Mary Coelho has spent several decades delving into the seemingly contradictory ways of understanding how the world of science and the religious can coexist and thrive.
After experiencing a mystical experience at age 29, she felt compelled to find an explanation for the experience. In fact, she had come to know experientially of a powerfully healing and attractive dimension of life not addressed in her science classes.
Although not an experience of light, it was an experience of the sacred, and thus closely related to experiences of the Inner Light. She had an inner knowledge, unacceptable as it seems rationally, that what she had experience was, in some way, an answer to humanity’s problems.
This was the genesis of the “New Story” that Mary Coelho tells about through her experience growing up as a Quaker in rural New Jersey, her educational experience in biology, chemistry and physics, and then in seminary school as a PhD candidate.
It has been expressed through her writing and her work as a watercolorist. In this interview, she tells about her life’s journey and talks about the evidence from many other religious traditions and from the new physics that reveals a creative, numinous, nonvisible realm suffusing the material universe: that which Brian Swimme calls “the All-Nourishing Abyss.”
The following is part of a Quaker Universalist Fellowship service of providing in-depth interviews with Quakers on fundamental themes of our lives, our tradition and our practice. Once the transcript of this interview is complete, we will post it in addition to the Youtube video.
When the Presence breaks through into our lives, how do we understand it, when in the West we are caught between often seemingly contradictory ways of understanding the world offered by science and by religious tradition?
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