Not long after the two visions of a man with a white bread—and the deep yet intangible sense that I was loved and all would be well—I had a vivid dream that has stayed with me for fifty years. I was at a camp or retreat center near a lake. Enemy soldiers invaded the camp and rounded us up in the mess hall. They told us, calmly, that they did not have enough supplies to feed captives so they were going to shoot us. Everyone with me began to panic. Some took cyanide pills, others started crying and begging for their lives. The soldiers lined us up and began to execute us. Somehow, instead of panicking, I looked out the big picture window at the lake and sky and trees and was overcome with the knowledge that there was more to life than than me and what I was experiencing right then. I told myself not to be afraid. In the painting I am raising my hands to the God of creation—not to the soldier with the gun. In my dream when I was shot, I did not lose consciousness but was released from my body. The bullet broke the tension that held my existence within the confines of my body and I expanded out into a peaceful place of love. When I awoke I realized that if I had been afraid when the bullet released me, I would have been pulled into the center of my own gravity—and disappeared. The dream reinforced the message from my visions: Don’t be afraid. I was baptized and confirmed at St Andrews Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, even though my father never attended and my mother only went in a social capacity. Nevertheless I felt comfortable within the staid stone church and the humming repetition of the liturgy. St Andrews sponsored a campus ministry called Canterbury House, one of the coolest “coffee houses” in the midwest with performances by top folk musicians. The campus priest was super cool himself and I made an appointment to discuss my spiritual experiences. I sat in his office in the basement of coffee house, fearful and intimidated, and asked if anyone in the Bible ever had visions or dreams. He looked squarely at me and said, “No.” From Sunday School and religion classes at boarding school, I should have known he was wrong. But I didn’t have the nerve to challenge him and certainly wasn’t going to present myself as a weirdo, so I left, dejected. The visions and dream stayed with me and made me want to be a courageous, loving person, but I had no idea how to recapture those feelings. I wrote in my diary that I wanted to live my life to make other people happy, but how could I do that if I wasn’t happy myself? The last thing I wanted to be was a hypocrite. So I became a hedonist.

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