Part I: Harry

Chapter 1
I’d like to start off with a question, if you don’t mind:

Do you believe in God?

I love that question. And I hate it at the same time. It assumes that there is only one definition of God, and of course there is not.

There are as many views of God as there are stars in the sky, and no two are exactly alike. So the question is absurd. And yet we often assume that we are perceiving the same God in the same way.

That’s what religion is supposed to do: tell us what to believe. That way, we can all believe the same thing, worship God in the same way. And on the surface, that seems reasonable. But if you dig deeper, you will find that this is not the case. Far from it, in fact.

Religion as it is practiced today is based as much upon fear as it is upon faith. Many people fear that if they don’t respect and worship God, they or their souls will be in some sort of danger. And where did such an idea come from? Religion. Ah yes, religion.

Now, I am not opposed to religion, so please don’t stop reading for fear that this book is the work of the devil. But I would like to present you with a very different view of what religion actually is, what it has been throughout our history, and what it can be.

Religion is similar, in many ways, to a map. In fact, it is a map. A map to a wider awareness. A map to God.

But for most people, that map has become a substitute for the journey itself. Millions, and perhaps billions of people are holding a map in their hands and thinking that they have found God. Only they haven’t really found anything. Besides a map.

Instead of going on that journey, they are holding tightly to the map in their hands and feeling good about themselves because they think they are doing it right. Worshipping the right way. On their way to heaven. All because they have the right map.

Well, guess what? It’s time to stop this silly obsession with maps. Sure, they are useful. Especially if you’re just starting out. But at some point, you have to put the map away and take a step. A step toward what, you won’t know. But a step. Because the map is not the destination. It’s not even the journey. It’s a map. A collection of ideas, perhaps a starting point. But it’s not the journey.

So let’s put away that map for now, tuck it in our back pocket, and head out. We don’t know where we’re going, and we don’t know how long it will take to get there. Perhaps a few hours. Perhaps eternity. More likely, somewhere in between.

Along the way, we can take out our map from time to time, compare our progress to what the map said it would be like. But chances are the journey will look and feel very different from what we expected. We might even find that the journey itself clarifies that map for us, allows us to see the deeper meaning that was there all the time. We simply had to make the journey ourselves in order for that meaning to become clear.

It is said that the farthest distance in the universe is the fourteen inches from your head to your heart.

This story is about that journey.

Chapter 2

I was raised as a Christian. However, I don’t cling to my religion the way many Christians do. I don’t feel superior to those who are not Christian, nor do I feel that Christianity is the only true religion.

Many Christians believe that their religion is the only way to heaven, the only way to salvation. And because of this belief, they tend to view other religions and spiritual paths with skepticism and distrust, as something other than the word of God.

This applies to Jews and Muslims as well. Virtually anyone who follows a religion believes, whether they admit it or not, that their religion is the right one. All the others are distorted or misguided in some way.

I said I was raised as a Christian, but I did so rather reluctantly. In fact, I stopped going to church when I was sixteen, for reasons I will get to shortly. The point I would like to make here is that I am not a typical Christian, and I do not want the fact of my Christian upbringing to alienate those readers who grew up following a different religion, or none at all.

The purpose of this story is to present a wider view of spirituality, one that encompasses all religious beliefs. In order to do so, it is important to emphasize our similarities rather than our differences.

Despite outer appearances, we are all very similar to one another. And because of that, my story applies just as much to you as it does to me. Sure, the surface details might be different, but what goes on underneath is remarkably similar.

My life has been one of repeating patterns. So has yours. And the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can begin to pay attention to such patterns and to choose, for perhaps the first time, to change them. Unless, of course, you are perfectly happy with every single aspect of your life. But I suspect that this is not the case.

As we grow up, we encounter influences and experiences that remain with us throughout our lives. Patterns are set into motion which play out over and over again. If you look carefully at your life, you will see these patterns. And without too much difficulty, you can identify the circumstances in your childhood that set these patterns into motion.

The easiest way for me to show you how this works is to share with you one of my own patterns and how it was initiated. I’ll just give you a few relevant details. I promise to be brief.

First relevant detail: I was adopted. I found this out at the awkward and difficult age of twelve. Perhaps God planned it that way, I don’t know. But the effect it had on me was profound. For the first time in my life (though definitely not the last), I was faced with the realization that I was not who I thought I was. Everything I had previously believed myself to be was incorrect. And the person whom I loved and trusted more than any other – my mother – had the unfortunate task of confirming that fact for me.

According to Mom, I was found in the narthex of a church in Chicago. At the time, Mom was working with child protective services in the city, and her duties sometimes brought her into the hospital emergency room. So she happened to be there the night I was brought in, and she claims to have fed me my first bottle. I had found my way to the woman who would be my mother.

A wonderful and touching story, to be sure, but not to a twelve year old boy finding out for the first time that his mother is not actually his mother. And to make matters worse, my younger sister was not adopted. Another bitter pill to swallow.

After the initial shock wore off, I settled into my new perspective as someone who had been abandoned as an infant and was now a stranger in his own family. My mother seemed different now, my Dad and sister seemed different. Everything seemed different. I felt out of place. Like a black sheep.

I began pulling away here and there, avoiding certain functions and outings and spending a great deal of time alone in my bedroom. Dad noticed, and we eventually had a long discussion about the whole adoption thing. I knew he couldn’t understand what I was experiencing, and God bless him for trying, but empathy was not his strong suit. He eventually grew frustrated and told me that whenever I was ready to return to the real world, he would be ready to be my father. Which I appreciated, at least a little.

We were a well-off, upper-middle class family. My grandfather had accumulated a great deal of wealth, though I don’t know exactly how. The bottom line was that Mom had been given a trust fund that kept us financially comfortable. So my sister and I grew up in a neighborhood of people living comfortably.

This had been quite fine with me growing up, but once I found out I was adopted I felt like I didn’t belong in such surroundings. I assumed that my birth mother had been poor, otherwise she would have kept and raised me. The more I thought about it, the more I began to identify with the less-fortunate. I also began to resent, to a degree, the privilege with which I was surrounded.

The shallowness and elitism that I had often detected but had never understood now became more obvious to me. The tendency of wealthy or moderately wealthy people to view themselves as better than the less fortunate, though they would vigorously deny it, was always there. It was in their tone of voice when they complained about welfare, about urban crime, about taxes. It was always there. And it was becoming very obvious to me.

So a pattern had been initiated, one that would repeat itself in various ways throughout my life. Periodically, I would find myself feeling out of place, like an outsider. And I can see that although the circumstances were different each time, the underlying feeling was similar. It was the same feeling I had as a twelve year old boy who didn’t belong in his own family.

I encourage you to look back at your life and to identify where such patterns might be playing out for you. The idea here is not to feel like a victim, not to blame an abusive parent or tragic circumstance that has forever doomed you to repeated failure or unhappiness. The point is to become aware of these patterns. It is only through awareness of them that we can change them. And changing them is what we’re after.

I began this discussion by talking about religion, and it turns out that our religious upbringing (or lack of it) is a very powerful pattern, one that affects virtually every area of our lives. We tend to package our spiritual beliefs into tidy little boxes – this one for Sunday mornings, that one for when a loved one dies. However, our spiritual beliefs actually provide the foundation for everything else that goes on in our lives.

I realize that such a statement may seem a bit of a stretch for some people. Most of us give very little thought to religious matters. And atheists will surely recoil at the assertion that our spiritual beliefs lie at the core of everything we do and believe and experience.

But I intend to show you, through this story, how our spiritual patterns and beliefs actually influence everything else in our lives. And by the time we’re done, I hope to leave you inspired and motivated to examine your own beliefs and patterns and to begin the process of unraveling the mystery that is your life.

Okay, enough background information.

Time to get to our story.

Chapter 3

We begin in Ohio, where I was a middle school science teacher. I was 30 years old, living alone, and I was bored. Bored to death. Or almost to death.

What had begun as an exciting career teaching biology to thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds had deteriorated, over the course of nine years, into a depressing mess. I know some of you have wonderful careers that continue to inspire and excite you, year after year. And I’m quite happy for you. But you are definitely in the minority. I was not so fortunate, and I know many of you are in the same boat I was.

By the time I reached the age of 30, I was done with teaching. Or at least teaching science. I had lost my passion for it. I was still curious about it, but not passionate. Not enough to get up at 5:30AM every day and make my way to a classroom full of tired teenagers who didn’t give a crap about science. It was fine in the beginning, but nine years later it came to be a chore. A miserable chore.

As my enthusiasm for my career faded, I found myself more and more drawn to history and philosophy and religion. Perhaps I was looking for answers, or a new interest to pursue. I really can’t say for sure. And I found the whole thing odd at first, because I had all but abandoned religion as a teenager, and I had never taken any interest in history before. Yet there I was, avidly reading books about every religion under the sun.

I said in the previous chapter that I stopped going to church when I was sixteen. But up until then I had been a rule-following, card-carrying Christian. I attended Sunday school every week and was involved in church outings, youth activities, the whole gamut. For my family, and for many other families, church was a big part of our social life. Not our entire social life – there were still neighbors, friends, and family. But an active church life brought about constant interaction with others of similar faith, of similar perspective.

God and Jesus Christ were there every Sunday, a fixture in my reality. And all of that was well and good until my teenage years arrived. But once I began to question things, many aspects of that stable church life fared poorly. They didn’t hold up very well against an angst-filled, disillusioned young person looking for something real to hold onto. All that church stuff went out the window when teenage reality began to kick in.

In amongst the arguments with parents, the confusion of girls, the lure of doing something different and exciting with the guys, Jesus was nowhere to be found. Quite frankly, he seemed kind of boring by contrast.

How is some nice guy preaching barefoot to a bunch of ignorant people two thousand years ago supposed to be relevant to a 16-year-old whose only priority is sneaking out of the house late Saturday night to share a few cans of beer that his buddy managed to steal from his dad’s fridge without getting caught?

Jesus had no relevance to me and my friends at that time. He was never mentioned, and if one of us had brought him up it would have been awkward and out of place. True, I still attended youth group meetings on Sunday evenings from time to time, but my friends in youth group were almost as mischievous as my non-church friends. All in all, religion served no role in my life at that time, and I eventually stopped attending church altogether.

One of the things that bothered me about church was the fact that no one questioned anything. Everything was to be accepted and believed, never questioned. I would often wonder how people could possibly believe that the dialogue quoted in the scriptures happened exactly as it was written. Every word. The pastor would quote scripture and then proceed to analyze the quote word for word, as though there had been someone there writing down every single word, and those words had somehow made it through two thousand years and multiple translations without being altered in any way.

Really? I doubted it. And to look around and see all the people in the congregation listening intently and believing everything they were told, something felt wrong about it all. How would those people know if they were told something that was incorrect? They wouldn’t. They were in believing mode. Everything the pastor said must be true. Everything written in the Bible must be true. The whole thing bothered me.

Nobody questioned anything. Growing up, I was told what was true, what to believe. No one ever said, “Think about it, Harry, and decide for yourself.” Never. Not once. It was always, “This is the truth, believe it. This is the word of God, believe it.” No one ever questioned anything. And that bothered me to no end.

Let’s take the Santa Claus issue as an example. We’re told growing up that Santa comes down the chimney while we sleep on Christmas Eve and delivers presents to all the good girls and boys. And if we question the logistics of that (such as the fact that people living in apartments have no chimneys), we are given some excuse and dismissed as if it were no big deal. No big deal? My parents are telling me something that I know is wrong, is untrue, and yet there they are, the most trustworthy people in my life (supposedly) telling me otherwise.

Perhaps I was scarred from the whole Santa thing, who knows. But by the time I began to question what the church was telling me, I had grown accustomed to doubt. I kept my doubts to myself, however, because no one else around me was questioning anything, at least to my knowledge. So I gradually detached myself from the church experience, paid less attention during services, and finally, at the age of sixteen, stopped attending church altogether.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who question things, and those who don’t. I was the former, surrounded by the latter. And that is no easy position to be in, I assure you. Not only do you miss out on the comfort of believing what everyone else does, but you have no one else to share your perspective with. You are either ignored or thought of as weird. And you tend to feel alone. At least I did.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because it was another one of my patterns. The biggest, in fact. The one that would eventually culminate in my confrontation with God. Religion tends to instruct you to worship God, to follow His laws, to stay on His good side. Well, that approach never worked for me. First of all, I didn’t see such laws as God’s laws, I saw them as man’s laws, attributed to God. I didn’t see some big hand extending down from the sky and writing His laws with a 40-foot fountain pen. No way. These were man’s laws. I saw that clearly. But no one else did.

As far as worship goes, who was I suppose to be worshipping? God, I was told. Well, who’s that? Where is God? God is everywhere. Really? Where? Show me. But no one ever could.

No one knew. As far as the Christians in my life were concerned, worshipping God was a matter of praying, attending church, reciting creeds, participating in communion. Those kinds of things. They were things you did. I wanted to understand God, but all I was told was what to do. As if having a relationship with God was all about doing things. And that never felt right. Whoever and wherever God was, I was pretty sure He would be more interested in what was on the inside than what was on the outside. Once again, I was questioning things. And once again, no one else was.

One thing that really bothered me was this idea that God was to be feared. That God sometimes grew angry. That God would punish you for your sins. Why would God give me the ability and even the tendency to sin, and then punish me for doing so? What kind of God would do that?

Why would God give me free will and then punish me when I used it the wrong way? How much sense would that make? Not a lot, to me. But no one else saw any problem with that. It was the way things worked. It said so in the Bible.

So that was my teenage experience with God: I wanted to understand, and that required me to question. But no one else was questioning anything, presumably because they weren’t actually trying to understand. They just wanted to make sure they were doing it right. Believing the right things, reciting the right creeds, praying the right way. Got to get into heaven, you know? Got to be on God’s good side.

But what about the other religions? They’re not saying the same creeds. They’re not affirming the same things. They’re not accepting Jesus as their savior. What about them? What about the primitive cultures around the world who have their own spiritual beliefs? Are they out of luck? Oh, that one bothered me. I came back to it over and over again: If one had to accept Jesus as one’s savior in order to get into heaven, did that mean that those who never heard of him were kept out?

No one had an answer for me. No one even seemed to care. It was like everyone was asleep, and only I was awake. I wanted to wake everyone up, but nobody would budge. Glassy eyes. But steadfast in faith.

If being on God’s good side meant accepting what you were told, never questioning anything, then something was amiss. Either God was more like a human than anyone cared to admit - petty and controlling, just like us - or the image we had of God was all wrong.

I went with the latter. And I’m glad I did.

Chapter 4

Okay, back to being 30. So I was still teaching, though losing my enthusiasm for it. I was still interested in science, but I was more and more curious about the why of things. Science is great at explaining how things work – how organisms function, how the physical world operates.

But I was becoming more fascinated with why: why is nature so delicately balanced? Why is every species and life form on Earth provided for? Why does any of it exist in the first place? I kept coming back to the assumption on the part of many scientists that all life forms on this planet evolved from gas and dust.

It became a favorite saying of mine: gas and dust. Each time I stepped back and considered the idea at face value, it grew increasingly absurd to me. Somehow a bunch of gas and dust swirling around in a meaningless universe came together and evolved into a human being that was now pondering how a bunch of gas and dust came together and evolved into me. With no guiding hand or fundamental ordering force to facilitate that. And during moments of clarity, I saw the absurdity of that.

So there I was, contemplating the why of things while trying to maintain my enthusiasm for a teaching career that no longer interested me. And it began to wear on me. Each day I got out of bed dreading the day ahead. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel like pretending to be excited about what I was discussing in class that day. It was horrible.

Eventually my frustration turned into depression, and I began to call out sick. I hadn’t missed more than a handful of days due to illness in the nine years I had been teaching, but I was now missing at least one day a month, some months three or four. I saw what was going on, but because I had no idea what else to do with myself or my life I kept right on going. I kept trying to muster the enthusiasm for another day, trying not to give up and call out sick once again.

There were rumblings at school regarding my attendance problem, though no one actually said anything to me about it. But I received looks from time to time – looks that implied my frequent absences were being noticed.

But as I said, I was clueless as to what to do about it. Teaching science to teenagers was all I had ever done. I felt stuck, trapped, and depressed.

The only thing that saved me, that kept me going at that time, was my growing passion for spirituality. As my outside life grew less interesting and fulfilling, my inner landscape was moving in the opposite direction. I once again wanted to understand things. It was a return to that same experience I had in church a decade and a half before – desperately wanting to understand, unwilling to accept the things that others were willing to accept.

On a whim, I approached the school about the possibility of teaching a religious studies course. And the response was a resounding NO. I lived and taught in a very liberal area, one where many parents and school board members refused to allow anything even close to religion to creep into their schools.

I was surprised by the strength of their rejection, though I hadn’t actually expected the idea to fly. It was an impulse, and I followed it. But I was rejected, and so I went back to teaching science and wondering if I would ever be able to incorporate my passion for religion and spirituality into my life pursuits.

I gradually began to grow cynical toward science and the scientific community. And here’s why: the schools allow and even encourage the teaching of scientific theories. Science is a constantly expanding realm, crossing into many different fields of study. And there is constant theorizing and testing of theories, all of which is openly discussed in the classroom.

But spirituality is completely shut out of school, at least in the district in which I taught. No mention was allowed, other than casual references in history and the social sciences. Besides that, spirituality had no place there. And the obvious implication, in terms of the young minds attending school, was that spirituality had no role in day-to-day living.

It wasn’t mentioned in school, it wasn’t addressed on the kids’ television shows. It had no role in their lives whatsoever. Unless, of course, they attended church on Sunday, or church functions during the week. But I never once, in all those years of teaching, heard anyone make a reference to spirituality.

The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I grew. I found myself sympathizing with the conservatives out there who railed against the removal of God from our schools. Which was quite ironic, considering I had stopped going to church fourteen years before. And yet there I was, advocating religious discussion in a school setting.

Are you familiar with the ongoing debate regarding intelligent design? Some people argue that our theory of evolution is incomplete, that it does not account for God. They claim that there is an intelligent force at work in the universe, a force which many people refer to as God. But evolution, as it is taught in our schools, makes no mention of such a force.

That is what the intelligent design debate is all about: some people want that intelligent force accounted for in the classroom. They do not want their children being taught that they live in a meaningless universe, one in which they evolved from gas and dust. Or from monkeys, for that matter.

After a great deal of pondering, I arrived at the root of the problem: those who advocated the presence of God in school insisted that their view of God be the one presented. They were not promoting a critical discussion or exploration of religion; they wanted their beliefs given priority. And that ruined the whole thing.

Intelligent design supporters often had an ulterior motive, and the evolutionists could sense that ulterior motive.

Fortunately, I was not involved in such debate. I had come to see quite clearly that both sides were right on some points and wrong on others. But, as humans often do, both sides were insisting that their view was the correct one.

I began to see why I was drawn to the science/religion debate. I was learning something from it. As the debate raged on, I was beginning to see the futility of argument.

If people are unwilling to open up and consider other perspectives, other possibilities, then they are, for the time being, stuck. There can be no movement, no growth for those who insist that their position is the right one.

I was learning the role that an open mind plays in the expansion of knowledge and understanding. I was learning the importance of honestly considering other points of view. By watching both sides of the intelligent design debate present their assumptions and facts and arguments, I learned one of our fundamental problems as human beings: our insistence that we are right. Our insistence that someone who disagrees with us is wrong. Such thinking not only prevents progress but breeds resentment, hostility, and in certain parts of the world, violence.

I remember thinking at the time, Perhaps I can do something to help us move beyond this dilemma. Perhaps I can offer a different perspective, one that can bring clarity and resolution to this debate.

And that was really the beginning of it all for me. That thought was the seed that would grow into my life’s purpose, my contribution to the human race.

Clarity and resolution. That’s what was needed. That’s what I needed.

Of course, before clarity can arise there must be a period of sorting out, of examination. Honest examination. Being honest with yourself, about what you really feel and what you really believe, does not come easily in our culture. There is a process that one must go through, and the ego stands firmly in the way of that process.

The intelligent design debate is symbolic of a fundamental and unresolved dilemma within each of us: Are you a physical being, or are you something more than a physical being? Does your consciousness arise from your physical form, or does it exist independently of it?

This is essentially what the intelligent design issue boils down to. The evolutionists see evidence that we evolved through natural selection, physical adaptation, and genetic mutation. These do not require an unseen hand or supernatural force.

On the other side, the advocates of intelligent design see evidence of that unseen hand. And although they lack the scientific proof of it, they can sense it, feel it, experience it.

So there is our dilemma: we have to decide, one person at a time, who and what we actually are. Science insists that it has the answer, and so does religion. And all the arguing that goes on between the two sides represents the arguing that goes on within each of us. Who am I? What am I?

Ah, good stuff. And there you have it. It was during that year, my 30th year, that my life’s intent and purpose came into view. I would come to realize, in the years following, that I had been collecting information, perspectives, and experiences throughout my entire life, all in preparation for what would be my life’s primary endeavor.

Big words, I know. But this is a big story. One that applies not just to me but to every one of you.

Who are you?

Why are you here?

Do you know?

Are you sure?

Part II: The Lawsuit

Chapter 5

I don’t know a whole lot about our legal system, though I certainly recognize the value that law plays in our society. But I am not personally interested in it.

That being said, I will do my best to describe this part of my story as accurately and completely as I can. As I said, I’m not very knowledgeable on the subject.

Before I can get to the lawsuit, I need to fill you in on the circumstances that led up to it. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that it’s always darkest just before dawn. Well, I found out during my 30th year on this planet that those words are as true as any.

Why is it darkest just before dawn? Here’s one theory: when something new and unprecedented moves into our lives, there must be a clearing out period beforehand, a removal of debris. The field must be plowed, the chalkboard wiped with a wet sponge (something I’ve done thousands of times). All in preparation for something new.

My life during the months leading up to my infamous lawsuit could best be described as a clearing out, or perhaps a breaking down. I simply broke down. I gave up.

Many of you may know what I’m talking about. Some call it surrender, or reaching the end of one’s rope. The inability to care any more.

That’s what I experienced, and I’ll briefly describe it to you – just enough for you to see that suing God was a perfectly understandable reaction to what I was going through at the time.

As I said, I had lost my passion for teaching and was finding it difficult to even get out of bed most days. Driving to school was dreary. Walking into the classroom, trying to smile at my students, was a chore. It required every ounce of effort on my part, every day. And this eventually wore me down.

I also stopped socializing during that time. The more I agonized over my unsatisfying life, the less I wanted to connect with others. Perhaps I felt I had nothing to share with them, or nothing to gain by being around them. Perhaps both.

So there I was, dreading my job, shutting myself off from the rest of the human race, retreating into my own little world. There was nothing in my future that caused me any excitement. I was about as depressed as one could get.

And then something strange began to happen.

You’re all familiar with coincidences. They happen to all of us.

Well, it was around this time that I started to experience a lot of them. Not just one here or there, but many of them.

At first, I was amused by them. Occasionally I would mention one to a friend. I might say something like, “Hey, I was just thinking about California this morning, and here you are telling me about a trip you’re planning to San Diego – isn’t that interesting!” And they would nod politely, and then go on with the conversation.

But gradually, they began to occur more frequently. Now, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. And on the surface, I agree. Coincidences happen all the time, and although we don’t understand why they happen, we all know that they do. My problem at that time was that they began to happen all the time. Many times a day, someone would mention something I was just thinking about. A line in a commercial would state almost word for word something I had just thought moments before. Weird stuff. It amused me at first, but when it started occurring throughout the day, every day, I began to worry.

And what did I worry about? The one thing I had never questioned in all of my life: my sanity. It wasn’t an active questioning – I knew I was perfectly rational, I had all of my wits about me. I wasn’t hallucinating or hearing voices or anything like that. But the coincidences and synchronicities were beginning to rattle me.

They always caught me off guard. Sometimes I would smile at them, other times I would marvel. But they kept on coming, and I knew something was up. I couldn’t ignore them, pretend that they weren’t there. They were there. But I had no one to talk to about them.

So where did all of this lead? Well, the scientist in me decided that I needed to be logical and methodical. I decided to document the events as they occurred. One day I grabbed a notepad from the shelf above my desk in the living room and set about recording everything. I noted the date and time for each event, and I carried the notepad around with me. I dubbed it my “coincidence journal”, and I kept it in the briefcase that I carried back and forth to school.

Oddly enough, four days later the coincidences stopped. Completely. I had only recorded a few pages of events, and in retrospect they seemed like nothing. One was about broken traffic lights – I saw one on the way to school one morning, then one drawn by an art student that was hanging on the wall outside the art room, and one on television that night. So I wrote that one down. I did this for four days, and then the coincidences stopped.

A week went by, and still there were none. I pondered this. What did it mean? Why did they stop so soon after I had begun keeping track of them? Was there a reason? Had I caused them to stop happening? And why had they happened in the first place?

Eventually I forgot about the whole thing. I went back to life as usual, which at that time was pretty darn unpleasant. The bouts of depression were daily occurrences. I may have had one good day during that stretch, at least during the fall. I perked up around Christmas, as I always do. But soon afterward I was back to dreading most days and my uninteresting future.

Am I boring you yet? I apologize if so, but these are important details. Over the next year, my life would go from dreary and depressing to exciting and intriguing. And unless you have forgotten the name of this book, you can probably guess where that excitement would come from.

I was about to sue God.

And here’s why.

Chapter 6

I had a realization one day: I am here on this Earth for a reason, and that reason has something to do with who we are and why we're here. It finally dawned on me that my passion for science, followed by my insatiable appetite for all things spiritual, was in preparation for something. Something big.

As I continued to retreat from the outside world that year, I finally understood that I was more than Harry M. Phillips. I was more than this. I knew it. I couldn’t prove it. I didn’t even feel the need to. I just knew, more and more each day, that Harry was not the whole picture. He was only the tip of an iceberg of some sort.

I stopped pondering whether or not there was life after death, or whether or not the Bible was true, or whether or not I had a soul that was separate from my body. All such lines of questioning stopped entirely.

This was certainly something new for me, and it took me a while to realize it. But once I finally did, it saved me, in a way. My attention gradually shifted away from the mundane details of my outside life and toward what one might call “deeper” things: What else am I? If this physical being, this ego-based personality, is not the real me, then what is the real me? Who am I?

I had considered such questions before, but now it was different. The questions felt different, as did my answers. Though I have to say, there were very few answers at this time. I wasn’t finding different answers to the same old questions. I wasn’t finding any answers at all. What changed were the questions I was asking. I seemed to have moved beyond the old questions and on to new ones.

Previously, I had wondered about Christ’s message, about the ideas of heaven, of sin, of salvation. I had wondered whether or not it was true, factual. I wondered how much of Christ’s story actually happened the way the Bible said it did, and how accurate or correct the other religions were in describing God, in describing the purpose of life and what, if anything, happened afterward.

But I began that year to move beyond such questions. I was no longer concerned with facts, with what did or did not happen. I started to see that such questions were distractions. It was tail chasing. It was trying to prove who or what was right or wrong.

The intelligent design debate showed me the futility of argument, of trying to prove that your beliefs are right and someone else’s are wrong. There had to be a wider perspective, one that clarified such debates and somehow accounted for them. Perhaps without even needing to answer them.

So I began reaching not for answers but for new questions, bigger questions. Questions such as: if I existed before this life, and I had somehow played a role in determining my life circumstances or my abilities and talents and preferences, would that make sense? Is there any evidence within my experience that might indicate that?

Can the extreme variety of personalities and abilities and preferences we see in human beings be explained by evolution? Is there an evolutionary explanation for the complexity of emotions we experience? Why do we all look so different from one another? Why do siblings often develop so differently from one another?

I pondered these things and more. Every person I ran into triggered more questions in me. I began to suspect that we somehow brought some of our uniqueness with us into this life. I simply could not accept the explanation that it was all conditioning, or that the human race had evolved into such mind-boggling diversity of talent and preference and personality.

I’m rambling, I know, but during that winter I woke up and began to ramble. Observations triggered questions, questions led to other questions, and just like that, in the span of just a few short weeks, my world came alive again. Only now, it was more alive than it had ever been before.

Suddenly, every person I came into contact with was a new mystery, a new fountain of uniqueness, an avalanche of new ideas to ponder. It was almost overwhelming at times. I often found myself frozen in place, in mid-conversation. I jokingly referred to this as my “epiphany” stage. I was having realizations, insights, coming at me from all directions. And each time, it would stop me in my tracks. I frequently had to walk away from whatever I was doing and allow whatever insight was breaking through into my mind to do so. It was wonderful.

So there it was: a new dawn. And it happened just when things looked the darkest, when there appeared to be no light on the horizon. Just when my life had hit that lowest of spots, dawn arrived.

Was it the end of darkness for me? Certainly not. What would happen to the Earth if night never came around again? Eternal light – good for the soul? Apparently not, at least not at this stage. Just as a plant would suffer without it’s nightly break from sunlight, so too the soul requires the contrast of light and dark to know in which direction it wants to move.

Human life on Earth is all about contrasts – the beautiful and the ugly, the light and the dark, rain and sunshine, happiness and sorrow. Contrast. Without it, life might become colorless, a flat road. When the sun breaks through the horizon and a new day dawns, that new day is unlike any that have gone before.

Yes, this day will eventually end. And when it does, the world will become dark. But no matter how long and dark that night is, the sun shall rise again.

I learned that winter that the sun always rises again. It was a lesson I would never forget, one that would get me through future inevitable nights.

But never again would I sink quite so low as I did during the months leading up to that new dawn. And if there was any way I could share that understanding with others, perhaps to alleviate their fear of the darkness and encourage their faith in the coming new day, I was determined to do it. I would somehow share what I had learned with others.

Sharing deep insights is not easy. Most people are too caught up in the details of their lives to think about such things. They have little interest in words of encouragement, at least not until they are in the throes of their own dark night. But by then, it is often too late. Better to get your encouraging words to them now, so they can tuck them away and have them ready when they really need them.

That became my goal as winter turned to spring: to somehow pass on what I had learned in an effort to be helpful. I had made it through a dark and difficult stretch, and I knew that I was not alone in doing do. But I had emerged with tremendous insight, and I was anxious to share it with anyone who would listen.

Finally, my life had a purpose.

A new day had dawned.

Chapter 7

So I had found my calling, or so I thought. I would share my newfound understanding of life – the insights and realizations that were now coming to me - with whomever would listen.

It was my first “awakening”, if you would like to call it that. It was like the curtain had begun to be pulled aside, and I was seeing the wizard behind it for the first time. Now, a funny thing happens when a person begins to see beyond the veil for the first time: they assume, at every step of the way, that they have found it. They have found the Truth. The way it really is.

Actually, I hadn’t found the Truth. Anything but. As it turns out, much of my realizations were quite distorted and far from what I would eventually come to understand. And the few people to whom I mentioned some of my epiphanies were definitely not impressed, or enthusiastic. Quite the opposite, they thought that there was something wrong with me, with my mind.

I was growing excited about my new picture of the world, and I couldn’t help but mention some of my more profound thoughts to people around me – mostly to close friends on the teaching staff, or to a friend at Murphy’s. But none of them appreciated what I was sharing with them, and the most I got was a courteous smile, maybe a gentle rolling of the eyes. Luckily, no one took me very seriously.

One of my favorite new themes during this time was my theory that human civilization had existed far longer than people believed, and that it had all but destroyed itself many times. I saw that there was an ancient battle being fought by the forces of light and darkness. I saw a cycle of rise and fall, and each fall was followed by thousands of years during which humanity reverted back to its simplest form. There were climate changes, natural disasters, all intended to reduce man to its naked self and ready him for the next cycle.

I saw parallels to this in my own experience – the cycle of light and dark that I spoke of previously, and the period of darkness that must always precede a new dawn. I began to see that the human race was on a precipice of sorts, poised for either another period of darkness or for something completely new and unprecedented - the golden age that we’ve been hearing and dreaming about (or cynically dismissing) for countless years.

I was excited. I finally understood what was going on.

I found myself being drawn to some of the New Age materials that spoke of the “ascension” that was supposedly taking place. According to some theories, the human race was about to crumble, and those who were ready for the next level of consciousness would “ascend” somehow, leaving behind those not yet ready to do so.

There were many theories as to what this ascension would look like. Some people believed that there were aliens or spiritual beings existing at a higher vibration that would bring us into their ships and keep us safe while the Earth experienced cataclysmic changes. Then, when the changes were complete and the Earth was once again inhabitable, the ascended beings would return to Earth and usher in the New Age, a period of peace on Earth.

This may sound odd or farfetched to many of you, but I assure you that the people advocating such ideas were extremely intelligent, articulate people. They were not insane. This was their perception, and it was quite real to them. I read such materials with interest because I was looking for some way to explain the changes that were happening within me. I felt myself transforming in intense and unexplainable ways, and the idea of ascension seemed to explain it far better than anything else I had come across.

All the signs were there: the increasing violence and terrorism, the environmental destruction, the obsession with and dependence upon oil, the religious prophecies. Everything pointed to one inescapable conclusion: the human race was at some sort of fork in the road, some kind of culmination. It was make or break time, and it matched perfectly what was happening inside me.

As my perception of the world changed, my perception of my own life and my own career changed as well. I started to see that I was in the teaching profession for a reason, and that somehow I was going to be involved in spreading this information. But I needed to find a way to do so.

As winter gave way to spring, I started to feel the urge to somehow share my growing spiritual knowledge. Each day I saw a classroom full of kids who had no idea what was happening to the human race. Their parents didn’t know, their friends didn’t know, and they didn’t know. Somehow, I was going to have to tell people about all of this. But how?

That was the state I was in when I made a choice that would change me far more than it would change them. In retrospect, it was a key moment in my life, a turning point. I’m still amazed that it happened this way, still shocked that I actually did what I did. And yet it happened, and it needed to, and it paved the way for all that would follow.

Here’s what happened:

It was Easter week, on a Wednesday, and I was having a particularly interesting week. Much to my surprise, the coincidences that had all but deserted me over the winter returned without warning and with far greater intensity and frequency than they had before. It was very disconcerting, only now I was in a very different place. I had begun what I understood to be my awakening process, and now I had to somehow fit these coincidences in with my new understanding of reality.

As I pondered the return of the coincidences, I interpreted them as a signal that something was going to happen. Or that I was supposed to do something.

I know you may be cringing at the thought that I would, in such a seemingly confused state, take it upon myself to do something. I can hear some of you thinking, oh great, what’s he going to do? Shoot somebody? Blow something up? Sue God???

Certainly not the first two. I don’t have a vengeful bone in my body. And as far as suing God, that thought hadn’t yet occurred to me. I had nothing against God, per se. Sure, He could have warned us about the whole ascension thing (and many would argue that He did – the prophesies and revelations all point to something big happening at some point). But I really hadn’t yet associated God with the changes I was experiencing.

As my most interesting week continued, I noticed synchronicities unlike anything I had experienced before. The timing of everything seemed to be perfect. Lights would turn green just as I started to move my foot onto the brake. A parking spot would open up just as I pulled into a parking lot. A friend would call me on the phone minutes after I thought about calling him. All sorts of things.

So I was in a very different place that week, and my life felt quite surreal. I was hardly eating, hardly sleeping, and yet I felt better than I had ever felt. I had energy. I was quick to laugh at just about anything. There were moments when my good mood caused me to dance around the house, to say hello to strangers, or to stop and chat with students in the hall (something I rarely did).

I was having a great week. And then I remembered God. I suddenly realized that God must be playing a role in all this. But what was He trying to tell me? What was happening to me?

And then I had a very odd, possibly even insane thought: was God trying to talk to me? Was God trying to get my attention, trying to get some sort of message through to me?

I pondered this for a while, and then I decided it was true. From my very confused and excited state, I finally figured out where all of this was going, what God was telling me.

God wanted me to do something.

Deliver a message, perhaps.

Chapter 8

So it was Wednesday, and my day started out with a cup of coffee and the morning paper, as usual. Since it was Easter week, there was an article in the paper about the movie The Ten Commandments, which is typically shown on television around that time each year. The article was referring to a recent remake of the movie, and how it was incorporating a more modern approach to the story.

As I read the article, I heard a sound on my front porch. I stood up and walked over to the front door, wondering who or what could possibly be on my front porch at 7:15 in the morning. I opened the door and saw the neighbor’s cat, along with a dead mouse it had brought me as a gift. The cat had done this once before, years ago.

“Well thank you, Moses!” I said to the cat, and then I froze. It was one of those synchronicities I had become quite familiar with.

The cat’s name was Moses. And there I was, standing at the front door looking down at Moses and his gift. Or sacrifice, I thought. I had just been interrupted by a cat named Moses while reading about Moses. Yes, that was a good one. I could feel the chills and goose bumps. I said thank you to the cat and closed the door.

I walked slowly back to the kitchen table, trying to make sense out of my latest little coincidence. This one seemed far more interesting, more important, and more meaningful than most.

Did I mention that my middle name is Moses? Yes, indeed. My mom thought it would be an appropriate middle name for a baby that was abandoned by his mother. So I was named Harold Moses Phillips.

I sat back down at the table and wondered what the incident with the cat might mean, and it occurred to me that there could be far more to my middle name than I had previously considered. Moses was a leader. He delivered a message. Was I walking in his footsteps?

“Now hold it right there!” I can here the Christians saying. And the Jews. And the Muslims. And many others as well. “Aren’t you getting a little carried away here, Harry? Thinking that you’re another Moses, come to set people free?” And I agree with you, it was a ridiculous, far-fetched idea to consider. But remember, I was in a very strange and unfamiliar place at that point, and I was not viewing reality the same way you are. My life had become rather confusing, and I was looking for explanations, any explanations, that could help me make sense of it all.

So that morning I drove to school pondering the thought that I was somehow being told, by God no less, that I was to be a messenger of sorts. And from that vantage point, I could see my entire life leading up to that role. Everything seemed to fit into place – the abandonment in infancy, my identification with the less fortunate, my passion for religion and spirituality, my teaching profession. I saw it all, and it all fit together perfectly.

I arrived at school, walked straight to my classroom, and sat down at my desk. It was still early, and the students hadn’t yet arrived. I looked around at the posters and displays on the walls. Posters showing animals, skeletons, diagrams listing animals by class, genus, species. A whole room full of science. When I was in college, this was what I dreamed of having someday. And here it was, just as I had imagined it. But now I had moved beyond it all. I had discovered the reason behind it. I had found the why behind the how. And the why was much, much bigger!

It was in sixth period biology class that it happened. It was supposed to be a review session for a test the following day. We were discussing species migration, and for whatever reason one of my students asked a very unusual question.

“Hey, Mr. Phillips,” the student said. “Did humans ever migrate?”

Now, I don’t know why he asked that question. To this day, I wish I had asked him that. I don’t even remember which student it was. But had he not asked it, the rest of my story would have been very different. And you would not be reading about it.

It was one of those little things that can alter the entire course of your life. A key moment in which something happens, something seemingly insignificant, that changes everything. This was one of those moments.

“Well, it’s not really a question for science class,” I answered, “but sure, humans have migrated.”

I found the question interesting, so I continued. “In primitive cultures, humans often followed the migration of certain animals because that was their food source. Other groups of people moved with the seasons in order to be at the right place at the right time for vegetative food sources or for more hospitable living conditions. And any time there was a famine, you would see people move from one place to another.”

I thought of the Israelites, perhaps because I had been reading about them that morning. “For instance, you know the story of the Israelites – they moved down to Egypt during a famine, and wound up being enslaved for hundreds of years by Pharaoh. They survived, but I don’t think it played out the way they intended it to!”

I looked around at my students, but none of them were laughing, or even smiling. It seemed they either found no humor in my comment or had no idea what I was talking about.

“Come on guys, you know, the Israelites? In Egypt? The Exodus? Ever heard of the Exodus???”

Nothing. Blank faces, and shrugged shoulders. I was speechless. Then, finally, a voice from the back of the room said, “I know about the Israelites.” It was Suzanne, one of my brightest students.

“Good!” I said with relief. “Then you know what I’m talking about.”

Suzanne shook her head. “Not really. I don’t see what this has to do with migration. This isn’t going to be on the test, is it?”

The students laughed. I smiled. “No, it’s not. But I’m surprised the rest of you don’t know what I’m talking about. Don’t any of you guys go to church?”

I looked out at a classroom full of shaking heads. I couldn’t believe it. None of them knew about the Exodus, about all the trials and tribulations of the Israelites wandering through the desert.

I was determined to give them a very brief synopsis and then return to the test review. But first things first.

“The Israelites moved down to Egypt to escape a famine in their homeland. They ended up staying for hundreds of years, were enslaved by the king of the Egyptians, called Pharaoh, and then Moses came along and freed them.” There I was, talking about Moses in class. After having thought about him all morning.

“You guys have heard of Moses, right?” I asked.

The students all nodded. I breathed a sigh of relief.

“I certainly hope so,” I continued. “He’s one of the most important figures in history. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery. And they migrated back to the Holy Land, only they had to wander in the desert for 40 years before they got there. I’m really surprised you guys don’t know all this.”

I don’t know why, but this really affected me. How could these kids not know this stuff? I viewed it as common knowledge, and yet here was a class full of kids in their mid-teens who had no idea what the Exodus was or what it meant. A story that had been told again and again for almost three thousand years was being lost. This generation that sat before me was, for the most part, unaware of it. As I said, I was deeply affected.

I lost track of my thoughts for a moment, and I must have been staring at the class for far too long. The students began to move about uncomfortably and one of them said, “Mr. Phillips, are you okay?”

My attention snapped back to the classroom. “Sorry, guys,” I said, trying to smile. “My mind wandered there for a second. I think it’s important for you to know about the story of the Israelites. And I’m surprised that you don’t.”

“Well, why should we?” a student asked. “This isn’t church.”

The question struck a nerve.

“No, it’s not church. But this story is important. It is symbolic of the escape from bondage, of any type. The Israelites represent man’s condition, trapped by his own beliefs and limitations. And in order to escape his bondage, he must reach beyond his lower self, beyond his fears and his self-imposed limitations. He must shake free of the shackles of ignorance, call upon God, and free himself from the prison that he’s in.

“The story of Moses is the story of mankind, in many ways. They teach it in church, but it’s not just a religious story, or a historical record. It contains meaning. It teaches you that you must free yourself, and that to do so requires effort and faith. It’s an incredibly important story, and that’s why it has been passed on for thousands of years.” I finished talking and looked around at the faces in front of me. They looked puzzled. As if they had no idea what I was saying, or why I was saying it.

At that moment, I felt a jolt of energy. It was like a current of electricity that shot through my body, down my arms and legs and up my spine. I had the sudden feeling that these kids wanted me to tell them something. Something that would clarify for them why they were here, who they really were.

I looked at their faces and saw them not as teenagers in science class but as lost souls who had long since forgotten who they were. And their eyes seemed to be pleading with me to tell them.

Just then, the bell sounded signaling the end of class. The bell startled me and sent adrenalin surging through me. My heart thumped wildly in my chest.

The students began putting their notebooks in their backpacks. “What about the test, Mr. Phillips? We didn’t review much today.”

It was true. I hadn’t gone over much, and I had assured the class I would review everything in preparation for tomorrow’s test. It would have to wait until next week. But next week was Easter break, so it would have to wait until the week after that. All because I had gotten into a discussion about Moses.

The kids were starting to make their way toward the door, and I had to make a quick decision. “No test tomorrow,” I said. I heard a flurry of sighs.

“No homework, then?” one student asked. I thought for a moment. And then, following an impulse and without giving any thought to what I was saying, I blurted out, “Write something about Moses.”

The students stopped walking and turned toward me, eyebrows raised. “Huh?” several of them said.

“Write something about Moses,” I said again. “Anything. In honor of the holiday.”

“But why?” one of them asked. I felt annoyed by the question.“Why not? We talked about him in class. Just give it a little thought, and write something down. A paragraph or two, that’s all.”

I received some odd looks, but the students resumed their way toward the door.

“But Mr. Phillips, I don’t really know anything about him,” said a female voice. “How can I write about him?”

I thought for a moment. “Do you have a Bible at home?”

“Probably,” she answered.

“The beginning of the Bible is all about him. Or you can search on the internet. Don’t put much time or effort into it. Write anything you want. We’ll finish our discussion tomorrow.”

The class filed out, and I sat down in my desk chair. I folded my arms, took a deep breath, and looked up at the ceiling, trying to organize my thoughts. The last twenty minutes had seemed rushed, chaotic. I reviewed in my mind the scene that had just taken place, and gradually the impact of it hit me.

Not only had I discussed the Israelites in class, but I had sent the kids home with an assignment to write about Moses.

Was this going to get me in trouble?

Did I overstep my bounds?

Perhaps. But deep down, I knew I had done the right thing. These students had no spirituality in them whatsoever. They gave no thought at all to who they were, what they were. From my perspective, our society had failed them. It had failed to provide any encouragement, any stimulation along such lines.

Not that I had any particular agenda, other than to stimulate them. If they decided, upon further examination, that the whole God idea was bogus, that religion was a bunch of crap, I was fine with that. As long as they gave it some thought. As long as they decided for themselves, rather than swallowing whatever was being told (or not told) to them.

That was my point, I decided, as I sat at my desk that fateful afternoon. I just wanted people to think. To examine. To decide for themselves. I was tired of everyone just following the pack, deferring to whatever the loudest voices were saying.

I didn’t know what my role would be in all of this, but I had just thrown my hat into the ring.

However the cards were to fall, I was in the game.

I had sent a class full of teenagers home with a small but mighty task. In one sense it was no big deal – write a few words about a man who lived a long time ago. But in another sense, I was taking a step – my first step – toward something bigger, more meaningful, than all the teaching I had done for a decade.

I had opened the proverbial can of worms.

What would crawl out of it?

I would soon find out.

Chapter 9

That evening was uneventful. I ate dinner, read, and watched a little baseball on TV. I went to bed earlier than usual, for no particular reason. By ten o’clock, I was asleep.

The phone rang at 10:30.

I reached in the dark for the phone on the night table.

“Hello,” I said, rubbing my eyes and turning on the light.

“Harry,” said the voice on the other end. “It’s Barbara.”

Barbara Harris, middle school principal.

“Barbara,” I said, clearing my throat. “What’s going on?”

Barbara paused for a moment. “Well, it seems you’re the talk of the town tonight, Harry.”

“How so?” I asked, knowing full well what was coming.

“Harry, I received at least ten calls this evening. From parents of your students. Would you like to explain to me what went on in class today?”

By now I was sitting up in bed. I wasn’t sure how to answer. “It’s about the assignment then, huh?” I asked quietly.

“Yup. How about starting from the beginning? There was apparently some sort of religious discussion in class? Is that right?”

“Well, yes. One of the kids asked a question about human migration, and I mentioned that the Israelites migrated to Egypt. It seemed appropriate, given the Easter week. But honestly, Barbara, it was no big deal.”

“And what about this homework assignment? Was that ‘no big deal’ also?”

“Well, it was a last second impulse. The kids were walking out of the room, and I had to give them something to do because I had cancelled tomorrow’s test. So I told them to write something about Moses.”

Barbara was silent for several seconds. “Why?” she asked finally.

“I really don’t know, Barbara. I truly have no idea. We had just discussed him, and I had been thinking about him all day. I just blurted it out. Is this really that big of a deal?” I asked, knowing full well that she wouldn’t be calling me at this hour if it wasn’t.

“I’m afraid so, Harry. I had some very unpleasant conversations with some very annoyed parents tonight. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my evening. What were you thinking, Harry? Teaching about the Israelites in class? Science class, for God’s sake!” Her voice was now raised. I had never heard Barbara raise her voice like this.

I felt a pressure begin to build in my head. My face grew hot. I had no idea what to say. Part of me couldn’t really believe this was happening.

“I don’t know what else to say, Barb. As I said, I followed an impulse.”

“What about your discussion during class? Was that an impulse?”

“I suppose. I don’t know. Look, I can’t believe this is causing such an uproar. If the parents don’t approve of the assignment, then the students don’t have to do it.”

“Look, Harry, I’ve got some pissed off parents, and they are demanding that something be done. I left a message with Dr. Mercer, but I haven’t heard back from him.” Dick Mercer was the school district superintendent. I cringed when Barbara mentioned his name – there had always been something awkward and unspoken between Dr. Mercer and I, though I bore him no ill will. He simply had an air about him that rubbed me the wrong way – big man, big ego, that sort of thing.

“OK,” I responded, not knowing what else to say.

Barbara continued, “I’ll let you know what we decide, and I’ll call you first thing in the morning.”

“Right,” I said. “I really hope this all blows over. Honestly, Barbara, I had no intention of causing any trouble. I still can’t believe this could be that important.”

“Well, we’ll see. Truthfully, I don’t see the big deal either – you made an error in judgment, but I don’t think you meant anything by it. We just have to hope that our concerned parents see it that way, too. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

I hung up the phone and sat there in bed. I realized that my heart had been pounding heavily throughout the conversation. The muscles throughout my body were tense. I needed to get out of bed.

I swung my legs around and onto the floor, slid my feet into the old pair of slippers I kept there, and walked out of the bedroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen. I felt as though I were in a dream.

I reviewed the conversation with Barbara in my head. She had sounded pretty angry.

I felt bad for her. She didn’t deserve this. It was all my doing, yet she was now caught in the middle of it. And the worst was yet to come – Dr. Mercer would NOT be happy. He was as adamant as anyone about keeping religion out of our school district. He had been the first one to shoot down my idea to teach a religious studies course, so I knew he would be less than pleased to hear that I had discussed the Israelites in class today. I shuttered.

What could I do now? I felt like I should do something, but what? Nothing. All I could do was sit and wait. Wait for that phone call in the morning.

I spent the next hour thinking in circles. I went back and forth between “this is no big deal – it will all blow over” and “damn, I really screwed up.”

There were two scenarios – either it would all be fine, or it wouldn’t.

What would be the worst that could happen? Could I lose my job over this? No way, I decided. I was an extremely respected member of the teaching staff. I had no enemies (until that day, that is). And other than poor attendance over the past year, I had no strikes against me.

No, it would all blow over, I decided. Stop thinking about it, I told myself. Go get some sleep. One more day until Easter break.

I turned off the kitchen light, walked back to my bedroom, kicked off my slippers, crawled into bed, and turned off the light.

I glanced at the clock before closing my eyes.

It was exactly midnight.

Chapter 10

I got up with the alarm at 5:30AM. I made it all the way to the kitchen and had begun making a pot of coffee before I remembered the events from the day before and the phone conversation last night. Immediately, a knot formed in my stomach.

I put down the coffee pot and walked over to the table, slumping down in a chair. I glanced over at the phone on the wall. Soon, it would ring. Soon, I would know what the day would hold for me.

After staring at the phone for several seconds, I stood back up and walked over to the counter to finish making the coffee. Just as I slid the pot back in and turned on the coffee maker, the phone rang. I froze. The ring seemed loud and obnoxious. I didn’t want to answer it.

The phone rang a second time. I walked over and picked it up. “Hello?’

“Mr. Phillips,” came the reply, a low, serious voice. My shoulders sagged. I had hoped it would be Barbara.

“Dr. Mercer,” I said, trying to sound awake and enthusiastic. “Good morning.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that, Harry. I’m not having a particularly good morning. Are you?” I was not. But I didn’t answer.

He continued. “I talked to Barbara. I know all the details. I want you in my office at 7:15. Got it?”

“Got it,” I answered. I felt like a ten-year-old being scolded by his father.

“I’ve already spoken to several members of the school board,” Dr. Mercer continued, “as well as two of the parents. This is not how I wanted to go into Easter break, Harry.”

“Me neither,” I said slowly. “Me neither.” It was all I could think of to say. But then I had to ask, “Any idea where this is going, Dr. Mercer?”

“Well, yes,” he said, “At the very least we’re looking at some type of suspension.”

Suspension??? I couldn’t believe it. A wave of panic flashed through my body.“Why?” I asked, my voice a bit higher. I was angry. “Over a little homework assignment?”

“Harry,” he answered, his voice rising as well, “we have a strict policy on these things. You know that. You were way out of line yesterday. Frankly, you’ll be fortunate if that’s all that happens. One of the parents is very cozy with half the board members, and he is determined to have you dismissed. And honestly, I don’t see how that can be avoided at this point. Do you realize what you’re up against? This isn’t good. Not for you, not for any of us. Now I’ve got to get in the shower. I’ll see you in my office. 7:15.” And he hung up.

I slammed the phone down and sat down at the table. My pulse pounded in my temples. This whole thing was turning into a nightmare.I really could lose my job over this. Because of a stupid freaking homework assignment. Damn it.

Damn it damn it damn it.

I laid my head down on my arms in front of me.

Why? Why was this happening?

What the hell inspired me to talk about Moses yesterday?

What was going on?

I suddenly remembered all the recent coincidences. I remembered the cat and the dead mouse on the front porch.

I remembered how enthused I had felt lately, with a new sense of purpose. I had gone to school the previous day feeling better than I had felt in a year or more. And just like that, I had managed to pull the rug out from under myself.

I suddenly realized I had tears in my eyes. I sat up straight and wiped them away. I looked at the tears on my fingers. I was actually crying. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

And then they came. Tears. Lots of them. In torrents. I put my head back down on my arms, squeezed my eyes closed, and cried. Huge, body-shaking sobs, uncontrollable ones. I haven’t done this in years, I thought to myself, and I kept on crying.

For the better part of five minutes I cried, unable to stop. Months, and perhaps years of frustration and tension, all pouring out at once. I cried like a baby. I cried until I couldn’t cry any more.

Then I sat up and took a long, deep breath. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and actually smiled. I smiled at myself for crying like that. But I needed it. And I felt better. I really did. I had just released something that had been building inside me for a long time. And I felt good.I took another deep breath and thought about my predicament. Is this it? I wondered. Is this the end of my teaching career?

Maybe. Or maybe this will somehow pass. But I knew it wouldn’t. Somehow I knew, this was it. Whatever the rest of my life might hold, it probably wouldn’t involve teaching. At least not science. Perhaps something else…

I thought about my spiritual progress of recent months. I could see how things had led nicely and neatly right up to today. The day I would lose my job. If that was, in fact, how things were to play out.

But what else would I do? How would I earn a living? The reality of my situation began to set in.

I had no other career ideas. I had no foreseeable way to make money.

My thoughts trailed off.

And then, just like that, my anger came back. And this time, it wasn’t directed at me.

In a burst of anger I blurted out, “This is YOUR fault, God.” I sat there quietly, my words hanging in the air. This is your fault.

In my mind, I imagined a voice say, Oh really? And how is that?

“Because,” I said out loud, “if we humans weren’t so damned confused about everything, none of this would be happening.”

I heard no answer in my mind, so I continued.

“What is happening to me? I just want to understand. Everything’s falling apart. What did I do wrong? Why is this happening?”

No answer.

“I want to understand. And I want to help others understand. And what do I get? A bunch of freaking crap. That’s what I get.”


“I’m going to lose my job over this, God. I’m going to lose my damn job over this. Why? What did I do?”

The kitchen was dead silent.



“You there?”


I felt the tension begin to build in my body again. More tears were coming.

I put my head down and cried some more. I pounded my fist on the table, uttering a word I won’t repeat here. I uttered it many times, in fact.

I stood up, knocking my chair over in the process, and walked out of the kitchen.

I walked across the living room and opened the front door.

The sky was beginning to grow lighter. The air was chilly.

And there, standing on the mat outside the door, was the neighbor’s cat. Moses.

Dumfounded, I sank to my knees inside the door, looking out at the cat. Moses purred, rubbing his body along the door. I stared at the cat. My thoughts seemed to trail away. I felt the cool air on my face. The cat purred.

My mind snapped to attention. I’m losing it, I thought to myself. I think I’m losing it.

I can’t do this anymore. I give up.

“God,” I said with a raised voice. “I give up. You win. I can’t do it any more. I give up.”

I felt a chill run through my body. And another. And another.

More tears welled up in my eyes. My entire body was filled with chills. And it wasn’t just the cold air coming through the screen door. My body felt different.

In my mind, I heard the words, stand up, Harry.

I stood up. I knew it was my own imagination, but it felt right. So I stood up.

Now what?, I thought.

And in my mind, in my imagination, I heard the words that would change me forever.

Sue me.

Another wave of chills ran through my body, this one even stronger.

“Sue me?” I said out loud. “Is that what you said?” I realized I was talking to myself. But I imagined that I was talking to God.

“Do you want me to sue you?” I asked. There was no answer.

At least, I didn’t hear one. But I felt a surge of emotion. More chills, and I began to shake.

Again, a bit louder this time, I repeated “You want me to SUE you?” Still no answer. Only chills. Only trembling.

“God?” I said one last time. And then I was silent. For several minutes I stood there, not moving.

Then I stepped back and closed the front door.

I turned and walked slowly into the kitchen.

What just happened? I thought. Where did that thought come from?

Sue God???

I shook my head. What an odd thought to have.

I walked into the kitchen, picked the chair up off the floor, and sat down. Then I propped my elbows up on the table, put my head in my hands, and took a deep breath.

I had lost track of time. I looked at the clock – it was now 6:20. In less than an hour, I would know my fate. And yet somehow I already knew my fate. This wasn’t going to blow over. I knew it wouldn’t. By the end of the day, I would cease to be a science teacher.

And then what? I once again folded my arms down on the table in front of me and rested my head on them. Closing my eyes, I thought with a laugh, Well, I guess I’ll just have to sue God.

I smiled, and I felt my body relax. After all that had gone on that morning and the day before, it felt good to smile. The idea of suing God amused me. I took another deep breath. And another.

And then, just like that, I fell asleep.

Chapter 11

I awoke to the phone ringing.

I lifted my head and looked at the clock. It was 7:30.

I jumped up from my chair, darted over to the phone, and snatched it off the wall.


“Harry, what’s going on? Why aren’t you here?” It was Dr. Mercer, sounding not the least bit happy.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was still in a daze, trying to figure out how I had managed to fall asleep at such a time.

“Sorry, Dr. Mercer,” I finally said. “Did I miss the meeting?”

“Yes. You missed it.”

“Do I still have a job?” I asked, somewhat jokingly.“Hard to say, Harry. For the moment, you’re officially suspended. But I imagine we’re looking at a termination, yes.”

I was stunned.

Despite the fact that I had known this was how things were going to play out, I was stunned.

“Don’t bother coming in,” Dr. Mercer continued, not waiting for me to respond. “You’ll get a call if anything new develops.” And he hung up.

I leaned against the kitchen wall, phone in hand, struggling to make sense of it all.It really happened.I was done teaching. It was over. Just like that.Slowly, I hung up the phone and sat back down at the table.

Now what?

I had no idea. For the first time in my life, my future was blank. Completely blank.

Part of me was relieved. I felt as though I had just finished a book, or slammed a door shut. A phase completed, a chapter ended.

I took a deep breath. And then I remembered God.

“Ah, God!” I shouted. “What do you think of all this?!”

I smiled. “I said I was going to sue you. You ready?”

The house seemed quieter than usual. Not a sound.

I laughed and stood up. I walked over to my desk, opened the middle drawer, and took out a pencil and a notebook. Then I carried them back to the kitchen table and sat down. I opened the notebook to the first page.

I took a long, deep breath, and then another, and I closed my eyes.

Thoughts flowed through my head, one after another. Images of courtrooms, images of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha. Images of saints, priests, monks, nuns. I saw Mecca, and thousands of men in white sheets sitting upon a rock covered hill.

I saw crusaders on horseback holding blood-tipped swords. I saw suicide bombers and planes flying into buildings.

I saw a man on a cross. I saw a woman holding a dying man in the street. I saw a man in a grey suit, standing at a pulpit, one hand holding a Bible and the other raised in a clenched fist.

I opened my eyes, and my kitchen came flooding back. I sat for several minutes pondering the images that had just moved through my mind. Then I thought about what a lawsuit against God might sound like, how it would be worded. I thought of the legal jargon I had seen and heard in movies and on television. Then I picked up the pencil and wrote the following:

I, Harold Phillips, hereby sue God, our Maker.

I don’t know if anyone else will ever know about this, but at this point it does not matter. I think I may have a case, and I shall do my best to present it here.

I name myself, Harold M. Phillips, as plaintiff.

I name God as the defendant.

I am accusing God of gross negligence and inciting disharmony.

The reasons for my accusations are as follows:

1. God has sent various messengers and prophets and saints, but these individuals have delivered conflicting messages. There are contradictions between them, and God has made no apparent effort to clarify for us which messages are correct and which ones are incorrect. Therefore, the human race has been left to interpret these messages. And we can all see where that has gotten us.

2. God has allowed the human race to splinter into innumerable groups, each with their own beliefs, and He (or She) has allowed us to argue, fight, and murder each other, often in His (or Her) name.

I, on behalf of the human race, hereby accuse God of the charges above, and I seek, as compensation for pain and suffering, the following:

1. God will send us a new messenger, one that will specify which previous messages were authentic and which were not. This messenger will also clarify the underlying truth existing in all spiritual teachings, and point out where the human race has erred in interpreting these teachings.

2. God will provide, through His (or Her) messenger, a new message, one that encompasses and clarifies the Truth. He (or She) will make this new message available to all members of the human race and will NOT allow it to become distorted or manipulated in the way that virtually all previous messages have.

I do this knowing full well that I may be damning myself in some way. I do it knowing full well that the words I have written here will be considered blasphemous by adherents to many religions. And I do it knowing full well that my time spent in the afterlife (if I am privileged to make it there) may be affected by the thoughts in my head and the words on these pages.

However, I feel in my heart that God, if He (or She) is indeed listening and paying attention to what I am doing and thinking and writing here today, knows that my intentions are pure, and that my motivation is nothing short of wanting to understand, once and for all, the Truth.

I, Harold M. Phillips, seek nothing but the Truth.

And I am asking God to deliver it to me.

To all of us.

Once and for all.

Chapter 12

The next few months moved very quickly, and I will only summarize them here. If is seems as though I’m skipping too many details, I apologize. But we have a long story to get through, and this is only the beginning. So I will be brief.

Okay, so I sued God. Or I tried. But quite frankly, there isn’t really much to say about it. This story isn’t actually about me suing God. Which is rather strange, considering the name of this book. But it’s true. This story is not about me trying to sue God. It’s about all the things that happened as a result of me trying to sue God.

So I really don’t have much to tell you about the lawsuit itself.The lawyer I hired, on the other hand, is a different story.The lawyer I hired would eventually become a key figure in the story I’m telling you. And so I will tell you about my lawyer.

I nearly fell in love with Anne the first time I heard her voice. It would be several weeks before I would meet her in person, but her voice mesmerized me immediately.

From the very beginning, I felt like I had always known her. Maybe not this version of her - not the life she was currently living. But her personality, I had somehow always known. That’s how it felt, right from the start. And it has ever since.

In the weeks following my dismissal from the middle school (it was actually a suspension, but eventually became a dismissal), I went about contacting a number of local attorneys, most of whom politely declined to take me on as a client. Others were not so polite, and implied that I was either crazy or perpetrating some kind of joke.

I took all of the rejections lightly, knowing full well that it would take some time to find a lawyer who actually understood why I was doing what I was doing. Eventually, I was referred to a woman in Columbus who had done some work for a number of controversial activist groups. The woman’s name was Anne Lewis, and she had been practicing law for 12 years. I left a message for her, including the basic points of my case. She was intrigued by my message, and that evening we spoke on the phone.

Anne and I talked for over an hour, and the more we talked the more excited we grew. I knew she had the perfect personality for such an endeavor, and she told me later that she had hung up the phone that night hoping and praying thatI would choose her to represent the case. I was just as excited and knew that I had found the right person. My determination had paid off. I now had an attorney.

Anne had a number of friends who worked in the media in Columbus as well as around the country. She was very connected and very talkative, and within several days news began to spread that a man from Ohio was attempting to sue God in state court. If I wanted publicity for the case, I had found the perfect lawyer. If not, I had made a terrible mistake.

In fact, I did want publicity. Lots of it. That was the point, as far as I was concerned. Obviously, I wasn’t suing God for money or anything else tangible. At least nothing that any court would consider tangible. First and foremost, I wanted people to think. I wanted them to hear about the lawsuit and ponder the reasons behind it. I wanted people who had never before considered such things to ask themselves why this man was suing God.

Within a week of taking the case, Anne had told dozens of friends and associates about it. And it wasn’t long before my telephone began to ring. I received a few calls the first week, more than a dozen the following week, and after that I gave up answering the phone. Anne decided it would be wise to create a website that would detail the case and the reasons behind it, as well as provide a list of answers to some of the questions that were being asked. One of Anne’s friends volunteered to design and host the website, free of charge, and soon our site was up and running.

The attention being paid to myself and the case was somewhat unnerving for me at first. It was all happening quite fast, almost too fast. I was accustomed to moving slowly through life, pondering decisions and taking my time making them.

Unlike myself, Anne was a very fast mover. The pace of events suited her perfectly. I found myself taking a back seat and watching Anne and everyone else involved do their thing. After a time, I realized that this was just fine. It was enough for me to have initiated the lawsuit. I sometimes smiled when I thought about how little work I was actually doing.

Reporters showed up at my house from time to time, and they called my phone every day. Most of the time I referred them to Anne, or to a public relations friend of hers whom she had brought in to deal with media issues.

It became obvious within a month of initiating the lawsuit that the actual filing of the suit in court was secondary to the attention it was getting. In fact, it was almost irrelevant whether any court would hear the case at all. People wanted to know who this guy was and why he was suing God. They wanted to know what he was thinking. They wanted to know if he was crazy.

The website received more visitors each day, and soon we added a message board. I spent time each day keeping up with the various conversations on the site, occasionally responding to one personally (which created some excitement). In fact, I was well on my way to becoming a celebrity of sorts. All of which I found rather strange.

The school district heard about the lawsuit and quietly informed me that it would be better if we permanently ended our relationship. I was certainly not surprised, nor was I disappointed. I had other interests to pursue now, and although I might return to teaching someday, I had no interest in doing so in the foreseeable future.

I soon grew accustomed to the attention I was getting. And it wasn’t long before I actually began to like it. My neighbors were friendlier to me than ever, and not a day went by without a stranger in town saying hello or asking how the lawsuit was going. The fact that the lawsuit had not yet gone anywhere seemed irrelevant. The phone was ringing off the hook. The website was getting more visitors. Newspaper articles were being written about me.

I felt quite strongly that it was all happening for a reason, though I couldn’t see what that reason was. But I had been told to sue God, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

Only God knew where all of this was going.

Chapter 13

In my backyard was a large mound of dirt. It was there when I bought the house – the previous owner had torn down the old house and built a new one, complete with a full-size basement. The dirt that was removed to make room for the basement had been piled at the back of the property and was now covered with grass and weeds.

The mound was almost ten feet tall, and I often climbed to the top to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, the surrounding trees and houses (which were all ranchers in my neighborhood) were a bit too tall, and at certain times of the year I couldn’t quite get a clear view of the horizon. But I often sat there anyway, watching the sun sinking lower in the evening sky and thinking about things. I even caught a sunrise once in a while.

One morning, I was awakened by a bird singing outside my bedroom window. It was late spring, and nature was in full swing outside. The sun had not yet risen.

I sat up, opened the blind, and looked outside. The sky was beginning to glow in the east. To my right, the western sky was still dark.

As I looked for the source of the song that had awakened me, I saw a dark-colored bird standing atop the mound of dirt and grass. The bird hopped around as it sang. It was a beautiful little song, and I decided that I didn’t mind being awakened by such a treat.

The bird stopped singing and flew from the mound to a pile of old bricks at the back right corner of the property. The bird landed on one of the bricks and resumed singing. I listened some more, then started thinking about the pile of bricks. They, too, had been left there by the previous owner.

Several years back, I had used some of the bricks to build a new walkway leading down from my front steps to the sidewalk. I had chosen the ones that were in the best shape but there were still hundreds, maybe even thousands of bricks left that were in decent shape.

The bird flew back to the mound and once again resumed its song. I was no longer paying attention to the bird, however. I was thinking about the bricks. It occurred to me that I could build a platform on top of the mound using some of the bricks. Then I would I have a nice place to sit to watch the sunset.

My mind began to race with ideas. I thought about the different ways I could build the platform. It could be round or square. I would need to level off the top of the mound. I could build a set of brick stairs leading to the top. I walked into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee, still thinking about the mound and platform.

After I finished preparing the coffee, I walked out front to fetch the newspaper. I brought the paper back in to the kitchen, took it out of its bag, and spread it out on the table. Then I poured myself a cup of coffee, added cream and sugar, and sat down to read the paper.

The front page contained the usual local new stories, as well as a few involving the CIA, the president’s latest poll numbers, and the never-ending concerns in the Middle East.

I began to read, but none of the articles interested me enough to hold my attention. My mind kept drifting back to the mound and the bricks in the backyard. For some reason, that seemed far more interesting to me than whatever was going on in the world.

I grabbed a notebook from my desk (the very same one in which I had written out my accusations against God), took out a pencil from the desk drawer, sat back down at the kitchen table, and began to sketch some ideas for my platform.

Over the next hour, I made many sketches. I drew round platforms and square ones. I drew mounds with one staircase, mounds with staircases on each side, and even one with a staircase that spiraled around from the ground up to the top. After an hour and several cups of coffee, the kitchen table was covered with sketches. And by the end of that hour, I had finally found a design that I liked.

The sketch I now held in my hands was a square, pyramid-like mound with steps covering the full length of all four sides. The bottom three steps on each side were three bricks high and four bricks deep. The next seven steps were the same height but shallower, only two bricks deep, and then the top three steps were the same as the bottom three.

I found through my sketches that this combination of deep and shallow steps gave the mound a curved profile. The slope of each side rose gradually from the ground, then became steep for seven steps, then became gradual again before reaching the top. It was sort of bell-shaped, with a flat top.

I held the sketch at arm’s length. I loved the smooth curve of the sides. It looked somewhat like a pyramid, but a pyramid with the peak removed and the sides curved rather than straight. The longer I looked at the sketch, the more I loved it. I wanted to get started right away.

Unfortunately, I had a late-morning appointment with Anne. The mound would have to wait.

I ate a bowl of cereal, took a quick shower, and left the house at nine o’clock. The meeting was in Anne’s office, a drive of 45 minutes. On the way, I thought about the mound and decided that I would begin working on it as soon as I returned home.

The meeting with Anne was short but productive. When I returned home early that afternoon, I walked straight around to the back of the house and began to look more closely at the mound. The shape would have to be changed slightly –it was almost round, as you would expect a big pile of dirt to be. I would have to shape it into a square as I went.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting through bricks. I wanted to get started on the platform, but first I had to sort the good bricks from the bad ones. I realized that the sorting process would take a while, and that I probably wouldn’t get around to placing any on the mound that day. But that was okay.

The bird that had awakened me that morning came back from time to time, still singing his song. It was springtime. He was calling, I assumed, for the girl of his dreams.

I had dreams of my own.
I had a new project, a new inspiration. I wasn’t thinking about teaching or about lawsuits. I wasn’t thinking about science or religion or Moses or the Israelites.

I was thinking about building something new, something different. I was thinking about dirt. I was thinking about bricks.

I was thinking about building a mountain.

My very own mountain.

Chapter 14

Let me tell you a little bit about Anne.

Anne had everything going for her, at least on the outside. She had accomplished everything she had ever set out to accomplish. She was a successful lawyer, financially secure, well connected. She had an active social life, plenty of friends (male and female), and was quite attractive.

As I said, she had everything going for her. Except for one thing: she had never found that perfect someone. Now, few of us would claim to have found the perfect someone. Most of us have had long-term relationships, many of us are married, and there are very few people who would claim to have never been in love - or something close to love – at least once in their lives.

Anne’s problem was that she had been so successful at everything else, her love life seemed tragic by contrast. If the others aspects of her life had incorporated more struggle, like most of us, then her love life would not have seemed so disappointing. But Anne had succeeded at everything else she had attempted, and so she expected to succeed in the romantic department as well. But it didn’t happen.

So Anne was left with a gaping hole, and that gaping hole was in her heart. She tried to fill it. She dated from time to time. She developed crushes, had promising first dates, and even had passionate weekend getaways from time to time. But nothing lasted. Nothing could fill that gaping hole.

Now, in my opinion, Anne’s biggest problem was that she was too smart. Too intelligent for her own good. And, perhaps, too successful at everything else in her life. And when she failed time and time again to find that perfect relationship, she used that intelligence of hers to dwell on, analyze, and dissect everything that went wrong, everything that might be wrong with her. The more attention she gave to such things, the more frustrated she grew, the more inadequate she felt, and the more depressed she became.

Anne would never admit to anyone that she was depressed. And for the most part she wasn’t. It was only when she turned her attention to her love life (or lack of it) that the depression started up again. And when she went down that road, there was no telling how dark it would be this time around. Sometimes it was bad. Really bad. And it never resolved itself. She was never able to think her way out of it, to discover some thought or idea that would clarify everything for her. So around and around she went. And she was lonely.

I said earlier that I almost fell in love with Anne the first time I heard her voice. But the truth is, I didn’t almost fall in love with her, I did fall in love with her. And I’ve been in love with her ever since. Not the starry-eyed, head-over-heels kind of love, but a deep appreciation that has withstood all the little conflicts and squabbles we have created with one another over the years.

When I finally met her in person, my first impression of Anne was that she was not the same person that I had come to know over the phone. She was far more intense and direct and serious in person. And at first, I didn’t like it. It was disturbing to me. We had talked for hours on the phone, not just about the lawsuit but about all sorts of things, personal and otherwise. There was a humorous chemistry between us, but that chemistry sometimes disappeared when we were in each other’s presence. I think she noticed it too. Maybe it was me that was different, not her. But most likely, it was both of us.

The oddest thing about our relationship, and what made it different for me than any other I had been in, was that I was able to be myself more than I had ever been previously. There was none of that self conscious second-guessing that so often goes on in similar relationships. In a way, she felt more like a sister or a cousin that someone I had romantic feelings for.

Yes, I had romantic feelings for Anne, though I never actually told her so, and she never indicated that she felt that way about me. There was sometimes a slightly sexual tone to our conversations, some playful banter, but it never went any further than that.

Truth be told, I would have married Anne if she had brought up the possibility. If companionship is the primary reason for marriage, then she and I were a perfect match. But I think Anne needed or wanted more than companionship. She was far more intense than I was in the area of relationships. She wanted to search and to find that perfect someone. She had actively pursued romance for most of her adult life, while I had not. And from her many references to the guys she had dated over the years, it was obvious to me that a romantic relationship was far more of a priority for her than it was for me.

So that was the way things were between Anne and I - the closest of friends, with a touch of playfulness to keep it interesting. And despite a number of stretches during which I wished it could be more than it was, I was, for the most part, fine with that.

And I think she was, too.