Since early in 2007 the efforts to deliver a message of hope as offered in A Course in Miracles to prisoners have been ongoing. Prisoners have been a pet project for this writer for several reasons. The first of these reasons might be attributed to the personal experience of having served most of a ten year sentence in prison, but the greater reasons have to do with what occurred while there. It was 1974 and I was twenty-four years of age at the time. My own history up to that point was one like so many stories of a young street thug, growing up in a working class Chicago neighborhood, discouraged and disillusioned by the mediocrity and grind of what life had to offer.
That there had to be something better was always a predominating thought. So 'better' for me, was the excitement and the radical comradity of our little clique of thugs, always plotting, always stealing, always looking for that thrill. So when those activities resulted in my first arrests, confinement in juvenile punishment facilities and finally in a ten year prison sentence,( the big time), I was brought to a juncture. I would crash and burn. Previously embraced justifications for my anti-social behavior would soon be shattered and all of the glamour of the life of a criminal would cease to contain even a trace of validity.
The underlying conviction that there had to be something better still remained but now (after the experience I'll describe below) that something would take on an entirely new and remarkable definition.
So at twenty-four and while wallowing in the misery of prison life this is what occurred that would lead to forever changing the way I would perceive the world:
The real Me...The I...The Essence of Who and Where I AM emerged for just a few short minutes one summer afternoon after an entire sleepless night of worry and immense fear over the possibility that I might be killed the following day.
For the first time in many years I turned to the God I perceived and I prayed for deliverance. I begged and prayed for many hours with fever and intensity never before offered. 'He' answered...'He' delivered me. And for a few brief moments 'He' lifted Me from the body and embraced Me as a loving Father does His Son and assured Me once again, that I would be alright.
While the body lay on the prison cell cot below, the awareness of "I" expanded to include every molecule of air around Me... every feature, the sunlight that streamed through the barred window, the trees and grass outside, the room itself...everything was Me. A crescendo of 'sound' accompanied the experience that completely absorbed all sound on earth and played as every instrument in every orchestra all over the world, in perfect harmony.
Now, many years later, and after much search, many books, and after the message of Forgiveness as gently prescribed in A Course in Miracles, I came to realize that the 'person' who searched would never find the answers. That person, a product of the same thought system that created him, would seek and never find because he was simply in the way. His beliefs, his concepts and ascribed personage blocked the very awareness of that which he sought. He had to get out of his own way first. He had to surrender his own image of who he thought he was before any Real knowledge could enter.
The Law of Forgiveness would lend him the means to do just that. In Forgiveness, the little self would fade into the oblivion from which it came and what would emerge is what was there all along. That Essence of the Real Self, that "I" and that assurance that everything would be alright. And from that Essence a Power uncommon in this perceived world would accompany it and everything would change for the better, forever.
Today, almost every day this writer visits the local post office to deliver copies of the original edition of A Course in Miracles [donated by Course in Miracles Society] along with an easy to comprehend introduction to The Course as made available through the text version of Gary R. Renard's The End of Reincarnation to lists of prisoners who have expressed the desire to learn more about the Course. With the text version is a brief essay describing what is referred to as The Five Signs, five mystical experiences during this life which led to adopting a practical application of the spiritual discipline taught in A Course in Miracles.
With the help of people like Jon Mundy and his Miracles Magazine, Regina Dawn Akers and her The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament, Gary R. Renard and Tami Simon, (The End of Reincarnation) and Dov Fishman of The One Mind Foundation and Acim Gather, as well as Beverly Hutcheson, Marrianne Williamson, Robert Perry, and those friends who assist with postage donations, and especially Course In Miracles Society, a new wave of compassion is spreading throughout the populations of prisons all over the country.
For many of these prisoners, long forgotten by family or friends, this new avenue of communication brings welcome relief and a gentle, warm and loving response to their cry for help. It brings Hope where apathy, despair and grief make their home. It delivers Love where blame, guilt and punishment saturate the atmosphere. It brings the possibility of the Peace of God to a 'place' where the egos appetite for misery,pain and hopelessness can now move aside to welcome a glimmer of Light.
May the Love, Light and Peace of God be experienced by them, and with every second feel another moment spent in His Endless Embrace.
"Compassion is the radicalism of our time" - Dalai Lama
Joe Wolfe facilitates A Course in Miracles study group at The Peace Center in Berwyn every Sunday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. He is available to speak at your center on his experiences leading to A Course in Miracles, a compelling account that will touch your soul deeply, and strengthen your faith in a forgiving force of Good in the Universe. You can contact Joe at www.spiritlightoutreach.org
Or write him at:
Spirit Light Outreach
c/o The Peace Center
6833 Stanley Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
Five personal mystical experiences (TheFiveSigns.com) that began at three years of age and culminated with a profound out-of-body experience at twenty-five, eventually led to applying a practical daily spiritual discipline as suggested in A Course in Miracls.
Writer, speaker and teacher of ACIM.
Host and founder of the Course's prison ministry, Spirit Light Outreach
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