I began my spiritual journey at an early age, attending Sunday school in a Pentecostal church. I wasn't forced to go, in fact my parents weren't religious at all, but I felt drawn to Jesus and his teachings. I had a born again experience when I was twelve and even persuaded my parents to come to church where they too were "born again."
Throughout my high school years I developed a deep desire for God and a love for humanity, but one thing kept bothering me. I didn't feel comfortable with the us/them attitude the church manifested. I had trouble understanding how God could let people go to hell; after all, if I loved them and wouldn't let them suffer why should He do any less? I was given the standard answer—free will. God didn't send people to hell, people chose to go to hell by not following God.
The question still gnawed at me and by the time I entered college I couldn't let it rest anymore. I thought it out logically. I couldn't conceive of a way people could have free will and still make the right choice all the time, but I wasn't God. God was all powerful, all knowing and all wise; surely He could have created a system where we still had free will and did not go to hell. Since He didn't, my logic led me to one of two conclusions. Either God, being all knowing, all powerful, all wise, purposefully created a world where people would choose hell, and was therefore sadistic, or God was not all knowing, all powerful, all wise, and therefore probably didn't exist. The thought of a sadistic God was too much to bear so I chose the latter and became an atheist.
I wasn't a militant atheist—I still believed in love, but its source had changed. Over the years, science became my god. I studied evolution and natural selection as a hobby, and believed there wasn't anything science couldn't explain given enough time. And so I believed for most of my adult life, but even as an atheist, the Holy Spirit was guiding me. I don't see that part of my life as a detour from the path but rather a period of preparation that I needed for what was to come. I had to let go of the old, rigid belief system to make way for the radical ideas that were to come.
They started coming one day in 1986 while I was walking along the beach trying to straighten my thoughts out. I was in a relationship that was forcing me to reevaluate my belief system. Staring out over the water, my plea for help seemed to almost burst out on its own. To no one in particular and to anyone, I said "There must be more to it than this." Unknown to me, this was my invitation to the Holy Spirit, and He responded quickly.
It started small. That same day I bought an old Moody Blues tape, a music group from the 1960's that sought meaning to life through mysticism. Listening to their songs awoke my desire for the Truth. At the book store I found Shakti Gawain's "Creative Visualization" which seemed in the same vein as the Moody Blues music. Most of it was too far out for me to accept but some of it wasn't too threatening to my scientific mind, and so began a pattern. I read one book after another from the metaphysical section of the local book store, each time becoming a little more open to what I read until I was meditating daily and following the guidance of "My Higher Self."
At first I rationalized my new beliefs scientifically until science just sort of fell by the wayside. I didn't know anyone else on a "spiritual path," and kept mine a secret. I felt like I was the only one in the world this was happening to and if I told anybody they would think I was crazy. I couldn't even be a follower of one book or author since my strange new beliefs were a mixture of what I had read and what I had received in meditation. I developed a hunger for spirituality that engulfed my whole life. It was a very innocent time; I didn't yet know what a spiritual person was supposed to be like, and so I was not aware of my "mistakes." I believed in the Power of the Universe, and if some people wanted to call this God, that was OK, but I didn't feel comfortable with it myself. I was getting really strange things from my Higher Self during meditation on forgiveness. It was at this time that I started to heal my relationship with my ex-wife, using these concepts. Today we are closer than we ever were when we were married.
My Higher Self was coming through more and more. I recall a conversation with a friend about a grievance she had, and I blurted out that we needed to forgive everyone. I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth! "Oh, come on," she replied, "everyone? Even Hitler?" I paused as the answer came to me, "Yeah, somehow we even have to forgive Hitler."
This went on for seven or eight months, and then I hit a plateau. I didn't know which way to pursue my path. Available material from the metaphysical section of the book store, small to begin with, was getting smaller and smaller the more I read. I had no idea there were whole book stores on spirituality. What I couldn't understand was why I wasn't getting any guidance from my Higher Self. My attempt at a "New Age" church ended with me fleeing halfway through the service. Sure, the things they were saying were different from my childhood experiences, but if it looked like a church, felt like a church and acted like a church, I figured it was church and I wanted no part of that.
I read in a book about the psychic vortexes around Sedona, Arizona. People would meditate in these areas and get huge psychic breakthroughs or messages. I decided to go for it and set off from California with my newly acquired crystal on the dash of my van to guide me. On the way, the Holy Spirit gave me a little foreshadowing of what was to come. I helped a family that had broken down on the highway. They were on their way to a conference in Unity, Missouri.
After helping them, the driver asked me, "Do you believe in God?"
I reasoned that what I did believe in, he would call "God," so I thought sure, why not.
"Yes, I believe in God," I said for the first time in nearly 20 years.
"God bless you," he replied and gave me a little card with the traveler's prayer for guidance on it. I accepted it gratefully and placed it on the dash next to the crystal, feeling uplifted in a way I couldn't explain.
When I reached the site of the vortex, I meditated and got nothing. It was a beautiful place, but no message, no breakthrough, nothing. In Sedona I found a metaphysics bookstore and was browsing when I came across a book called A Course in Miracles. I had heard it mentioned in one of the books I had read, and out of curiosity I pulled it out of its place on the shelf.
Before I could even open it, I experienced what I can only call a revelation from God. Even now there are no words to describe what I felt. A Power flowed through me, Power so strong, it opposed nothing. There was more love and acceptance than I had ever known before or since. You don't really realize how much guilt you have buried within until you see yourself without it. It was a sensation both physical and non-physical. I knew the presence of God. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever known.
I don't know how long I stood there, tears of joy streaming down my face. Eventually I put the book back in its place and as soon as I released it, the flow stopped! I grabbed the book back again and it returned! The Holy Spirit had been guiding me, not to where I thought I needed to go, but to where He knew I needed to be. I had found my path.
Once I had affirmed I would follow the Course, the revelation faded, leaving me in a peaceful afterglow for several hours. I started reading it that night. If it had not been for my experience that day I never would have made it past the first pages of the text. Here were not only words like God and Jesus, but salvation, Atonement, Holy Spirit and sin! My aversion for Christian terms quickly faded as I absorbed the contents of A Course in Miracles. Here was the teaching that incorporated what I had been receiving by guidance, the knot that tied it all together. Its teachings have become my main focus in life, allowing me to heal my relationships with my brothers, with Jesus, and with God.