Forty-five years ago today (September 7, 1974) I woke up alone in my little apartment. I dressed and packed a weekend getaway bag. My friend came by and picked me up. We drove from downtown Los Angeles up into the San Bernardino mountains to Cedar Lake, near Big Bear. She was on the committee organizing this retreat for new ministerial students at the Ernest Holmes College of the United Church of Religious Science. I had wanted to be in this place, at this time, for my whole life. I couldn’t remember when I didn’t want to be a minister. Everything had led me to this moment! What I did not anticipate was what happened next! An exotic little sports car, a bright blue Lotus Europa pulled up with a gentle roar and parked. Out of it emerged the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen! He was tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, mischievous and simply marvelous in every respect! He had kind eyes and strong hands, a warm smile and pleasant voice. A carved pipe was clutched in his teeth and rested on his prominent chin. A subtle and sweet scent came from the cold pipe. He spotted me and asked brightly: “Do you know where I can get a cup of coffee?” I did! That was the day I met Gil Linsley!
During the events planned for the new students, he and I seemed to gravitate together. When they asked us to form dyads to share our vision of ministry, we were partners. When they scheduled a silent vigil we wandered off together to talk and laugh and tell stories. When the sun set and we sat around the campfire, we sat next to each other. And when my candle kept going out in the wind, he lit it again and again from his own, which miraculously never went out. He talked about himself and his life. He told me the water in Cedar Lake was “trick water” which I later learned meant “smooth enough to do tricks on water skis”. He told me he lived in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and played trumpet in a big band. He mentioned the names of performers I knew and admired and said his band played for them at the casino showrooms. His experiences were far removed from my own, but we shared a passion for living and teaching the Science of Mind!
I had come to this mountain retreat to begin my life’s work, my ministry. I never dreamed that the love affair which would lead to our marriage would begin here as well! There are times in one’s life when, in retrospect, we say: “This is where everything changed; this was the defining moment! If everything hadn’t conspired together just the way it did, my whole life would have been different!” I feel incredibly grateful for the exquisite alignment of consciousness and events in both of our lives that brought us to a tiny lake in the middle of a forest where we could discover one another and fall in love and begin the adventure of a lifetime!
I love how you and Gil seemed to just fit together from the start. Meant to be! I’m glad you got almost 45 years together. That’s a good run!
What a wonderful memory. You express yourself so well. Thank you for sharing it.
Love you, Merrilee
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