As I was coming out of the dream I heard myself say: Holiness is not something attainable, rather it arises in each of us from an authentic heart—an invincible preciousness, as my friend Jim would say.
There are decisions and choice points in each of our lives that are the needle piercing the cloth, carrying the thread that weaves its way into the markings of the journey. My choice point began at sixteen in the back seat of a Lincoln Continental–heavy make out sessions with my boyfriend Dan in his father’s car, followed by reading Khalil Gibran aloud to one another– a sensuous world punctuated by ancient wisdom. The religious experience, if you will, as put forth by Rumi—“there is some kiss we want with our whole life—It is the touch of the spirit upon the body.”
In the early days I simply experimented, open to anything that lifted my eyes toward the heavens and burrowed into my depths—dropping acid and looking for God in the Sierras; driving to Ojai to be with Swami Satchidanda as he conducted Sat Sang. Later I sat in churches with broad theological brush strokes that were inclusive; read A Course in Miracles and meditated until I was dizzy. It was chaos that would one day make sense. I became a lay scholar, reading Howard Thurman and Reinhold Niebuhr, trying to wrap my head around the spiritual life , only to create a sticky affectation that would later require peeling away.
To put it in perspective now: All the gurus and meditation, the silence of prayer and the beauty of cathedrals did not bring me any closer to enlightenment than my Labrador retriever and the joy of walking him in the woods. The authentic heart arises as I sit on my deck and watch the neighborhood march its children to the bus stop bundled like little Michelin men in parkas and hats, accompanied by parents and dogs who are part of the life ritual. God is not in the chalice, but in mittens dropped in the snow.