It started 26 years ago at St. Benedict Center in Madison, Wisconsin. I was a member of a committee that sponsored a stewardship conference featuring Douglas John Hall, author of The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age. Hall was really fantastic. He talked of all the wonderful stewardship going on in the world, and decried his sense that so little of it was happening in the church. His talk was not about the narrowly framed financial development many people had come to hear, but rather about bigger questions of life and what is worth living for.
As committee chair I had the opportunity to spend an evening with Doug Hall while in Madison. That too was a great experience. It rekindled the idealism in me that 6 years in conflicted churches had battered down. Then, in a life-defining moment, I went into the bookstore at the retreat center and bought the book: Original Blessing, by Matthew Fox.
I had read two other books by Matt Fox, both given to me by my internship supervisor, Larry Rezash in Yorkville, Illinois. I had been intrigued by their contrarian view of spirituality. Original Blessing went much further. It was like a spiritual manifesto, calling people to an entirely new view of themselves and the world. I couldn't put it down, or at least didn't want to. Back home in Appleton, Wisconsin, reading the book while putting off going to the office, I turned to the contact information for Matt Fox's graduate program in Oakland, California. I made the expensive, long-distance call and requested application materials.
During this little episode, Sally had been upstairs taking a nap with Erin and Megan, then 1 and 4 years of age. When Sally came downstairs I told her about calling California. Her simple reply: "When are we leaving?"