The charge was dangerous driving and the sentence was 90 days. The Exeter Road Correctional Facility inMy strongest memory of those few days when I was trapped, incarcerated, is not necessarily a negative one. It just happens to be rather strange. For the first few hours, I just sat pacing in my room, but only in my head. I felt like screaming. When we were forced to congregate on the range (number 4), I slumped down against the wall next to my cell and I started reading. Enrolled in a college at the time, I was allowed to bring in a few textbooks so I could study for my courses. I sat there, endlessly, skimming over the material. By the second day, I started to actually pace in my cell as well as out on the range. Surprisingly, I was asked to join in on a game of euchre while one player had visitation. I was reluctant, but not for lack of skill. I agreed and played well, although quietly. I found myself lowering who I was in order to fit in. No one wants to bully the nice kid on the block. When everyone likes you, you have no enemy.
was a minimum security detention centre but it was a prison nonetheless. With
one third off the sentence automatically dropped, then another third lowered
for good behaviour, I could easily ride out the remaining 30 days. So I
thought. There was fear of the other inmates, anxiety at the idea of my world
going on without me, but the most trying experience of the whole matter was
being locked up in my cage for hours on end. On the 9th day of my
detention, I was released. I was awarded a " London, Ontario " which allowed
me to complete my time on weekends. Each Saturday and Sunday, I had to perform
assigned duties, as with community service. I did my duty and then went on with
my life. I was never in any real trouble with the law ever again (at least I
didn't get caught). I believed I was rehabilitated but I would argue that I am
more medicated than anything else. Temporary Absence
My incarceration began on May 6th 1988. By the time my birthday arrived on May 15th, I was calm and polite to the naked eye, but inside I was ready to make a break for it. I never understood what the experience of jail was really like and I still don't, not really. It went well for me. I played them all like those cards. It was actually a birthday to remember, regardless of my location on that day. I was informed of my release come the next morning and my family visited me in the afternoon. My parents' support only encouraged me more. I had almost made it through. When I returned to the range after the visit, a few of my euchre pals had piled up wads of butter and lit a match which they placed dead centre. The birthday wishes were muted and without song (you don't sing in prison). Looking back on the whole experience, I am humbled and see great purpose in the time I spent in jail. The people I came in contact with were not monsters, they were people, just like anyone else might be. Albeit, a minimum security facility does not expose one to the more severe criminal, it still allowed me to explore the boundaries of my own empathy and I learned just how similar people really are. We might react differently to how we feel but the feelings are always the same.
It was odd watching approximately 75 people stand and wave their hands in the air, as if they were at a football game. I was disappointed that the "metachronal rhythm" from the group didn't result in a stadium wave. It was even stranger to have the 'house band' pump out rock song after rock song. This was not the music of my Faith at the time. We had gathered near the altar call, at the front of the crowded room. Teenagers, old women, and even small children were somehow void of anything but joy. Many ethnic groups were represented and one disabled girl in a wheelchair set the scene just right. In secret, I imagined I was there as a member of the LGBT community but I am sure this revelation was not the one sought in prayer that day. The reading was followed by a quick sermon on the gifts of the Spirit and then the music started to play once again. With little experience in proper fundamentalism, I kept questioning in my head what Jesus would think of these shenanigans. I understood the genre but I was not accustomed to it in what was supposed to be a Holy place. Halfway through a song, the madness set in.
The lead singer started voicing in a foreign tongue, one I did not recognize. It was more like a babble, a random flowing of what might be words, spewing from her mouth. The band joined in this singing. Slowly after, it spread like a plague, the adult congregation joined in a very uncomfortable chant. They waved to the music, mumbled into the air and some even shook like a tiny earthquake would. In hindsight, I understand the glossolalia they practiced was not the xenoglossy they had preached, but it mattered little to me at the time. I wouldn't say I was enchanted by the display, more disengaged. I just wasn't sure what the hell was going on. I wasn't prepared for this seemingly contrived and well-controlled spectacle. At the end of the afternoon, I left with a rather bad taste in my mouth. I double checked to make sure it wasn't locust. For over 2 years of attendance, I sat and watched as follower after follower incoherently bounced the Spirit around like an epileptic. The lesson was never hard to learn. These people felt that God was moving through them when they were actually making it up. All the voices, for all those years, and not one spoke French or Mandarin. There was no discernable message. Not one of the experiences I witnessed was scripturally accurate. People really can convince themselves something is real and actual, even if it's the furthest thing from the truth.
By the time the bus pulled into the station in
I had passed the empty lot on the way to some place, then cut through on the way back to some place else. A flimsy looking "for sale" sign sat propped up at one corner, against a mound of gravel and medium sized stones. Clumps of grass and weed criss-crossed the property but did little to smooth the path. One second the ground beneath me was firm, then a trench would catch my foot and attempt to trip me. I had to watch my footing as I headed toward the other side. Near centre, eyes stuck on the ground, it appeared to me. A single $20.00 bill sat waving hello to my weary face. From those lingering and very inconvenient holes came my salvation, or at least it felt like that at the time. It was one of the strangest events in my history. Something finally granted me reprieve, regardless of whether is was true or not. It seemed I had actually received assistance from God. It was exactly the break I needed, not to mention the very thing I had begged for. As I headed back towards the bus station, I gave thanks for my answered prayer. I had never experienced one of them before.
Often the ridiculous stands out much greater than some everyday experience. Things appear strange to draw our attention to them. The uniqueness of these encounters acts to focus the attentive mind. To recognize the lesson is the purpose. Whether we come to recognize common ground with our fellow man through dairy products or understand the imperfection of manmade religions, we can learn if we really want to. Sometimes God even seems to intercede. Tiny little miracles happen all around us but we fail to see them. God doesn't speak to us as a rock or a fig leaf. Burning bushes, flying horses, even visions on the way to