“It was such an extraordinary blessing to be in the physical presence of our beloved community of magickal peers again,” said Gwendolyn Reece, president of the Sacred Space Foundation. “I know we all felt that,”

According to The Washington Post, Reece and the Sacred Space Foundation hosted a pagan conference in early April in Hunt Valley, Maryland. It was the first gathering since the pandemic started, and it had a reunion quality. The event welcomed more than double its pre-pandemic attendance, and the organizers felt as though it was a huge success.

The gatherings of all religious groups were impacted by the pandemic, including pagans. Now, after struggling through cancellations, lockdowns and low attendance, these pagan events are back and are, according to organizers, “bigger than ever.”

“There was some critically important magick done during this conference,” Reece added. Such group rituals had not been performed since 2019, the last year Sacred Space was held. The first wave of the coronavirus canceled the gathering in 2020, and then the events for 2021 and 2020 were scrubbed because of waves of new virus variants.

“I am grateful that we have such a strong-hearted, dynamic, spiritually courageous magickal community,” said Reece.

When a pagan meets a pastor

In my novel Windows of the Heavens, a pagan named Kelly Westbrook talks with a Methodist pastor named Harley Camden in the small river town of Occoquan, Virginia. Both are looking for new life.

She stops by his church office after attending one of his services, and he is happy to see her. “Let me get my coat,” he says. “I could use some fresh air.”

The two of them walk down the wooden stairs and across the church parking lot. The clouds are heavier than they were at the start of the day, and rain is clearly coming. “We better not walk too far,” says Kelly, “or we’ll get wet.”

“How about a quick walk to the park and back?”

“Sounds good,” she says.

“I enjoyed our lunch,” says Harley, as they turned left on Mill Street and walked west.

“Me too,” she nods. “And your church service. It felt . . . okay.”

“I’m glad,” says Harley. “You are welcome any time.”

“It wasn’t easy for me to be there,” she admits, looking straight ahead, “but some good things happened. I want to learn more.”

Harley knows he has to choose his words carefully. “Jesus is the key, as far as I am concerned,” he says. “He brings power. And peace.”

“I think I need that,” Kelly says, turning to Harley. “I don’t have it inside myself.”

“You can ask for it,” he says. “Put your trust in him, and he will help you. Jesus promises that he will do whatever you ask in his name.”

“Anything?” asks Kelly.

“Well, anything in line with God,” says Harley. “Anything that can help your faith, your life, your salvation.”

“Salvation?” asks Kelly. “That’s a word I never liked. Too judgmental.”

“I know,” says Harley. “Some people use it that way. But salvation is basically being saved—saved from anything that can hurt or destroy you.”

“I always thought it meant going to heaven instead of hell,” Kelly says.

“Well, yes,” says Harley. “But we need to be saved in this life as well.”

Way, truth, life

Kelly ponders this as they walk along Mill Street, approaching town hall. Then she says, “How do I ask for help?”

“Check this out,” says Harley, motioning her to a park bench in front of the hall. They take a seat and Harley pulls out his smartphone. After doing a quick search, he says, “You can pray these words. They come from a hymn.”

Kelly looks at the screen and reads out loud:

Come, my way, my truth, my life:

Such a way, as gives us breath;

Such a truth, as ends all strife;

Such a life, as conquers death.

For a few moments, she looks at the screen in silence. Then Harley says, “It’s a prayer to Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.”

“Come, my way, my truth, my life,” says Kelly, quoting the hymn.

“Jesus is the way,” says Harley, “the way that gives us breath.”

“Find your breath,” says Kelly, repeating her own fitness instructions.

“Jesus is the truth.”

“The truth,” nods Kelly.

“And the life,” says Harley. “The life that conquers death.”

“Salvation,” says Kelly.

“Not original to me,” says Harley. “Like I said, it’s a hymn. But I do believe it.”

“I’ll give it a try,” says Kelly. “Will you send me the link?”

“Sure,” says Harley, tapping the screen of his smartphone.

“You know,” says Kelly, “I’m still not sure about your religion, but I like what you are saying about Jesus. Way, truth, life.”

“He’s a window,” says Harley. “A window on heaven. Also, a window on the world. I see him as the balance—God in human form, Creator in creation.”

Kelly sits in silence for a moment, looking straight ahead, then turns to Harley and says, “I’m open.”