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The following is a partial list of my literary influences and inspirations.

Title Author
A Course in Miracles Foundation for Inner Peace
A History of God Karen Anderson
A Portrait of Jesus Joseph F. Girzone
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
A Return to Love Marianne Williamson
By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept
Conversations with God
Paulo Coelho
Neale Donald Walsch
How to Know God
How to Practice
Deepak Chopra
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Marianne Williamson
Dr. Wayne Dyer
Living Buddha, Living Christ Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace is the Way
Stranger in a Strange Land
Deepak Chopra
Robert Heinlein
Tao Te Ching
The Alchemist
Lao Tzu
Paulo Coelho
The Battle for God Karen Anderson
The Celestine Prophesy James Redfield
The Direct Path Andrew Harvey
The Gospel of Thomas Ron Miller
The Holy Bible
The Path to Love Deepak Chopra
The Pilgramage
The Power of Intention
Paulo Coelho
Dr. Wayne Dyer
The Secret Teachings of Jesus Translated by Marvin W. Meyer
Wellsprings Anthony De Mello

The two poems by Robert Louis Stevenson are an important part of the book and story.  Indeed, you can say that they form not just the bookends for the story, but also contain much of the story within their verse.

The poems are actually a small tribute to my mother.  One of my earliest memories is her reading to me from A Child’s Garden of Verses, published in 1885.  The book was always on my bookshelf until I got too cool as a teenager to have kids stuff.

Thanks, Mom.  I’m sure that you never dreamed that a poem from this early book in my life would provide inspiration nearly half a century later.


Come, My Beloved, Hear From Me
COME, my beloved, hear from me
Tales of the woods or open sea.
Let our aspiring fancy rise
A wren’s flight higher toward the skies;
Or far from cities, brown and bare,
Play at the least in open air.
In all the tales men hear us tell
Still let the unfathomed ocean swell,
Or shallower forest sound abroad
Below the lonely stars of God;
In all, let something still be done,
Still in a corner shine the sun,
Slim-ankled maids be fleet of foot,
Nor man disown the rural flute.
Still let the hero from the start
In honest sweat and beats of heart
Push on along the untrodden road
For some inviolate abode.
Still, O beloved, let me hear
The great bell beating far and near-
The odd, unknown, enchanted gong
That on the road hales men along,
That from the mountain calls afar,
That lures a vessel from a star,
And with a still, aerial sound
Makes all the earth enchanted ground.
Love, and the love of life and act
Dance, live and sing through all our furrowed tract;
Till the great God enamoured gives
To him who reads, to him who lives,
That rare and fair romantic strain
That whoso hears must hear again. 

Robert Louis Stevenson

I Know Not How It is With You

I know not how it is with you —
I love the first and last,
The whole field of the present view,
The whole flow of the past.

One tittle of the things that are,
Nor you should change nor I —
One pebble in our path — one star
In all our heaven of sky.

Our lives, and every day and hour,
One symphony appear:
One road, one garden — every flower
And every bramble dear.

Robert Louis Stevenson

This post will give you a deeper look at what (I think) the story is all about.

At the top level, the story is a means for me to share my spiritual views.  Sharing this part of me is very difficult, but I’ll give it my best.  This is not intended to some kind of manifesto, just my attempt to put some structure around my thoughts about God.  This post is just an overview; more to follow later.

The main themes of the story are faith, love, and forgiveness.  These are the “confessions” that Mason has the opportunity to share with those affected and signify his growth in these areas.

Many of the discussion points or topics that Mason and Ashrael discuss are not new to this story or unique, but are my interpretations of learnings to date.  We are all affected by our inputs: ideas (our own & others), other pieces of literature either fiction or non-fiction.  How many different authors have you been influenced by?  How about something like John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany where the key theme is someone as a tool in the Hand of God?  Give that one some thought if you believe that God has influence on our lives.  Click here for a list of my favorite inspirations.

I’ve had many sources of influence through my life, including a traditional upbringing in Western Christianity.  For the last 15 years, my own path has been heavily influenced by A Course in Miracles.  Those who are familiar with ACIM will recognize the foundational themes that resonate throughout my story.

My wife and children were raised in the Catholic Church.  Over the last 20 plus years I’ve read and studied a wide variety of  writings ranging from the traditional monotheistic religions through many New Age authors in search of that common thread that I believe runs through all expressions of spirituality.

Did God stop talking to us 2000 years ago?  I think not.  I believe that He talks to us all of the time.  We only need to quiet the babblings of our ego mind and listen.

I’ve certainly been influenced heavily by Eastern thought: Buddhism, the Tao, Zen are all very appealing to me because of the emphasis on clarity of thought and a view of the world that looks on all with lovingkindness.  Read some of the Dali Lama’s writings or of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and you will understand that God works through all of us.

Simply put, I believe that God has asked me to understand His relationship with all of His creations.  This is put forth during a conversation between Mason and Ashrael.  Equally as important is to understand that I don’t belive that my views are any better than anyone else’s.  That is critical to understanding my perspective of this world.

It is a different way, not a better way.

This sums it it up succinctly.  It’s my path; it may or may not be yours.  I believe that each of us has a unique path back to God.  For some, it is full involvement with a church or a specific religion.  For others, it is not.  As Ashrael tells Mason: “it matters not”.

My opinion, be it ever so humble, is that God loves us all equally and unconditionally, a viewpoint that many people cannot accept.  This too is brought out in the story.  I find it unfathonable that God favors one religion or race of people. 

If you take a step back and try to look at what is going on in the world from a spiritual perspective, I see several big picture themes:

1.  There is a war going on between the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  This war is being played out in the Middle East on a daily basis and shows no sign of doing anything other than spiraling out of control.  I’ll have more to say on this later.  If you’d like to get a deep understanding of the origins of this war, read The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong.  Not an easy read, but an incredible book.

2.  I believe that a global spiritual transformation is underway that will change the world forever.  We are on the verge of changing the way that we interact with God, with each other and with ourselves.  Key to this is a critical mass of people who no longer believe that a religion or a church or a nation or a race or any other arbitrary means of dividing some of God’s Children from others is a valid way to look upon the world.  I’ll also have more to say on this later.  I only hope and pray for our sake, and for the sake of our children, that we don’t get to this point only because the players in the war mentioned above start chunking nuclear bombs at each other.  That, my friends, would be the ultimate blasphemy.

One last thing…I could be wrong.


The writing of the story was an amazing time in my life. 

During the summer and fall of 2003 I had been working with my good friend Steve vonPhul to help him with his new company, D-Foam Inc.         Due to some unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, I had a lot more free time than I ever anticipated. 

So I decided to write.

Making that conscious decision seemed to open up a door inside of my mind.  Very shortly thereafter, while sitting quietly, the name of the story came to me.  It has not changed since that moment.

At the risk of sounding corny, much of this story was given to me; by whom, I am not sure yet.   There were times when the words just spilled out as fast as I could type them.  At the end of a section or scene or chapter I often would sit quietly and wait for the next one to come.  Sometimes it would come quickly, other times it would be several days or a week.  This type of creativity has been described by many people throughout the ages and I would have been skeptical if it hadn’t happened to me.  Those times were exhilarating and a little bit scary because there was an element of not really being in control.  In other times the story was just grinded out;  those parts were the engineer in me coming through.

The main body of the story was written over the course of about five months.  I made some inquiries to a handful of literary agents to test the waters, but received only polite no-thank-you’s.  The story then sat on a shelf for several years, getting only some minor edits on scenes that I didn’t like.  Every once in a while I would pick it up and read it cover to cover, trying to look at it with a fresh outlook, trying to see if it was a good, well written story or an amaturish attempt at literary glory.  Finally, in the fall of 2006, I made a substantial rewrite on one of the early chapters to reduce some of the jumping around in time problem that I had identified earlier and called it done.

I suppose that later in life I’ll figure out why this story now.  While I clearly had some emotional baggage from my days and nights working at the Major Confectionary Manufacturer here in Waco, there is more to it than that.  I truly believe that each of us has a story to tell, but we are culturally conditioned to believe that we’re not good enough, or that people will laugh at our work or somehow judge us inferior.

Don’t believe the naysayings of your ego; tell your story, even if it is only for you.  Your angel is standing behind you, a smile on their face, joy in their heart.

Tell your story.

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