"The word spirituality has been suspect for some time, conjuring images of the fervid and the unctuous, people who could benefit from a substantial amount of roughage in their diets. Those with apparently no real life to live, spending their energies cashing in their coupons for harps on clouds, streets of gold up yonder, and all that.

"This spirituality, however, is not about a lottery ticket to the next life, but a front-row-center ticket to this one. This life, with its car pools, ill-timed meetings, bleating pagers, demanding children, traffic snarls, and yammering pain-in-the-neck obligations. This life, where once in a while, just for a minute, you stop what you are doing and watch the clouds roll through the northern sky, a conveyor belt of fleece. The wind is out of the southwest, filling your lungs, and you catch a glimpse of a blue heron, gliding like a javelin across the sky. This world now on center stage, no longer peripheral to your duties and obligations. And the full weight of this moment seeps its way back into the grind of the everyday, slowing our heartbeat, giving us a gentler step and a gleam in the eye.

"Late in her life, May Sarton was questioned about what she wanted to be when she 'grew up.' She replied, 'To be human.'

"Not bad.

"To be human is about regaining what has been lost in the shuffle when life has been relegated to keeping score and making waves. To be human is about cultivating the good life. To be human is about gardening the soul.

"You can count me in if it means cultivating a place where I am attentive, present, and grounded. It's just that twenty years of relentless pursuit of the good life delivered by a lottery-driven culture had rendered my perspective noticeably one-dimensional — what's the payoff? — as if consumption equals life at its finest.

"Now, my questions have begun to change: Are there butterflies in your garden? Are there dandelions in your lawn? And when was the last time your house smelled of paper-white narcissus?

"Do sunsets make you smile? Have you ever seen a sunflower bloom? At what angle does the sun enter your house? And when do your irises blossom? Are you comforted by the sound of the rain on your roof? And have you ever watched the hummingbirds dance?

"I love to watch the hummingbirds dance.

"And I love spring nights here. The days arc already longer, the skies backlit until past nine. The backlighting gives the horizon its density. Off to the north sits Blake Island, home to nothing but cedar and hemlock and fir and a couple of eagles. In the dusk light, the island puts on a thickness as if the deep colors anchor it to the earth.

"I love that my two-year-old son likes to put on his dancing shoes. The music doesn't matter. He's not picky. He just loves to dance. Like the hummingbirds.

"I love to stretch out on a garden bench on a warm summer day. I love a hot shower and drying with an expensive oversized cotton towel.

"I treasure the certainty that grace gives us all many second chances.

"And I love to lose track of time in my garden."