Category: Memoirs

Two Kinds of Magic Moment

One of my many privileges in life, and there are a lot of them, is to live in a place of great natural beauty. Accustomed to seasons of changing leaves, barren trees, snowfall, the budding, fragrant spring, and the majesty of a summer thundershower in my childhood in Germany, admittedly the low rate of seasonal change in California took some getting used to.

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The Burning

It’s been a trying time. Within my own extended family in the past couple months there has been a failed adoption, several trips to urgent care, a surgery, and a layoff. A line from Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Crossing keeps coming to mind: “Doomed enterprises divide lives forever into the then and the now.”

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An Unexpected Benefit of Studying the Mystics

For some reason, I’ve always been interested in sources of inspiration and creativity – the guy behind the guy in a sense. So if someone is an influential musician, say, I want to know who had influenced them. In college I dug into some of the inspirations for artists like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles, going back into the catalogue of early 20th century masters like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, and so on. I wanted to hear that originating source.

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Thoughts from the Friary

Recently I went and spent a weekend on personal retreat at the Franciscan Centre in Dorset, England – Hilfield Friary. My purpose for going was to take a couple of days out of my work schedule as a writer, speaker and retreat leader to just go and ‘be’ in the Divine presence in a space created for stillness. I was, for all intents and purposes, practicing what I preach.

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My First Mystical Experience

It was an autumn afternoon at Vassar College. I had stayed up the previous night writing a paper. I turned the paper in at an office across campus and began walking back to my dorm room, eager to rest. Soon, it would be nightfall. The cold wind blew across my face. Leaves fell along my path. Gothic architecture merged into the shadows. Tombstones in the nearby cemetery reflected the last vestiges of sunlight.

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Discovering Christian Mysticism Through Evelyn Underhill

It was my junior year at Vassar College, and Christianity was not a part of my life. If anything, it was somewhat old, tattered, and worn – like an ugly shirt associated with bad self-esteem.  Something to ignore and not use – at least for now.  At the same time, feelings had begun to ferment under the surface, a new sensation of aliveness that had been absent for awhile.  Some vague emotional flow had been restored and sought regeneration.

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