Rochester, NY

4:24 PM

I just got back to my office after conducting the first interview for my new book. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve sat down with someone and had my ears as wide open as I can make them.

The meeting took place at Nazareth College with Dr. Muhammad Shafiq. He runs the Interfaith Studies area and is also a local Imam. Prior to a few weeks ago, I didn’t know the word interfaith. Now I see it as a growing word, idea and way of life. I’m not sure how textbook this is, but I gather interfaith to mean trying to learn and understand other religions. I think it also is dialoguing with people about their religions. So I guess I am on an interfaith journey.

There are always questions in your mind when you do something out of the norm. I think deciding to spend a year learning about different religions and how people chose their religions is not the most traditional thing. Therefore I’ve been grappling with a lot of should I’s and what if’s over the last few months.

But after sitting with Dr. Shafiq, I know I’m on the right path. The smile that was (and is) on my face. The energy in me as I asked and listened. The way things seem to come together when you feel like flow mode is abound. It’s there. Now is the time.

One last thing. I try not to believe in coincidence, but in convergences (things happen on purpose). I parked my car in Lot R, put on my winter hat and gloves and then grabbed my computer bag. The car door shut and I looked up at the mammoth building in front me. But I was no longer the Seeker I am today, I was ten years old. I was in a familiar place. It was summer and my family was there to see “Auntie.” She was my great aunt who used to live in the mammoth building. She was a nun, part of the order of Sisters of Saint Joseph. This used to be their building and infirmary where the sisters lived. Auntie passed away quite a while ago.

My younger sister and I had probably been fighting in the car. Or maybe I sat in front and my mom in back to avoid our infighting. But this was the parking lot we parked when it was Auntie time. There was less grass now, this is where we used to run around and play, but it was the same spot. I pictured Auntie and her hobbit. Her genuine smile. Her osteoporosis. Her quirkiness that I can’t explain in a paragraph or two. The smells of the building – a mix of a church, hospital and kitchen. I saw my parents and my sister and myself (even the blonde hair with the bowl cut – oh the days with hair haha) sitting with Auntie.

My cell phone buzzed with an inconsequential text message and I was back in the now. I was walking up the sidewalk to the center of the building. The sign above the huge doors said Golisano Academic Center (that sign wasn’t there when Auntie was). I opened the door and now flashed to 2006. This is the same door I walked through to be in my sister and now brother in law’s wedding. They were married in Auntie’s building, at the Linehan Chapel. The chapel doors greeted me as I entered the building. My mind ran through the scrapbook of all of the different family and friends that were there (and who are rarely in the same place). The reddish hue of the bridesmaids dresses. My nieces. Helping my dad with his boutonniere. Doing a reading as part of the ceremony. So many images and memories.

As I set my computer bag down at a table just outside the chapel, I couldn’t help but smile. I knew I was going to Nazareth, but I didn’t know I was going to see Dr. Shafiq in Auntie’s building and where my sister got married. It gave me a weird feeling down my neck and back, a feeling of energy. And peace. A new journey brings a lot of unknown and nerves, but this familiar spot made me calm. And feel purpose.

I took the stairs up to the third floor for my meeting. On the Spiritual Road was officially underway. Call it coincidence, call it convergence, call it whatever, but it’s go time.

Auntie, I’m not sure what your nun training and work would think of this journey I’m on, but I felt nothing but positivity in your building. And that was how you lived – ever positive and upbeat. If you don’t mind, stay with me for a while…