“Paul, I’m on the way out.” Grandpa’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d called him after hearing of his hospitalization.
In my childhood, whenever Grandpa visited, it was thrilling as Christmas morning. Whenever he would leave to return to his Chicago home, it felt like something was being torn out of me as my sobbing grief erupted into a searing migraine followed by nausea.
And now, here I was, a young man in my early twenties, talking to this beloved figure as he stood at death’s door. I was awestruck, for it seemed he was taking me by the hand to the very edge of life while he peered wide-eyed beyond the curtain.
Yet he was so matter-of–fact about it: “I’m on the way out.” There was no fear, no desperation, only an update of his progress in moving from one world to the next.
It would be my final conversation with him. He died minutes after we hung up.
I sat on the edge of my bed for the longest time trying to make sense of what had just happened. It felt like I’d stumbled into territory that was off limits to mortals. The ticket taker of the universe had somehow gotten confused and I was mistakenly granted admittance to the theater of the sacred. I half expected someone to yell, “Hey! Who let that kid in here?”
Ever since, I’ve been sneaking into shows where I‘ve had no business, to witness episodes of inexplicable grace.
One time I hitchhiked across the USA and found myself standing amidst the redwoods of Big Sur, California. In a moment of extreme vulnerability, the scene suddenly shifted into a radiance that revealed the spiritual underpinnings of the material world.
Another time I fell off the roof of a home we were building and fractured my left hip. Caught in a downward spiral of pain and anxiety, I abruptly broke into another dimension of utter peace, freedom, and joy. In that wondrous realm I stood in front of a being of light as we conversed telepathically about my life.
There were encounters with my deceased father as he introduced me to his evolution beyond death. This man, with whom I’d had so many struggles while he was alive, became increasingly angelic, to the point where I didn’t want to leave his presence.
There was Gwendolyn, who emerged out of a dream with such impact that, apart from my family, I knew this was the most important relationship of my life. She has become an impeccable guide in the integration of the dream state with waking life.
There were my experiences at The Monroe Institute where I was introduced to the City of Light – a landscape so vibrant that the buildings themselves glowed with luminescent, aching beauty.
But most of all, there have been times of intense, heart-felt connection to others, when our spirits intertwined to reveal our ineffable essence hiding beneath this masquerade of flesh.
I know that such experiences are madness in a society that acknowledges only our physical nature. For much of my early life I declined to talk openly about such things.
But there comes a time when you have to be true to your innermost being and passion. And so this strange, looping path at the edge of transcendence has become my life’s work, for I am convinced that it is the key to humanity’s next evolutionary step. The theater of the sacred awaits us all.