All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.

--St. Francis of Assisi

The Birth of Finding Grace

     I’ve always been on a quest—looking for the answers to life’s big questions. It led me to study and work in the fields of psychology, mindfulness, and spirituality from the time I was a teenager. I’ve held a private psychotherapy practice in Tampa Florida since 1985, working with children and adults. My husband and I have been married for over thirty years. Together, we raised two sons who are now developing lives and families of their own. I recognize that my life is blessed with many gifts, but it was suffering that impelled me to become a serious seeker. It was grief that led me to grace.

     I have frequently sought comfort through poetry, dreams, and stories because they speak the intuitive language of the soul. They create images and emotions that seep in and fill up cracks and fissures we didn’t even know existed, warming the heart, sparking our thought process, and revitalizing the spirit. So it was for me with the seeding of this novel in the summer of 2010. Our eldest son had just completed his graduate studies in May and had begun to make plans to move west. Our younger son was set to graduate in December of that same year, and we sensed he would move away, too. In July, I had a life-changing dream:

 

     I found a bee in my house and worried it would die, so I opened the glass door and stepped outside to let it out. I looked up at the sky, which was blue with both wispy and billowy clouds. I commented on the beauty to my husband, Carl, who stood behind me. Our sons relaxed on the dock by our lake. A very large white bird flew above us. I pointed it out to everyone, thinking it was a dove of some kind. It flew down to me and landed on my chest as I fell back onto the soft grass. It was so large that when I wrapped my arms around its’ body, my hands couldn’t touch on the other side. The bird rested its head on my shoulder, where I saw its pale orange beak and thick neck. I asked for help, but everyone seemed frozen in awe. I released my fear and allowed myself to witness this remarkable event. Then I experienced kundalini energy rush through my body as if the Holy Spirit had entered me. I became aware that the dove needed my help or it might die, so I breathed on its back and into its beak. It began to move with my breath as if I had given it new life. Then it lifted up and flew, soaring high into the air. I lay there and watched in amazement, aware that I’d been visited by something beyond this world and that I’d played a part in releasing it to new life.

 

     As I awoke, I knew that I would be asked to participate in a spiritual process to birth something new. I’ve always been aware that God needs each of us to engage in creation, but I felt a bit overwhelmed at the clarity of this dream. I sensed it had to do with writing a novel, which never stopped nudging me, but I had no idea where to begin. I simply held onto the energy and imagery of the dream, and I waited.

     By early in 2011, both of our sons were “launched” from college and had moved to Colorado. I felt deep grief in the closing of this important period of my life—My twenty-eight-year chapter of raising our sons. I wrote the following poem.

 

Deliverance, February 2011

I’d been warned.

Still I stand unsuspecting,

his car crammed,

roof rack packed

with snowboard and surfboard

as if to glide sleek

surfaces on his nest-exit west.

He was mine once.

Now he gazes at me

from his towering frame

aware he owns himself.

 

Tectonic plates within the earth

shift, a tsunami hits

water floods the serene pasture.

A stallion stands alone, aware of some impending threat.

I know what must be done

yet that bridle was buckled so long ago,

no easy task to release.

 

Fingers work—his nostrils flair

eyes stare, dart back and forth,

a tear.

Finally unfettered, the harness slips

easily over his sweaty head.

I race to the heavy gate, lift the latch,

heave open the squealing iron enclosure,

pat his brawny back,

and witness him streak into his new life

and realize I’m stumbling headlong into my own.

 

     The last line of the poem surprised me even as I wrote it, making me keenly aware of the new seed within me, germinating and awaiting realization. I still held the dream, the image of a novel, and the same questions—What would I write? How would I accomplish this major task?

     Almost exactly a year later, on a dark February morning in 2012, I drove to work, and an idea lit up my mind. The seed had sprouted, and I knew it had the potential to be a good story. I wasn’t aware of the details of the tale, only the critical start that would awaken the protagonist to her painful predicament. I was aware of some of her trials that would connect the reader to a view of our shared human suffering, and the resolution, which would be a window into grace. I had no faith that I could write the story since I’d never attempted such a feat. I only had a personal experience that if I followed the process, one baby step at a time, it would take me somewhere, even if it only mattered to me. Step-by-step, the book was written.

     I still don’t know if Finding Grace will be of interest to a wider audience. Throughout the process, I worked closely with my story consultant, Len Leatherwood, who never stopped reminding me that I had a worthy story to tell. I have had several Beta readers, including my copy-editor, Robin Stonaker, who believed in the tale from the start and was ever encouraging.

     I have included the Prologue and Chapter One for you to read, along with some reviews. With that meager endorsement, I invite you to go to the BUY THE BOOK page and click on the link that will take you to the site to purchase a digital or paperback copy.

     After you’ve read it, let me know what you think and how it touches you. I’ll do my best to answer questions and respond as quickly as I can. My hope is that you find my novel entertaining. If it quenches a thirst, soothes an ache, provokes reflection, or helps you discover the places where grace resides in your life, then that is all the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© 2014 by Patricia Dunn-Fierstein