woodhaven House in Nipomo where Ms. Dantes was residing. I didn’t need to give her very many words before she inquired if she could ask a question……”have your brothers worked as hard on themselves as you have?” When I said no, she replied.”they are where you were.” Not only did those words set me free…..I still remember them when expectations arise in me.
One of my favorite retreats I did with her was a volunteer retreat at the Camaldoli Monastery in Big Sur….I think there were only 5 of us and we each had our own cell….I remember thinking every night that I wanted to be aware of the precise moment when night ended and day began…..it was such beautiful space. I remember foxes walking on fences….prayer benches for meditation, and peace that filled my mind as my heart was calmed and soothed.
I was introduced to Noetic Science ~ IONS~ and I recall sharing a room with Joanne in San Diego because Ms. Dantes was speaking at that convention; I have kept some of those IONS friends.
I had not seen Ms. Dantes since she moved to Santa Barbara; I was so happy to hear that she was closer in distance to me and was certain that I would see her more……I am sad that I did not. I am so happy to share with you that being trained by her to give compassionate service changed my life and helped me find my true vocation. What she gave to me is in me and I am forever and ever grateful that on one dark October night many years ago, I had the courage to step into the unknown toward my teacher.