by Judy Horton
When I was 37 (half the age I am now) I was gifted with a disturbing spiritual experience. Working away on a paper for a graduate course on a muggy April afternoon, I reached for the umpteenth cigarette of the day.
As I lit it and inhaled, something happened and I became aware of a Presence surrounding me. I saw nothing, but somehow the Presence allowed me to understand the impact compulsive smoking was having on my still relatively young and healthy body.
I learned nothing from the Presence beyond what I already knew intellectually except that the Presence cared and made it possible for me to somehow witness it happening—the pollution of my lungs, the clamping down of my capillaries and arteries, the raising of my already-problematic blood pressure.
The experience scared the dickens out of me. I never touched another cigarette again except to toss it into the garbage. Instead, I began my spiritual journey. I learned that what happened to me had happened to others—that out of a clear blue sky, usually in the late 30's or early 40's, a clarion call would be heard, and a decision would be made to ignore it or answer it.
For my part, I set off immediately on a blind search which led to adventures by turns instructive, hilarious, and deeply touching.
Today, 37 years later, my husband and I have been members of St. Louis King of France parish for 13 years, having both converted in the mid-90's. I have been offered the grace of sharing my journey with you. I welcome your questions and comments at email@example.com.