Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

A few weeks ago I drove up the coast to the Coal Oil Point Reserve, a sublime area, lush with sea life and birds, on the edge of the UCSB campus. The reason for the trip was to meet a dear friend—a spiritual companion, a guide, a mentor, though she is 15 years my junior.

Part of the University of California Natural Reserve System, and one of the premiere coastal-strand environments in Southern California, the area comprises a mixture of dune vegetation and rare wildlife. The protection of these natural habitats aims to support research, education, outreach, and stewardship.  

My friend and I stood on the bluffs overlooking the water and marveled at the ocean, the incoming waves so smooth their surface had the sheen of syrup. We took our picnic lunch down by the pond (technically Devereux Slough, a seasonally flooded tidal lagoon), spread out a blanket and feasted.

A snowy egret, perched on slender branch, fixed us with an impassive stare. We spotted a Black-Bellied Plover and a Northern Flicker. The Reserve is part of Audubon’s Important Bird Area (IBA), and boasts, among other species, pelicans loons, teal, osprey, larks, grebes.  

But mostly we talked: about our families, our hearts, the state of the world. A good spiritual companion doesn’t invite you to condemn the world. A good spiritual companion makes your heart burn within you to offer yourself to the world, in whatever way has been given.



  1. Ron Lewberg says: Reply

    Your writings were for me some of the highlights of 2020 as I’m sure 2021 will be as well. May thanks. Happy New Year Heather.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Happy New Year, Ron! I’m very grateful for your readership…on we go…

  2. Heather, I never, never, reply or comment to on-line postings, or anything I read on the internet, or any other reading I do, but after having touched the comments button on my computer about 10 times; about the same number of times I’ve read this particular post, I find I must comment and ask you to please continue writing and and sharing your thoughts an experiences on your website. I’ve been following you off and on for a number of years and have read a number of your books and articles, and each time I check in, I find something interesting and insightful.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Angie, thank you so much for checking in…for letting me know that my work has mattered to you…when the sheep are separated from the goats, my writing, the sharing of my thoughts and experiences—paltry as this seems–will really be the only account I’ll be able to give of myself. This is my form of offering a drop of water to the person who is thirsty, of visiting the prisoner, tending the sick, clothing the naked…It’s not the only thing I do but writing, and all it entails, by far uses up the most of me. So it is incredibly heartening and helpful to hear from a person like you once in a while. Again, many thanks and all the best on your own pilgrimage and work…