James Twyman answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


Oh, my goodness. The first thing that springs to mind is something that happened to me when I was 18 years old, and I recently had the chance to thank this person, by the way. When I was 18, I left home in Minnesota, went to Chicago, and wanted to become a Franciscan. I've always been in love with St. Francis of Assisi, so I entered the Franciscan order in Chicago. And I was also going to Loyola University, so I was living with the Franciscans, being educated by the Jesuits. I had a writing project. I don't remember what class it was for, but I had to write a prose piece. It was a longer piece, so it was almost like a short book. And so I chose to write a piece about Francis — a very creative, poetic piece about the life of St. Francis.

I didn't know if it was very good. I enjoyed it. I really loved writing it because it allowed me to bring out my passion for his life. And there was a priest living there at our Franciscan community named Father James McCurry. And Father James was living with us at our house of studies because even though he was a priest, he was finishing his doctoral program in literature. So I figured Father James would be a good person to show this to and say, "What do you think?" And I did show it to him, and he read it and came back to me, and he said, "James, you have a real talent for writing. This is really good. You should explore that."

Well, that was the first encouragement I ever received from anyone about anything I'd ever written. And as you can see, I took it to heart. I always remembered that. And many years later, after writing 16 books, and I think two or three books now about St. Francis himself and many other things that I am inspired by, it kind of all goes back to Father James and his willingness to encourage me and just to give me that support.

I actually had a phone conversation with Father James a week ago, and it was the first time I've talked to him in well over 30 years, probably 35 years, and I recounted that story to him. I thought it would be nice for him to know that he had an impact on my life and on my career. And he said he actually remembers that. He remembers that piece. He remembers telling me that, which in and of itself was a beautiful thing. 

So that's the first thing that comes into my mind, something very nice that someone did that changed my life. And for all the people who've read my books over the years, I guess it in some way changed millions of other lives. So I'll always be very grateful for Father James for that.

James Twyman is the New York Times bestselling author of 16 books including The Moses Code and Emissary of Light. He is also known around the world as the Peace Troubadour, having traveled many to countries at war to share the prayers of peace from the world’s 12 major religions he put to music in 1994. 

He has been invited by peace organizations and even the leaders of countries to Bosnia, Iraq, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Syria, and many other countries to initiate world synchronized meditations while battles raged around him. Each time, millions of people participated, and miracles have often followed. 

James has recorded more than 15 albums and has produced or directed six films including Redwood Highway and Indigo. In 2018 he was consecrated a Franciscan Hermit and now lives in Ajijic, Mexico where he founded Namaste Lake Chapala, an interfaith peace community.

Click here to visit James’ website.

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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 19: Plant Medicine for Modern Epidemics Summit