Last weekend, Bob Thompson visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, close enough to our hometown of Taos that my husband Jeff and I gleefully cancelled all previous plans and drove south to meet Bob for breakfast and then to Unity Church where I wept my way through most of Bob’s sermon.

It’s not easy to say why Bob, who is so warm and funny, who speaks of God in the vividly sensual language of the medieval mystics I love, who is wickedly irreverent at the same time that he effortlessly weaves a web of holiness every time he opens his mouth, makes me cry.

I think it’s the Judas thing.

Whenever Bob speaks or writes about Jesus’ forgiveness of his ultimate betrayer, my heart fills with love and I think, this is what is so beautiful about Christianity, this unconditional love and acceptance. No other religion does it quite like Christianity. Christ makes a safe place for all hearts to take refuge and find healing.

I have a confession to make: I’m not a Christian. I love Christ, but I’m a cultural Jew with a longtime connection to the spiritual traditions of the East. Yet I make my living as a translator of the Spanish mystics, who happen to be Christians, whose wisdom teachings transcend all dogma and speak straight o the heart of the essential human longing for union with the source of all love – a yearning that has burned in me all my life. It is this work that initially brought Bob into my life and compelled him to invite me to speak at Lake Street Church four years ago, launching what has turned out to be one of the most precious friendships I have ever had.

For the most part, I do not experience it to be a problem that I have become a spokesperson for Christian mysticism when I have not accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. Rather, it feels like a wonderful, private joke God and I share.

Recently, however, the proposal for a new book on Teresa of Avila that I was very excited about writing was turned down by a publisher I was certain was going to buy it. At first, I was devastated. But once the initial sting passed, I began to muse on the possibility that it’s time to expand beyond the cozy cave of my Spanish mystics and incorporate the wisdom teachings of all spiritual traditions in my work. After all, I teach world religions at the university and have made it my mission to share what is most beautiful – and universal – at the heart of all faiths.

We’ll see. My reputation as a scholar of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross may have painted me into a professional corner from which I cannot escape. Maybe no one wants to hear Mirabai Starr’s reflections on cultivating a contemplative life, independent of famous long-dead monks. But I am beginning to suspect that this latest rejection is the blessing I’ve needed to launch me into the uncharted regions of my own voice, a voice that is passionate about conveying the perennial wisdom found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in Hinduism and Buddhism, and in the indigenous religions of the earth. I think I may be willing to leap off that cliff, now.

Which brings me back to my voluptuous friend, Bob Thomson. Bob is a Christian who throws open the doors of the heart and invites everyone in. I can see that he learned this wild behavior from his friend, Jesus Christ. In Bob’s hands, the Word of God is juicy and delicious, tender and consoling, vastly mysterious and utterly accessible. It is Bob who has encouraged me to let go of the hands of the Christian saints and step into my own truth, a truth that embraces all the ways there are to love the One God.

I may not speak on this blog for a while. I will be busy free-falling.