• A Sudden Light Interior


Through the treesJim Alderdice, my high school history teacher, first introduced me to the Transcendentalists in one of his classes.  I know we all have had a teacher or three who has influenced our ways of thinking in our formative teen years, and Mr. Alderdice was one of mine.  I enjoyed exploring and discussing the ideas of these thinkers—that we are connected to Nature on a fundamental level, and that we can’t hide from this connection by claiming to not see it.

I grew up in a family of mixed religious background:  my father was an old school Brooklyn Jew, my mother a tenuous Episcopalian, though her mother was raised in a Catholic convent in Canada, and her mother before that was a Tlingit Indian from the small town of Klawock on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.  So I was raised…what?  Not much.  Eventually, I was baptized in the Unitarian Church, but that didn’t stick really.  What stuck, for me were the ideas Mr. Alderdice introduced:  we are all connected throughout all time, going forward and backward.   That our world is an intricate tapestry in which every thread counts equally, because every thread touches every other thread at some point.  Oh, some threads may get to stand out a bit more at certain times because of the pattern of the weave.  But eternity has a way of leveling things…

This is a very old idea, if we look to other cultures and traditions.  What I enjoyed about bringing these ideas of my view of spirituality into my book is that some of the ideas that we struggle with today–the environment and our relationship to it—were the same ideas previous generations of our own families struggled with a hundred and twenty years ago during the conservation movement, and before that as well.  If I hope for one thing in my life, is that my children will learn from my experiences and move forward, and that my childrens’ children will continue to learn.  Our spiritual relationship with this universe is an ongoing conversation; if we are deaf to the echoes of our past, we will stumble rather than ascend.

From A Sudden Light:

page 108
“I hear hundreds of years of life. I hear wind and rain and fire and beetles. I hear the seasons changing and birds and squirrels. I hear the life of the trees this wood came from.” – Jones Riddell speaking to his 14 year old son, Trevor, about listening to a piece of wood

page 146
“Perhaps that is what life is all about—the search for such a connection. The search for magic. The search for the inexplicable. Not in order to explain it, or contain it. Simply in order to feel it. Because in that recognition of the sublime, we see for a moment the entire universe in the palm of our hand. And in that moment, we touch the face of God.”

page 192.
“We are all connected. The living to the nonliving, as the nonliving to the living. All things in all directions in all times. It is only in the physical dimension that we have limitations. (The membrane between us is thinner than you think.)”

page 196.
“We are all connectedI believed it then and believe it still nowat least in an energetic sense. And who’s to say this energy is not real? We can’t see gravity, either, yet we don’t deny it. We can’t see magnetism, yet we don’t question its forcefulness. So, why, then, when peoplespiritual peopletalk about a force of substance that binds us all, that unites us allwhen these people talk about soulswhy do we dismiss them as charlatans?”