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One Brave Stretch of Faith

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It was 1975. I was 23 years old and just out of UCLA. I had spent the previous five years as an activist in the anti-war movement and the women's movement. I truly believed in the brotherhood of man. And my political struggles had just been vindicated. The war I had fought so strongly against was almost over. The President I despised was also almost out of office. I was an activist without a cause.

I found myself working to pay off years of college debt in the front office of Erewhon, a natural-foods distribution and retail business. A lot of young people worked there. Some were into EST and some were into the 15-year-old "perfect Master," a chubby Indian boy with some serious lineage. I was into neither. I got the job because the manager thought my astrological sign, Aries, would be good for the place. I thought the people around me were well-meaning but deluded beyond belief.

One of the millers from the grain department and I began a romantic relationship. Of course, he was really a rock musician with a day job. Steve was a spiritual kind of guy, and my first non- political boyfriend. A great love developed. He spoke to me of spiritual matters, and I was responding like crazy. I had never even heard these things talked about before. My higher mind was opening for the first time.

Six months into our relationship, we went on an overnight camping trip in his VW van (what else?). He said he had something special to give me, that he had been waiting for the right moment, that it would change my life. I couldn't imagine what it was. We had done a lot of mind-expanding drugs together. Was there something new on the market? I was filled with anticipation.

We parked the van in a cow pasture by Lake Piru outside of Los Angeles. Night fell, and we talked by flashlight. Finally, he reached behind the driver's seat and pulled out a large blue book. The hairs on my arms stood straight up. The base of my neck tingled. Somehow, I knew this was the thing I reached for the book. "Wait," he said. He turned to page 1118 and began to read aloud the preamble to Paper 102:

"To the unbelieving materialist, man is simply an evolutionary accident. His hopes of survival are strung on a figment of mortal imagination; his fears, loves, longings, and belief are but the reaction of the incidental juxtaposition of certain lifeless atoms of matter. No display of energy nor expression of trust can carry him beyond the grave."

As Steve read on through those first three paragraphs, a membrane burst in my mind. I saw for the first time.

" .. Each day of life slowly and surely tightens the grasp of a pitiless doom which a hostile and relentless universe of matter has decreed shall be the crowning insult to everything in human desire which is beautiful, noble, lofty and good."

"No!" my mind screamed in despair. "This cannot be true!"

"But such is not mans end and eternal destiny; such a vision is but the cry of despair uttered by some wandering soul who has become lost in spiritual darkness, and who bravely struggles on in the face of the mechanistic sophistries of a materialistic philosophy, blinded by the confusion and distortion of a complex learning."

"That s me?"

". . . And all this doom of darkness, and all this destiny of despair are forever dispelled by one brave stretch of faith on the part of the most humble and unlearned of God's children on earth."

That was it! One brave stretch of faith was all it took. I stretched in that moment, and have never looked back.

I spent the next eight hours wearing out the flashlight battery as I pored over this amazing book. I understood it totally. There was nothing I read that night that sounded new to me. It was as if I already knew everything in it, but was relearning it by reading it.

And thus it has been ever since.

Four years later, my relationship with the rock- and-roll miller ended. My life has taken many turns throughout the years since that fateful night, but the one constant, the one undeniable and unwavering truth about me that has remained is that I believe in the fifth epochal revelation. As the preamble to Paper 102 concludes:

"This saving faith has its birth in the human heart when the moral consciousness of man realizes that human values may be translated in mortal experience from the material to the spiritual, from the human to the divine, from time to eternity."

I had been born in faith that night - July 4, 1975. And today, as in every day since, I thank the Father for this great gift.