Dream of: 11 December 1997 "Kneeling Down To God"
About 30 students, including myself, were sitting at our desks in a typical classroom, while a gaunt middle-aged woman with black hair stood at the head of the class, presenting the lesson. I wasn't paying close attention; I felt disconnected with my surroundings, as if I were uncertain why I was even here. Yet I felt comfortable, willing to simply sit back without becoming involved.
For some reason, however, the teacher became dissatisfied with me, and abruptly told me I must go to jail. Since the jail was in the same building, I was promptly escorted to a cell.
I was locked up for two days in the tiny cell – a gloomy depressing time. However I didn't feel much pain. It seemed I had become somewhat inured to adversity, somewhat numb. I simply accepted that I would be in jail for a while and that I would just have to endure.
After languishing absently for two days, I returned to the classroom and re-took my seat. Although no student spoke to me, I perceived that they were surprised to see me, that they wondered if the ordeal of prison had permanently affected me. I felt drained and invigorated at the same time. I didn't want to talk with anyone in the room, but I definitely didn't want to return to the jail. I just wanted to sit quietly in my seat and be left alone.
The teacher wasn't satisfied with that. Standing in front of the room, she had opened a box of chocolate cake mix and was showing the class how to bake a cake. When she pointedly turned to me and asked me if I would like to prepare the cake, I curtly replied, "No."
Obviously this wasn't the answer she wanted, and she began needling me, tiresomely questioning why I didn't want to help with the cake. When she asked if I knew how to bake a cake, I reluctantly admitted that I did, that the instructions were displayed on the back of the cake box, and that I had prepared cakes before when I had been younger. But I told her I simply didn't want to prepare a cake right now.
The teacher walked back to my seat and with her acid voice abruptly told me that I must return to jail. My heart sank. The idea of returning to the tiny little cell was so depressing, I was on the verge of telling the teacher that I would prepare the cake. Grudgingly I even thought, "I'll do it." But something prevented me from speaking; I simply couldn't demean myself by acquiescing and agreeing to prepare her stupid insipid cake. Accepting my lot, I stood up and marched out of the room.
Left on my own to proceed to the jail, I meandered through the corridors and down some stairs, reflecting that jail had often played a role in my life. I had previously been in jail five times before the teacher had first sent me to jail. Now that I was going to jail again today, would this be my seventh time, or would the last two days and today all roll together so this would only count as my sixth time in jail? It didn't really matter. The important fact was that I was accustomed to jail, and I was able to accept incarceration with a certain equanimity.
Once I reached my cell, I let myself in, and made myself as comfortable as I could. Cut off from my feelings and from the world around me, all I could do was wait. Except for one other thing ....
Having become aware that it was the hour of prayer, I stood, walked out of my cell (I had a certain amount of freedom within the jail area), and made my way to the area reserved for prayer. Five times a day (similar to Moslem custom) the prisoners were called to this area to pray.
When I arrived at the prayer area, I noticed a group of men dressed in typical Moslem attire (some resembled Iranian mullahs) standing over to the side, talking among themselves. They appeared undecided whether they were actually going to pray. I paid little attention to them as I walked equably to the carpet which had been laid out on the floor, in front of a wall, for prayer. I bowed down on my knees on the carpet, placing my hands together in front of my face. I thought to myself how incongruous it must appear for a prisoner such as myself to be kneeling down to God. My hair was long (I even seemed to have a pony tail); I must have looked like an unlikely person to be praying.
But thoughts of what the others might think didn't matter to me. Impervious, I was concentrated on what I was doing, on my need to pray to God, on the feeling that only prayer could afford me relief at this time. I lowered my head all the way to the floor and touched my forehead to the ground, stretching out my hands in front of me with my palms flat on the carpet. Then I raised my head back up, still remaining kneeling, and again put my hands together in a purposeful praying position in front of my face.
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