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In Sweet Company

“God makes a way out of no way.” — Sister Helen Prejean, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

When I was a little girl, I used to lay awake at night and have long conversations with an invisible, decidedly feminine presence I called “The Magic.” Sometimes I would sing to Her. Sometimes we would play. Sometimes She would give me advice. Mostly we would laugh.

I told no one about The Magic or my conversations with Her. I never felt I had to. She was so real to me I assumed She was a part of everyone’s night, part of the standard operating procedure for life on planet earth.

Over the years, as my nights became occupied with how I could make David A. or Michael S. fall madly in love with me, my relationship with The Magic dimmed. It was not that She left me, but that the visible world put down roots. The more I depended on things outside myself to make me happy, the unhappier I became.

Life was hard in my twenties: I married and divorced. I moved across country, from the womb of family and friends to the very big city of L.A. I learned my perfect daughter had health issues that necessitated two operations. I had four operations of my own. My mother died. There were joys I could name — my children, friends who appeared when I needed them most, the arts, and an occasional meaningful Voila! that brought a snippet of order to my world. What disappointed me most — the thread that bound all my perceptions of all my experiences — was that growing up was not what I hoped it would be. Rather than feel unlimited and ardent, I felt restrained and dispirited. Though it had been years since our last soiree, The Magic had etched an indelible image of Something More on my consciousness, something I assumed would be waiting for me once I was old enough to vote. This was anything but the case.

In my late twenties, I began to troll the bookstores of L.A. Though I had no idea what I was looking for, I knew I would know it when I found it. Whatever it was would call my name. It would make good sense, it would order my world, lift me above my pain and disenchantment. It would in fact, enchant me. When what I was looking for turned out to be a personal relationship with God I was floored. I was not raised in a religious home. No one I knew even talked about God. As my spiritual path unfolded like a flower, I began to remember my time with The Magic. Despite my wandering, my trials and my errors, despite my notions about what would make me happy and my concomitant despair at the lack thereof, despite my turning away, She had never left my side. The Unseen Heart had been with me always.

More years have passed since that knowing came to me than I care to name. The time and space of my life have never ceased to be filled with experiences that stretch me to my limits even though my relationship with God is now central to my existence. Though I have often dangled by a thread, the thread is different than what it used to be: I so love and enjoy The Magic that I cannot conscience a world without Her. I look for Her everywhere, in snippets of order, in fragments of conversation, in tastes of kindness — within and without. I construct a Reality from the small things — from bits and pieces, from things only I know about — that carries me, that comforts me, that emboldens me, that affirms the Reality of the Unseen Heart.

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