Before I left the Moonies, a few things happened that were to become fairly relevant in my life. So much of my time there, particularly the last few months was a struggle of faith. Everyone around me seemed so solid in their faith and were sure they had the answers and all I had were questions I could barely formulate. For the first time in my life I believed that God existed and that there was a purpose to it all but surely it had more to do than trying to make up for sins that our ancestors had done. Sensing my doubts, the people who were the leaders of the branch of the church had me stay at their training camp in the Nappa Valley. They figured that being trained constantly would be a good influence on my behaviour. Perhaps it was.
So one day I was with a group that consisted of myself, Dorie, our group leader for the week and a bunch of new recruits, there for their 21 days of training and indoctrination. One of the latter was an older woman, named Myrtle, her grandkids had joined the church and she was checking it out and trying to understand what it was all about. We were going on a group hike to discuss the lecture that we had just heard. I was probably at my lowest ebb. Depressed and trying to inspire, it felt more than a little schizophrenic . Myrtle was a charming woman with a warm smile and large amounts of empathy.
As we walked up the hill, Myrtle holding onto my arm for balance, I found myself praying “God, Heavenly father, please give me an answer.” All of a sudden, I felt the sun on me. I became aware of everything around me, every flower, every tree, every blade of grass and I felt that I fit and that it was right. Not that I fit where I was but that I fit wherever I was. I was right and everything was right. I existed as part of everything and that I was loved. Not as a Moonie but as myself. That moment seemed to go on forever and yet only last a second. I found that I couldn’t explain what had happened to anybody else there, even Myrtle. To be more accurate, I doubt that anyone even noticed and yet for me the effect was profound. I believe that this experience helped give me the courage to leave when I felt it was time. In all the years to come, the quest for that feeling has taken me many places both internally and externally.