Several years ago I gave myself the gift of a detox retreat at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego, California. This is a place where you can give your digestive process a break using a cleansing diet along with freshly juiced wheat grass. During my stay there were about one hundred other participants and, as you can imagine, some significant conversations unfolded as we took our minds off our stomachs and started exercising other aspects of our beings.
On one occasion I sat on the lawn with the soft winter sun gently warming me, and had a pleasant exchange with Len Wechsler, a tall, lean man whose deep brown eyes and impish smile told me that the little boy was alive and well within. A spontaneous storytelling moment emerged as we challenged one another to share interesting stories about our lives.
Len offered a memory of Harvey Goldberg, a gifted professor he had the privilege of meeting during his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Len’s eyes welled up with tears as if forty years had not passed since he was enrolled in Professor Goldberg’s class, The History of Contemporary Revolutions, which examined uprisings that took place during the twentieth century in Iran, Poland, Japan, France, and many other countries. My friend told of how his teacher stood at the lectern each day and taught without the aid of notes. That semester the course was so popular that it was moved three times to ever larger lecture halls—and still the class had standing room only.
Len described for me the final lecture of the course. “Goldberg taught up to the last minute of the last day, teaching right up to the bell. He says, ‘Well, we are done.’ He turned his back to the students as if to close the class. Then turning back towards the shining young faces he said, ‘You want me to tell you what it is all about? You want to know? I’m going to tell you.’ All of us are on the edge of our seats, holding our breath, knowing that in a moment the secret of it all would be revealed. He says, ‘Everything we’ve done this semester, the courses you have taken are good, but none of that matters.’ He waits, and it feels like he looks each one of us in the eye. Then the old man says, ‘Love—that’s what it is all about.’ With that he left the room. Everyone was crying.”
Professor Goldberg was right. Love is the way in and love is the way out. Love is the path, the process, the key.
May your life be filled with love.
—Justine Willis Toms