That moment happened to me by “chance.” I was renting a room from my boss and he and his wife were Catholic. I wasn’t impressed or depressed with all the “Catholic stuff” they had in their house. I was busy inventing my own religion, and I had no use for “organized religion.”
One day Carmella said to me, “I’m a coordinator for perpetual adoration and one of my guardians is sick and I have to take her holy hour. Could you give me a ride downtown?” I said, “Wait. What? Say that in English.” She explained she needed to go pray at church for an hour. I said “OK, as long as I can pray with you.” In my head, I was thinking, “I’ll show these Catholics how a pagan prays.” I didn’t know Carmella had been praying Rosaries for my conversion.
We got to the adoration chapel, a tiny room at Christ the King cathedral on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. Carmella knelt to pray and I joined her. I did what I always did in nature. I went into a “Sacred Silence” meditation state, opened my heart, and said in my heart, “What are you trying to tell me?”
I looked at what Carmella was looking at. I didn’t have a clue what that was on the altar. I didn’t know what Catholics believed about the Eucharist. It looked like a tree to me. Then, in my heart, I heard, “This is the Tree of Life.” Then I had what I was later to find out is called “private revelation.” I can’t share all that was revealed to me, but it wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me, anyway. It had to do with an experience of being lost I once had in Yosemite. Symbols and signs from that experience coalesced into a basic message. “I saved you through the agency of an angel then, and I am here now.”
I left that chapel a “Catholic by desire.” The day before, I had picked up a Catholic catechism and said to myself, “Inventions of men.” The day after my experience in the chapel, I picked up that same catechism and it all began to make sense.