Monday, April 23, 2012

I Took Jesus to Jail - Is A Course in Miracles REALLY practical?

Twenty years ago, when Marianne Williamson was so successful in Los Angeles, I went to all her lectures and did A Course in Miracles a couple of times through.  Then she went away for many years.  When she returned to L.A. just over two years ago, I started the Course Workbook again, and have attended every one of Marianne’s lectures and workshops. 

Marianne often says ACIM prides itself on being practical; so this idea of taking the spiritual principles and applying them - can A Course in Miracles work when you are arrested in a sting for prostitution?

I worked for many years in music doing graphic design, marketing and promotion.  When the music industry collapsed a few years ago, and after a couple of years of getting no work, I had to let go of my career, and did a practical inventory to determine what do next.  I now do several things: DJ-ing, graphic design, photography, handyman work, cleaning and organizing, refinishing furniture, reading exams for the disabled, massage and body grooming.  It might sound pretentious, but I realized (through ACIM) that my goal on earth is to help people (extend love), and each of these activities meets this criteria.

The other day, though, one of these part-time jobs landed me behind bars.

The moment the undercover cops threw me to the ground and handcuffed me, I began praying.  I was praying to be safe.  And, to be honest, I was praying (more like begging) to go back in time five minutes and make a different decision.  The girl who met me on the sidewalk— in front of the building where I would soon be arrested— seemed nice and I was just being polite, a common Canadian trait.  I thought she wanted a massage, she said she wanted a massage; I had absolutely no intention of having sex with her.

“Tell it to the judge.”

The quick realization that she was not who she was pretending to be, ACIM reminds me, does not mean that she is not a good, or innocent person, and I am trying hard not to judge her.  She and her team are just doing a job; luring people in under (it seems to me) flimsy and/or false pretenses, and arresting them. 

Thirty minutes later, they’re on to the next one.  They don’t know my name, I’m merely a statistic for their monthly quota.  One of the herd.  They don’t know or care what happens to me, or what effect this will have on my life. 

Thirty minutes later, I am in a holding cell downtown, handcuffed, with no money, no phone, no shoelaces and no idea what just happened.  This incident will be with me, haunt me, upset me for the rest of my life.  It will be pondered, re-told, hushed away, hidden in a box, an embarrassment.  And being from another country, I could actually be deported.  After living in L.A. for nearly 23 years, I have no place to go back to in Canada.  They may as well ship me to Mexico or Germany.  At least, in Canada I can speak the language (plus there’s socialized health care).  

Plus I am now facing a minimum of $4000 in lawyer fees, or more if it goes to trial. 

AND I’m out of one of my more lucrative jobs.

So this girl - I must see her as a beautiful innocent child of God.  I have to assume she is doing something she feels is important.  Snagging people off the streets who illegally massage other people and putting them behind bars (or deportation) “where they belong”.  I have to assume that she thinks she is doing the best for all concerned.  This is her career; no one is forcing her to do this, it must be her choice.

Marianne would say, when you can’t see it, pray:  Lord, I cannot see the innocence in this person.  I know it must be there, so I surrender my thoughts about her to You.

Lord, I can’t see the purpose in this situation, so I surrender my thoughts about this to You.  I am willing to see this differently.

I am not a victim of the world I see.  Lord, I can’t see that now, because I sure feel like a victim right now. But yes, I am willing to see this differently.  I am more than willing.  I am begging to see this differently.

In jail, I am stripped of everything but my clothes.  I have no idea what to expect.  I have never been arrested before.  I am terrified that I will be deported.  I am allowed access to a phone, but in the age of cell phones that are smarter than you, I previously had no need to and therefore can’t remember anyone’s phone number.  I have no idea how long I might be in jail.  It’s Friday night.  There is no court until Monday morning.  I will probably be here at least that long. OMFG.   

I have things planned for that evening: a quick and easy massage client, $120 in my pocket, hit the gym, and then a movie.  A good kick off to the weekend.   The next day, I have several appointments, errands and obligations.  Sunday, I am to pick my cousin Barbara at LAX.  I have no way to call her.  I have no way to even check what time she is coming.  Even if I could remember a phone number to have someone pick her up, I still would have no idea what her phone number is in Canada.  I picture her standing on the sidewalk at LAX with her luggage, calling my cell phone, no answer, no idea what is going on.  Maybe eventually taking a cab to my house, MAYBE finding a key, VERY confused and frightened in a city where she knows only one person, and no way to find me.

I am terrified that I will be deported.  What happens if they keep me until Monday morning and then put me on a bus to Winnipeg Monday afternoon?  Would I be allowed to go home and get my stuff?  What would I do about my cat?  What would happen to my possessions?  Could I somehow get everything shipped to Canada?  How much would that cost?  And my truck.  I’d left it parked on Wilshire in Koreatown, my camera, wallet, iPad, laptop, and jacket, all inside, on the seat.  If it sits there all night, would someone break into it and steal my electronics and wallet?  In the morning, when there is no parking allowed, my truck would get ticketed and towed.  Where would they tow it to?  How would I get my truck back?  My wallet is in my truck; how would I get my wallet back?

Tremendous anxiety begins to completely overwhelm me.  I wonder what would happen if I started to cry.  I haven’t cried in fifteen years.

So I think, as I often do: What would Marianne say?

The only thing I need to be saved from is my insane thinking about this, which would keep me in pain.  None of this is real.

This feels very real.  The handcuffs on my wrists feel very real.  This feels real on the mortal plane, but I know that my true Self (with a capital S) cannot be harmed here.  OK.  Breathe.  I’m not sure how reassuring that is right now.

All of this is happening in my head.  All my fears and worries are about what could possibly happen in the future.  I can’t do anything about the past.  I can’t do anything about the future. 

Right now, I am alone, locked in a small concrete room, sitting on a metal bed, with a very thin army blanket; if there were even a slight breeze in here, it would blow right through me.  There is no breeze, however.  There is a metal toilet/sink combo attached to the wall.  Nothing in here can hurt me.  And nothing outside myself can save me.  I am locked in here and cannot leave.  I have literally NO OPTIONS.  So I may as well be here in this moment, rather than worrying about what possibly could happen in the future, rather than wishing I could go back in time those five minutes and tell the girl on the sidewalk, “No, thanks, I have to get to the gym.” 

Marianne quotes Blaise Pascal, “All the problems in the world stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Okay, so here I am in a room with nothing but my thoughts.  Let’s do this.

I try to shut my mind down.  I take a deep breath.  I listen for Marianne’s voice:  I see a little ball of golden light.  I see it grow larger and larger until it covers the entire inner vision of the room.  I see the light spill out into the hallway and into the street, surrounding the building. 

There is a rectangular slot in the door and I can see men outside in the hallway, in the booking department, the policemen and other prisoners, many of whom appear to be in much worse condition than I am.  I see each of these people as innocent children of God.  I blast them with love and light.  I pray for the other prisoners, who are probably not having their best day either.  Although, who am I to know?  It is clear that in the scheme of things, within 100 feet of where I am sitting, there are others who are in much worse predicaments. 

And, they don’t have the luxury of Marianne talking to them in their heads, attempting to calm them down.

Part of my daily morning meditation— and every time I leave the house, meet a client, enter a room, or get on the freeway— is, “May I be an instrument of light to every person I see, talk to or think about.”  I surround myself in white light and protection, and a small regulation grey blanket.  In the cell I lie down and try to sleep (which proves to be impossible) and pray for God to keep me safe and to please allow me to be released soon.   

This all feels so wrong though.  Am I a criminal?  Am I a prostitute?  I had no intention of having sex with that woman.  She replied to my online ad via text; I thought she was a guy who wanted a massage.  I agreed to a massage.  Standing on Wilshire, she never mentioned the word, “massage.”  Or sex.  Confounding, vexing, unfathomable…

There are no clocks, no TV, no radio, no newspaper, no magazines, no iPad, no cell  phone - nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to look at except either the blank industrial yellow concrete wall or the inside of my eyelids.  I have no idea what time it is.  No one says anything to me.  There is a constant murmur of voices outside, but I can’t understand a word.  I decide there is nothing I can do, so there is no point in planning.  In that, there is a relative wave of freedom. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the universe wants me to be here.  That seems pretty clear, because at this point there are no options.  I must sit quietly in a room alone with my thoughts.

And I must control my thoughts, because when I let them get away, they go into fear, and I start to hyperventilate.

Hours later, there is a knock on the door and the guard says, “Get up, they are releasing you.” I sign a small blue form, which looks like nothing more than a speeding ticket, and they give me back my phone and shoelaces and car keys.  “There’s the door.”  I have no idea where I am.  I tell the lady at the door that I need to get to Wilshire and Vermont.  She says it’s too far to walk, but she waves, “it’s that way.”  I step out into the night.

It’s 4am and I’m traversing downtown.  I don’t stop to put my shoelaces back in my sneakers.  I just walk as fast as I can.  I want to get away.  If I walk fast enough maybe I can make it never happen.  I just want to get to my truck and back home.  I don’t know where I am going.  I’m a little scared, but the relief of having being released is overwhelming.  If I can just find a hotel, they will have cabs in front, and I can get back to my truck, which hopefully hasn’t been broken into.  WHY did I just get it detailed?  Because Barbara was coming, and I wanted it to look nice and it looks so brand new.  WHY did I leave my laptop on the seat? Because I thought I’d be back in an hour.  And the largest question: WHY did my angels, my spirits, my instincts not warn me that something was amiss with this woman who had started chatting me up on the sidewalk several hours earlier.

This one I can’t get past.

I had done my Workbook lesson that morning (and every morning).  My prayer, every morning is, “Where would You have me go?  What would You have me do?  What would You have me say, and to whom?”  I’ve been clean and sober for decades, and try at all times to be quiet enough to hear the small still voice for God.  I have a great therapist and a wonderful spiritual advisor/astrologer.  I’ve spent years studying A Course in Miracles, Science of Mind, Seth, Ramtha, Louise Hay, Shirley MacLaine, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Richard Bach, John Gray, Wayne Dyer, et al.  I’m supposedly all spiritual and in touch with my feelings and senses and open to the whispers of the angels: “Don’t turn down that street,” and I avoid hitting a little old lady.  Don’t go out to a movie tonight,” and I end up being home and getting an important phone call.  Those messages I get.  Those messages I pay attention to.

But when I’m just being polite to this young Latina girl on the sidewalk, saying, “Okay, I’ll give you a massage,” - not because I’m interested, but because I’m being a nice person.  And yes, I can use the money.  Yes, it was confusing. But there were no alarm bells going off in the back of my head: “Just say no.  This is a trap.  Don’t do this.  Just walk away.”  Nothing.

A Course in Miracles would say, “Blessed are those who believe when they cannot see.”  There is a reason for all this.  Lord, I cannot see the reason for all this, but I am willing to see this differently.  Lord, do not allow me to close my heart to this woman, these cops who arrested me, the lawyers who want thousands of dollars to “fix it,” the people who will judge me or discriminate against me because I now have a criminal record, and am “in the system.”  When I get pulled over for making an illegal U-turn, the arrest record will come up.

“I am heir to the laws of the world that I identify with.”  In that world, I am a criminal and a prostitute. I know my true Self is neither of these things.  Can I choose not to identify with that world, when every computer associated with this incident will want to prove me wrong?

“The only righteous way to respond is to realize this is a call for love on their part.” Lord, please allow me to see these people through the eyes of Jesus, who would stand back and say, “I like ‘em!”

I am not a victim of the world.
I must take 100% responsibility for this.
All things are echoes of the voice for God.
These people were sent from central casting.

“All who are destined to meet shall meet and all who meet are destined to meet.”  It is up to me whether they are my crucifier or savior, depending on what I choose to be to them.  Can I choose to be a savior to this undercover cop who lured me in with a lie and had me arrested?  How could I possibly be a savior to her?  Can she be a savior to me?  It feels right now that I am being crucified.

I guess I am a savior to her because I am a collar for her, one of several that evening.  She can send in her monthly report: “I arrested 37 deviants that evening.  I cleaned up the city of illicit back rubs.”

Who do I have to be to be a person who can be bigger than this, who can laugh it off?  Who can say, “I can absorb the loss,” of thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees and even more in lost income?

Right now, it doesn’t seem fair.  It’s hitting where it hurts - in the pocket book, and in the threat of being deported and losing my life here.

But I am willing to let go of my perception of this situation.
I am willing to see this differently.

I found a cab, on some dark street downtown.  I wondered, if he knew I had no money, would he stop and pick me up?  But he did.  He took me to Wilshire and after a few false stops (I had been through a lot and was a little disoriented) we found my truck, safe and sound, everything intact. I drove home and was never so happy to turn into my driveway, turn the key into my front door, feed my cat, climb into my bed, and say good night to this day…

©2012 Rod Reynolds


  1. Dang...I "felt" all that Rod. Stunning recount of the experience. No idea if I could have been as present as you --even with all the learned knowledge I HAVE from similar teachers. What a moment (hours actually). I'm stunned and somehow deeply affected by having read this. Kevin E.

  2. You are an AMAZING writer. Wow. You should pursue it. Maybe that's why this experience happened. God bless you.