In March 2011, as I awaited a tsunami in Hawaii, my midlife crisis was answered by an incredible dream. I was shown the mechanics of something wonderful. The message was simple: all I needed was imagination and will to create change in the world. I had been unhappy for a decade, feeling I was a victim of soul-crushing societal programming and parental pressures to climb the corporate ladder and found that happiness was promised just over the next hill time and time again. I felt like the cranky old man who tells stories of how he had to walk uphill to school in the snow both ways as a child.
After the dream, I took charge of my life. I started writing, lost 100 pounds, and got back into shape. Over the next two years I wrote in hotel rooms, on dinner napkins, on airplanes, and texted myself ideas as I drove or hiked: whenever inspiration struck. I incorporated what I saw in that first dream into my own life and into the observations of the world around me. I captured every epiphany I experienced until I had over 300 pages of notes and anecdotes.
As I edited God, Gravity, and the Change Between the Couch Cushions, I came to a fork in the road. I felt the journey ahead was my choice. I could apply what I learned to serve myself or to serve others. I tried for two years to deny my experience as religious intervention. You see, I was raised Lutheran. What my wife likes to call “Catholic-Lite”. However, I had never felt a connection to God or my church. I grew more agnostic with each passing year until I actually became anti-organized religion. I wasn’t an Atheist or anti-God, but I saw the transgressions and failures of organized religion as a fatal flaw in logic and reason. This was compounded by such news as religious groups attempting to pass laws against critical thinking. I had my degree in systems engineering and although science and religion did not conflict with each other in my life, when your neighbor builds a fence it makes you wonder why.
My journey of discovery would have been easier to explain as a religious experience but I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself. The elation I felt and the epiphanies that I saw, even the choice of words I used to describe my new understanding were unlike anything I had written before. I always loved science fiction and if given the choice, I imagined writing such a book later in life. Philosophy was not my strong suit. In college, I earned a ‘C’ in Philosophy. However, the tone and texture of my writing was now focused on philosophy and ethics.
In late February 2013, everything was rushing to a decisive point. My visions became more insistent and during a trip to Minnesota to visit family, the dam final broke. During an incredible night I learned the power of confession and forgiveness and that ultimately, we are each responsible for our own salvation. I had chosen the path to follow God and the Divine Pattern of God’s Image within myself. I would endeavor to annihilate my own ego and piously remove myself from earthly attachments. In the space my ego had occupied within my heart, I would endeavor to fill that emptiness with the Holy Spirit and God’s Grace and to become an instrument of His Will.
In April 2013, two events happened at nearly the same time. Several numbers kept coming up in my life and one night I ‘Googled’ the number 662 on a lark. That simple action opened a flood gate of discovery. One coincidence became two, then four, then sixteen onward and upward at a geometric rate. As I turned this corner of discovery, I was reunited with an old friend, David. David was in my unit in Alaska and an old friend from my Support Platoon. I knew David was Catholic so as we caught up, I described what I experienced and he shared some of his own experiences from Iraq. Although I attributed my original dream and all the subsequent life changing experiences to God, I was still firmly against organized religion. However, in a single evening talking with David, even that final bulwark collapsed.
I started to read. A LOT. Mainly early Christian Mystics and several Saints that I encountered along the way. I wasn’t looking for answers. I was looking for teachers able to craft their experiences and contemplation on the Divine in such a way so that I may discover my own truths within my heart. I’ll share each of those books and what I learned from them in future blog posts. It is heartbreaking that so many unhappy people in desperate need of spiritual counsel from all faiths avoid such authors because they associate Saints with the Catholic Church. I am not Catholic but I assure you that there are no better spokespeople or resources for such diverse and intrinsically valuable contemplation as these legends of spirituality.