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CBN.com This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the so-called “summer of love.”
The explosion of the hippie culture brought about a change in America’s youth that is still being felt today. It defined politics, sexual mores and a newfound sense of freedom. But, the hippie quest for personal wholeness was missing two elements: true love and true peace.
“I thought that they had what I was looking for,” says Kathy Gilbert. “Their philosophy was so attractive. Their behavior was so attractive. They were so different and there was something that resonated in me that went ‘I think they’re very cool, and I want to be just like them.’”
In one day, Kathy went from high school graduation to a hippie commune.
“I was looking for life,” she remembers. “I was looking for meaning. I was looking for purpose. As I became more entrenched in the hippie lifestyle, I was looking to be clean and to be whole, and I was promised that.”
Kathy tried various religions to find her purpose. “I thought, ‘If I eat these special ways and I do these special religious practices, it will make me clean and whole,’” she says. “And it did not do that.”
Kathy continued to travel in search of self-fulfillment. She made it to Woodstock and hung out with hippies associated with Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters.
“And I thought that they of all people, of all hippies, must have arrived,” she says. “But they hadn’t either, because the promise of peace and love was not there. They were not full of peace and they were not full of love.”
Kathy headed out to Oregon. When a car load of hippies stopped to pick her up, she accepted their offer to join them for dinner at their ranch.
“And I thought, ‘This is just another commune. I’ve had it. I’ve had it with the hippies, I’ve had it with the drugs, I’ve had it with the communes, I don’t want to go there.’ But it was late, I was hungry, I went,” says Kathy. “They pulled into this beautiful piece of property. It was a communal Christian ministry called Shiloh, an extension of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa’s ministry to hippies. And they were full of real peace and real love and they couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Their story was so much like mine because they had all been on a quest, they all had looked and looked and tried everything. And then they found out it was Jesus Christ.”
Kathy says that she was especially challenged by a young mother-to-be.
“She shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with me and His desire and ability to transform my life and that it was Him dying on the cross, rising again, that could transform me. It was He that I was looking for, I didn’t accept it, even then. I listened. It was obvious that he had transformed her. It was obvious that something had happened with all those others that had shared with me,” says Kathy.
The next morning, Kathy left. As she hitchhiked to the Oregon coast, she reflected on her experiences at Shiloh.
“And as the sun set and the stars came out, I started talking to God. And I asked Jesus that ‘If you’re real, and it’s obviously somebody has done something with these people and they said it’s You, if it’s You and You would accept me, I would like to give You my life.’ And He held me in His arms and I felt love like I had never felt. It was real. It was then as I would just weep and pray – I started then confessing my sins. I didn’t even realize that they were sins. I didn’t realize that the uncleanness that I felt and the lostness and the experimentation with all the different things, I knew I was unclean, but I didn’t realize it was sin, and he just, as I poured it out, he took it away. And He transformed me and He came in and took over. I knew it was Jesus Christ and I knew I had given myself to Him to do with me as he would wish,” says Kathy.
When she woke up the next morning, Kathy knew she was supposed to return to Shiloh.
“I was with family then,” she says. “All those people that had witnessed to me now welcomed me into the family of God and the joy that they had seeing me cause they had been praying for me. It was what I was looking for. It wasn’t just being part of the family of God, but was Jesus Christ.”
Kathy married Stephen Gilbert, who also lived at Shiloh. They started a family and settled in Costa Mesa, California. Although her life now is nothing like her hippie past, Kathy issues this challenge to other “seekers of the truth.”
“I would say, ‘search your heart,’” says Kathy. “Because there, in your heart, is that yearning. Every man, every woman has that yearning for reality and maybe you’re thinking there is no satisfaction, but it really is Jesus Christ and he is the only one that can satisfy you. He is the only one that could fulfill that longing in your heart. He’s the only one that can give you true life.”
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