One August I was hiking with new friends just 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. They wanted to show me a favorite trail, a path that winds its way through summer-golden hills, past ravines of alder, oak and eucalyptus, and then straight on to the Pacific. We climbed the crest of a ridge that placed us dramatically between sky and sea, at a height even above the gulls. There we ate our picnic lunch and fell into a rambling conversation about politics, real estate values in an earthquake zone and the virtues of sauvignon blanc over chardonnay. Then I mentioned offhandedly that perhaps I viewed something or other the way I did because I was a Christian. This revelation did not strike me as a big deal. After all, they had been talking about Buddhist meditation, Sufi parables and personal spiritual rituals. My saying that the Eucharist was central to my life did not seem out of place.