Silicon Valley resident Marjorie Veil has been conditioned to ignore her own truth, to give way her power, to subjugate in relationships with others, and to settle for the path of least resistance. But she has many surprises in store, for there are synchronistic forces at work in her life that, if she listens, will lead her to her authentic heart and happiness. The seemingly impossible happens in the wild of the Los Padres National Forest where Marjorie goes on retreat to make sense of her life when she thinks she has gone insane. The innocence of the Native American orphan Marjorie befriends, as well as more mystery and adventure than she bargained for, show her how love can heal in what turns out to be a transformative spiritual quest.
Like the fires that blaze through the Los Padres National Forest, the mysterious voice in Marjorie Veil’s head burns the frameworks that imprison her—her limiting beliefs, her old patterns of thought—transforming them into blackened snags, a perfect habitat for the seeds of awareness buried deep inside her to burst into life.
Leave it to Cliff to insist that we take a romantic day trip to Carmel on Ash Wednesday. I could have said no, of course. I could have suggested that we turn the car around and do this some other day. It’s just that…well, it had been so long since he’d asked. And it wasn’t as if I would have been in church anyway. Five years ago, yes, I probably would have had ashes on my forehead by now, in the shape of a cross, a reminder of my earthy beginnings, of my dusty heart, of repentance—of death.
Marjorie Veil is running again. But this time, she’s not running from herself. She’s running to embrace her past so she may move on with her future. A future that includes a man and an orphaned boy who both love her. But in order to build a life with them, she must have the strength to defy the expectations of her over-protective adoptive mother, and she must be steadfast in deciphering the veiled messages coming from the Native American woman who died giving her birth. Marjorie’s quest is the story of the soul trying to break free of its conditioned restraints to live a life of freedom, courage, and authenticity, and focus on what is really important in her precious present moments.
As the bay breeze whispered across the barren hills of Bayfront Park, the first day of summer dawned on the horizon, darkness deferring to light. The city of Menlo Park lay only two miles west, yet this land, surrounded by salt ponds, salt marshes, and sloughs, had the feel of another planet, on which we were all alone.
It was a trick of the light. It had to be. The house seemed to glow, the whiteness of its shingled surface blinding. I raised my hand to shield my eyes and stepped closer. The loamy earth sank beneath my feet. Twigs snapped. Crows cawed. It was like a scene straight out of my dreams, the kind that had me burrowing beneath the covers and wishing I’d never wake up. I paused under a massive oak and tore my gaze from the three-storied Victorian just long enough to look up and notice the beards of Spanish moss dangling from the tree’s branches.
Medicate or nurture; reform or set free? These are quandaries rookie teacher Marjorie Veil faces when she takes on an after-school class for thirteen-year-olds labeled as troublemakers, unteachable, and hopeless. Faculty skeptics warn that all these kids need is prescribed medication for focus and impulse control. “Bring them into line,” they say. “Show them who’s boss.” But, as Marjorie quickly discovers, behind their anti-conformist exteriors are gifted teens that are sensitive, empathetic, and wise beyond their youth. They also happen to have unique psychic abilities, which they have kept hidden until now. Can Marjorie help her students do what she has been unable to do for herself: fight for their spiritual and emotional freedom?
“We’ve got a new sub!”
The short kid with the tall voice bounded into the classroom with the exuberance of a kindergartener rather than the more guarded, image-conscious demeanor of a thirteen-year-old. His backpack hit his desk with an attitude. “Our last sub quit.”
It was hard to tell if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud because he hardly glanced my way, too busy twitching and wiggling like a terrier pup.
“What’s your name?” the kid called out, not bothering to check the white board, which displayed my name in large block letters: MS. VEIL.
I pointed to it now, determined to keep an eye on the rest of the students filtering into the room—my chance to observe them before their guards went up. Nothing soft or preppy about these kids. Instead of the blues and pinks their parents dressed them in not all that long ago, the predominant colors were now black and brown, the texture torn and frayed, accessorized by hoops and chains hanging from the most unlikely places. But their appearance, I knew, was deceiving. West Coast Middle School draws students from the millionaires’ enclave of Atherton and the district of Sharon Heights, which happens to include mansions set around the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club. The spending per pupil here is nearly double the national average. Their outfits flashed cash. Not bargain basement.