I took a deep breath. I could feel the tension leaving my body. "Really?"

"Yes, of course," she said, and as if she were repeating instructions from the spirits, she said,

"Here is what you must do. You must go home and write down 100 qualities you would like this person with whom you will share your life to have."

I felt almost giddy. "A hundred? Wouldn't I be lucky if I got 10?"

"Oh no, my dear," she said. "You must describe the person down to the color of the socks!"

I wanted to laugh. Color of the socks?

"You will make your list, and then you will put the list away for safekeeping. What you are doing is making clear for yourself exactly the person who will be right for you, and then you will be directing the request into the universe to send that person to you. Do you understand?"

I nodded. But I didn't understand at all. The idea that somewhere in the universe was a person just right for me—someone who would respond to all the things that were important to me and with whom I could share my life—seemed impossible. Yet in spite of the painful experiences of the past, I had always lived my life as if all things were possible. Why wouldn't I try making the list?

At home I climbed into my four-poster bed with a yellow legal pad. I was amazed by how easy it was to write the list. I began with the definitive idea that he must be "at peace with himself." Then I listed everything, from good family relationships to intelligence and a sense of humor, to sex, religion, money, music, books, gardening, sailing, dancing, fishing, and on and on—down to dark gray socks.

Satisfied that I had done my part, I put the list in the back of my closet.

After about 15 minutes of waiting for Aubrey's answer, he walked into my room with the list in his hand. He had tears in his soft blue eyes. We looked at each other for several seconds before he spoke.

"I missed two," he said, holding up the list. Then, smiling, he added, "There are many things you have on this list that are true about me that you could not possibly know."

I wanted to laugh out loud. Instead I jumped up and threw my arms around him. I felt jubilant. Whatever doubts I harbored that he might have missed many more than two, I knew that the point was that he thought he missed only two. I had given my list to the universe and the universe had sent me Aubrey.

Addendum: Aubrey and I were married in February of the following year, the beginning of a gloriously happy and trusting time in my life. Of the two qualities on the list he thought he missed—"loves to dance" and "loves to sail"—neither was important. His interests in gardening and architecture, previously unknown to me, led us to build a house and garden in Maine that surpassed either of our dreams. Some of the more intangible qualities on the list provided even greater surprises. We shared 11 wonderful years before he died of lung cancer, many more joyful years than I had ever imagined possible. What happened was beyond all reason. I can only marvel at the mysterious and beneficent universe that brought us together.

Martha Beck explains why Alice's list worked—and what you need to know before you submit your wish list to the universe.