At age fifty the the inner voice somehow had penetrated the fog in my mind to set me free.
Yes, finally, of what had me bound and shackled.
Many have asked me to describe again how I actually was greeted by A Course in Miracles for the first time.
I describe the details and more experiences in my first book of the series: The Master of Everything: A Story of Mankind and the World of Illusion We Call Life.
I became a prisoner of the State of Ohio, and anything that could go wrong or go against me, did.
But I was willing to put up with it, That’s because something inside me was telling me that “this has to be, for a while, anyway.”
Besides, I had no choice in the matter.
As much pain as I was going through, the inner Voice kept telling me that I was going somewhere. It urged that I simply hang on.
On that cold morning of February 1, 2008, I was transported in chains to Lorain Correctional Institution.
I felt as exhausted and uncertain as ever before. But hadn’t lost the sense of the promising thoughts and expansive vision that had jolted me during my stay in the county jail.
Lorain Prison would hold me for reception and intake processing for a period of three to nine months.
This would be while I was assigned a security level and waited for a spot in the overcrowded prison system.
In that year alone, the state had brought in around 30,000 new prisoners.
For the time being I would remain in maximum security, though I’d never been violent and posed no escape risk.
This meant being locked in a cell 24/7. Other than to shower twice a week and to march to the dining (chow) hall three times a day.
After a buzz haircut and an issue of prison clothing, I was taken to Prison House 4. That’s where I would spend the next few to several months.
As I watched the guard slide a huge key into the heavy steel door to House 4. My thoughts of what prison must be like raced through me, as I said to myself: Well, this is it.
The guard forewarned me to follow him directly to my cell. He harshly added without looking at the other inmates waiting to harass me.
As he slowly swung open the vault-type door, blasts of insanely loud noise surged directly through me.
The the inner voice hadn’t showed up yet.
I stepped into the prison house, which held 260 prisoners, all double-bunked into single cells. I immediately noticed the high ceilings, which reminded me of an arena.
The circular design featured two tiers, called ranges, that resembled a balcony and ran all around the outer walls.
A two-bar railing separated the pit from the cells lined up one after another.
This was certainly a lions’ den.
I could see immediately that in order to survive I would have to decide what kind of lion I was going to have to be.
This surely was not the place where the “lion and the lamb would lie together.”
After sixty days I was notified I was being transferred to a medium-security prison, Richland. It would only be an hour’s drive for my girls to visit their locked-up father.
But a few weeks later, on the morning of the transfer, the state changed their plans for me.
Without notice I was loaded onto an old rickety bus with about fifty other prisoners, handcuffed, shackled, and chained with interlocking arms.
We were driven to Belmont Prison, over three hours away in the opposite direction.
Belmont had a nasty reputation for gang activity and carried the nickname “Gladiator School.” I tried to contain my anger, helplessness, and dread.
When I arrived at Belmont it was not what I expected, but what is?
Belmont certainly lived up to its reputation with “gangs” and “gladiators.” On my first day there I counted eight fights, resulting in each inmate being taken to “the hole.”
Unlike Lorain, there were no cells in the regular holding quarters.
But rather rows of double-bunked beds thirty inches apart, warehousing 272 prisoners to each house, squeezed tightly into five rows.
Belmont has eight of these prefabricated houses with tin roofs, totaling approximately 2,400 prisoners. All of them angry and had one thing in mind: survival.
Being a medium security level prison, for approximately seven hours most days prisoners are permitted to roam the prison yard, gymnasium, and library.
These hours of the day, with all of the eight houses intermingled, are a relentless test for one’s survival.
Following an eleven-day confinement that I spent in segregation, known as the “hole,” I was lying on my bunk trying to recover when a fire drill was enacted.
The yard was open, so to avoid the fire drill proceedings, I quickly left the scene and found my way into the prison library, which was not a part of the fire drill.
I needed something, anything, to lift the fog in my mind.
The library has limited material, mostly old and used.
Books and well-thumbed magazines are donated by local libraries that must unload their outdated material.
A good find requires a tough search, and I continued to browse until I noticed Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book Real Magic. I had owned this book prior to prison, and it was one of my favorites.
This was like an old friend out of the blue paying me a much-needed visit.
I immediately checked the book out of the library for two weeks and held on closely to every word, thankful for the boost.
Upon returning Real Magic, I the inner voice as a pure thought directed me to search a section of philosophical type books.
(BTW. Here’s another related article on revealing what is the Course of Miracles and how to experience healing:)
All, which had all been published years ago, according to their copyright.
An unusual old-looking, battered, blue-covered book with faded gold lettering popped out at me.
I casually pulled it off the shelf, and it fell to the floor and landed on my foot, partially opened to some torn and raggedy pages.
As I bent over to pick it up, I noticed the gold lettering said, to my surprise, A Course in Miracles.
I quickly made a double take to make sure what I’d just read was correct.
Immediately all those years and circumstances where I had heard mention of this Godsend flashed before me.
I said to myself, with a warm, glowing feeling inside, and also to the book as if it had been looking for me, “So this is what you are? I am so glad to finally meet you, and of all places. How did you get here?”
Both elated and nervous, my hands shook as I hugged this book in my arms.
I knew right then the inner voice was telling me whatever was contained within these pages was written for me.
As it turned out, this copy was the condensed version, with all three volumes included in one publication.
Please keep in mind this is not a publication you would ordinarily find in a prison, as you would a Bible, which is available everywhere.
Nevertheless, as I stood there in the library at the bookshelf where I met my new friend, I went to the copyright page to see it was dated 1975.
This was the year my search for answers truly began, as I saw it.
I quickly skimmed through it to catch glimpses of some of its wording.
I found it to be extremely deep and difficult to understand, like a foreign language. At least for now, I thought, resolving to learn this new language as best I could.
As I flipped through the book, feeling eager and rushed, I was stopped at a section in smaller than normal print, which grabbed my attention.
I stood there with tears in my eyes as I read the following, which seemed as though it were speaking to me:
Yes, the inner voice was bright and urging me on.
“This course is a beginning, not an end … No more specific lessons assigned, for there is no need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice For God … He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for His sure direction and His certain Word.”
This message then directed me to go to the ACIM workbook page 487, and I did what it said. All I can say to you now is that the message I found there did tell me what to do.
I examined the inside of this copy of A Course in Miracles which was ragged and marked-up cover to cover.
I noticed that the book had been received by the prison library two years prior. It had not once been checked out by another inmate.
A name and phone number was written inside the front cover by a woman in Sedona, Arizona, with her handwritten message: “My will is that this finds Its way to you.”
I figured the book had once belonged to her, and for some reason she had donated it to a charity.
The writing seemed to be years old.
And made me think it might have ended up in an estate sale or a charitable sale for some social club, or what have you.
In any event, it somehow found its way across the country until it landed on my foot. And at the very time I was in critical need for it to be with me.
The condensed version of A Course in Miracles contains the 669-page text, the 488-page workbook for students, and the 92-page manual for teachers.
I immediately checked it out of the library and began to read each word of its deep content. At first I found much of it difficult to understand; nothing seemed to make sense.
But in due time the inner voice would help me sort through.
However, I felt the words connecting in a peculiar way I cannot describe. I felt I was being pulled toward something, but also welcomed.
What I was beginning to experience through the inner voice was both exciting and inexplicable.
I knew to the core of me that for some strange reason this publication was destined to show up in my life. Later, and still now, I have a sensation that it was written for me.
Among my many questions was: “Why didn’t I find this sooner?” Since then, I have found the simple answer to that question, which I easily accept. I was not ready.
The inner voice suggested to me that ACIM was destined to show up in my life when I was ready, when the time was right.
I immediately through the inner voice began to realize answers I’d been looking for.
Likewise, felt I was being pointed in the right direction with all I would encounter during my days in prison.
Since this book was the library’s only copy and not my own, I decided at first to quickly read it cover to cover without missing a word, regardless of what I did not understand.
After all, I was in prison and had plenty of time to do just that.
But I knew I would need to have my own personal copy eventually. That’s because I had already accepted it as my life—a commitment I wanted.
I was not even aware if the book was still in print or available in stores. I needed to find out, and as a prisoner we have zero computer access and limited telephone use.
Initially I thought of writing my longtime friend Ron, who had stuck by me by coming forward after I was sent to prison to offer his help in any fashion.
I thought that maybe Ron could find me a copy of A Course in Miracles. But there was one snag.
As a prisoner, and due to drug smuggling into prison, I was only permitted to receive brand-new books.
They had to be shipped to me directly from an approved vendor.
I decided to hold off for now on notifying Ron, and in fact, I never did mention it to him at all. I didn’t want him to think I had gone overboard with my emotions and fallen for some “save the day” self-help book.
The timing wasn’t right, and something was urging me to see it this way.
Most people do not realize the importance to prisoners of an outside support system, such as Ron. I continually thank him for all his efforts in helping me.
He writes me consistently each week as a matter of fact, and our relationship as friends has grown strong. He visits me as often as he can, even though he lives in Florida.
Ron tells me it gives him an excuse to check in on his eighty-two-year-old mother, who lives in Ohio. One day the inner voice and I will repay Ron in a special way.
(Here’s a Podcast and related article about overcoming being confused about who you are – Course in Miracles:)
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