Truth Makes Us Free – Even in Prison
By Sebastian Blaksley
I have had the unthinkable experience of having to go to two penitentiary institutions in Buenos Aires in order to visit some friends and family. I go weekly. At the beginning it was a shock. The prison system was so far from my thoughts that it practically did not exist, even though in the past I had participated in pastoral service to prisons in the parish where I lived.
To perform a pastoral activity to prisoners is one thing; but it is very different to see friends and family members living through the prison experience, with all its stigmatization and deprivation of freedom.
When life brought me the experience of having incarcerated relatives, I immediately thought: How can I transform this experience of apparent pain into Light? What does Jesus tell me to do? How can I be the incarnate Love of Christ in form in this situation—which for me was extreme?
The first day I went to visit them, I saw clearly that love must be shared at all times and places. Love cannot exclude anything. So I organized myself and made the long formalities necessary to present to the authorities a project of weekly meetings and workshops within the Ezeiza Penitentiary, a federal prison, the largest in Argentina. In the last week of August the project was approved unanimously, even enthusiastically.
So I started going to Ezeiza every week, conducting meetings and workshops with prisoners together with their families. The experience was so enlightening and healing that it is difficult to express in words the joy of sharing the Love of God with those who are so open, so needing to receive. Soon I was asked by the authorities to conduct the same program in another Argentinian prison.
What to say to a group of prisoners? That was the question I asked myself while organizing for the first meeting. And the answer was clear. Create the new by letting the past go forever. Open up to be the new Self that we truly are. Then the quote from ACOL came to mind:
Your past has nothing to do with the truth about who you are, except insofar as it has helped you, or not, to remember who you are. C:31.26
So on this basis we held the first meeting and we will continue along these lines, reading and sharing together from Un Curso de Amor, the Spanish edition of ACOL. All this to help each other to remember: Letting go of the past entirely. Letting it go never to return. And at the same time embracing the new Being that we always are eternally, newly-loved and in Love.
And in this way we begin to experience the truth that makes us free—even in prison. What truth? The truth about who we really are, that is, God. For as we know from Lesson 110 of ACIM, beyond any theory or belief, we are and always will be as God created us.
It is incredible how everything flows with peace and harmony whenever I go to facilitate the prison groups. Yesterday several in the group had difficult legal situations. The father of one of them had died and although the prisoner could have gone to the funeral, he decided not to go to avoid media exposure because he is well known to the public. He felt guilty and angry. We had a great session to heal and leave everything behind.
Yesterday we focused on the theme of emotions and the topic of Day 8 in ACOL, “Accept the Present.” The truth we are trying to make real in our lives is to accept everything that comes and to embrace it as a gift from Heaven. Easy to say! And often difficult to accept for minds that are still in the process of reuniting with the heart.
Because I am working with men, they often have difficulty expressing feelings. We are focused on that. Acceptance of feelings is essential in these conditions, as it is in everything.
They were so happy and grateful. I always come back from the prison with deep feelings of love, compassion and gratitude, in a condition of no judgment, great depth, and love.
I feel the Angels are present every Wednesday when I go to carry out the love of Christ among the prisoners. The eyes of the prisoners and their families express a great need for love. And a great feeling of gratitude. It is amazing how the eyes of those who implore love can embrace the soul.
Everything is light in those sessions. Everything is divine grace. It is impossible to express all the goodness that is done in this work. A song to God sounds in my heart every time I come back from the prison groups. A song that says: How could we pay You, dear God, for all the good you have done for us?
We are one heart. We are one mind. Joined in wholeheartedness we are the heaven of the world. C:I.11
Sebastian Blaksley, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was born to a prominent family. Although many opportunities were available to him, he wanted to be a monk. That not being allowed, he got a PhD in international business and communications, and lived in the US for 11 years, as well as in London, Shanghai, and elsewhere. He then established his own company. In 2011 he discovered ACIM. In 2016 he discovered ACOL. Soon thereafter he left the business world behind and created the nonprofit Fundacion Un Curso de Amor, the organization publishing the Spanish edition of ACOL. Readers may also appreciate the miracle story of how Sebastian discovered ACOL, his reflections on being loved, and his “song of gratitude.”
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Love Is the Healing
(Haiku from the Heart)
By Rick Carlson
who needs a potion?
they say Love is an ocean
so immerse yourself
the distant city
chopping wood, fasting
up the hill the young wolves yelp
in this peaceful place
the candles flicker
spirit-breath in the chapel
Russian icons dance
blue flame turns yellow
molten red dancing on top
warm familiar house
conversation rolls around
stories of rebirth
one ready to die
is truly ready to live
as Love eternal
Rick Carlson, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has studied ACIM since 1983 and ACOL since 2006. He recently retired from a career as a personal attendant to disabled adults. The poems above were taken from his collection entitled “Love is the Healing” where he says, “This poet is simply one of Love’s messengers. So, dear reader, are you. Poetry is a mirror that doesn’t break if it’s dropped once in a while.” Rick has been an amateur poet since he was a teenager.