I am a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry, ordained interfaith minister, author, husband and father. I started writing books about psychology and spirituality at midlife and I couldnít stop. Looking back now, I am beginning to see the larger design of my work, like one of my wifeís quilts when itís hung, all the pieces finally in place, the design evident. Quite without planning, I have been following a single vision of life that I am certain is true, though I can take no credit for it. As music comes through a composer, this vision came through me.
I wrote Death of a Hero, Birth of the Soul -- a description of the male midlife passage -- while dealing with my own midlife and specializing with menís issues in my psychology practice. The book argued that the central developmental task men faced in their forties was to replace the traditional model of manhood -- driven, competitive, soul-numbing and exhausting, with a deeper and truer model, one that unleashes the true self and its gifts. This first book also hinted at the possibility of one day living in the divine world, an experience forgotten since theologians convinced the Western World that we had been expelled from the Garden for some mythical figureís "Original Sin."
I then moved more deeply into the spiritual realm. Intuiting that psychotherapy was only half the solution to psychological problems, I wrote But Where Is God? Psychotherapy and the Religious Search. It was meant for psychotherapists of all stripes who either left spirituality out of their work (often dismissing its insights as irrelevant or even pathological) or inadvertently (and unethically) imposed their own spiritual beliefs on their clients. I wanted to heal the split between the defiantly empirical medical model and the sometimes rigid theologies of religion. I knew that psychology more fully appreciated the dark side of religion (the reality of sexual scandals, religiously-rationalized child abuse, spiritual addictions) and that religion better appreciated the forgotten spiritual side of healing (the value of prayer, the healing of Presence, and the importance of ultimate questions).
After envisioning a spiritually-oriented psychotherapy, I wrote Ordinary Enlightenment: Experiencing Godís Presence in Everyday Life, for I longed to understand the nature of Presence and how to experience it. By the time the book was completed, I knew firsthand what Godís Presence felt like and how it changes us. I had entered the realm of mysticism -- the direct experience of divinity -- and began to see how this experience can transfigure the world in the most extraordinary ways.
The mystics from across time and religion often talk about seeing Heaven on Earth. They say that Heaven is already here when we are awake enough to see it, and that this awakening occurs in the experience of the Presence. As I found more and more evidence of this universal realization, I was thrilled and amazed -- Heaven on Earth seems to the best-kept secret of the spiritual life! I wondered, "Why doesnít everyone and every religion talk about this?" I explored this amazing theme in Finding Heaven Here.
Then, as I started to age, I sensed that growing older continues this same unfolding transformation of consciousness that had begun with midlife. More than that, I realized that aging itself offers the highest levels of spiritual realization if we understand and surrender to its powerful energies. The Three Secrets of Aging describes these energies as initiation, transformation and revelation and argues that they are intrinsic to natural aging. Moreover, as advances in medicine, nutrition and public health increased the average life span by nearly thirty years, we are now witnessing the unfolding of an entirely new stage of life.
Hoping to make this vision of aging more accessible (and more fun), I wrote Bedtime Stories for Elders: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us About the New Aging. Drawing on ten old and new fairy tales from around the world, I invite older folks (just like me) to discover the three secrets of aging in symbolic parables.
It should be evident by now that the vision I have been following represents the call of a profound developmental process driving the second half of life. Aging is changing me, revealing an essence I had long sensed but couldnít get at until time, loss, and love broke loose the faÁade I had created so many years ago. In aging, I return to a sacred consciousness that now welcomes me home to myself.