Randy’s First Installment
NOTE: This offering is written by a dear friend of mine whom I met under unusual circumstances. He has such a unique and frightening story that I felt he should share it with the world. His writings will be presented just as he writes it, no editing or modifications. Please consider his words carefully. B.
My name is Randy Rael. Well, my whole name, my formal name. is Randolpho David Santiago Rael-Montoya, or in American, Randolph David James Rael. But since we are Americans, we just say Randy Rael (“Rael” rhymes w/”sail”).one of his students
I’ve got much I’d like to share with you, but for now, I’d like to tell you how and when I met Chuck. Okay, I didn’t say “Grand Master Blackburn”. Well, because I’ve never referred to him this way. You see, I’ve never been, officially, one of his students, although I’ve learned so much from him over the years, as I suspect everyone who has ever met him has. No, Chuck is actually one of two people I can sincerely call my best friend.
I first met Chuck, if my memory serves me correctly, in 1992, in prison, at a place called Craggy Correctional Center, just outside of Asheville, NC. No, Chuck was NOT in prison. I was. I am. But that is another story.
At this time, I had been “down” (locked up) about five years, and had the job assignment, earning a whopping 70 cents a day, as one of the ABE-GED tutors, or teacher’s aides. The school program was sponsored and ran by the local community college, and Chuck got this job with them.
He was hired to give the ABE-GED students, all convicted felons by the way, some sort of a “Self Awareness” class two or three days a week. The other tutor and I were told about the class and we soon found out that Chuck was not assigned a teacher’s aide. We had no idea what sort of experience he might have had working with prisoners and prison staff, so we figured he could use some help.
Because my co-worker was concerned about getting as much “yard time” (prison yards are open only at certain times) as he could, we decided that it would be me who would stay back and help Chuck out. I wasn’t sure what he would need, if anything, but if he did need something, paper, pencils, etc., I could make sure he got it.
So I come into his first session and introduced myself and explained why I was there. He said he really didn’t need anything right then, so I took a seat in the back row and listened as he introduced himself and his purpose to his students. Now, I really don’t remember all that this specific class was about, but after about three sessions, as I paid attention to bits and pieces of what he was sharing with the ABE students, the thought came to me that we had one of those “New Agers” on our hands.
Now, I am what is known as a “cradle Catholic”, and even though I was struggling with my faith at this time, being of this mind set I knew I had to be wary of anything this “new ager” had to say!
So, instead of tuning him out during his classes, I started paying closer attention, mainly to see how far out there he was going to get. But you know what? And this really did come as a huge surprise to me, what he was saying actually began to make sense to me! Not only that, but it also seemed to be “right”!
Whew! Talk about making one stop and think! So I started really listening to what he had to say, and I even started asking him questions. I began to look forward to his classes and I felt a real connection—once I opened my mind to what he tries to teach people.
I’m not sure, but I think his class lasted for only one semester (actually 1 year). After it ended, Chuck wanted to share more with us prisoners. so he proposed to begin a meditation/relaxation class, which was approved by the administration. This was actually one of the first, if not the first, class of its kind within the NC prison system (actually, at the time, the ONLY one in medium security facilities). We met once a week and I really started learning then—I mean really learning!
Chuck and I became good friends. He and his wife even got approved to come visit me on weekends. You see? If you want to visit a prisoner, you have to be approved first and placed on the prisoner’s visitors list, and then you can visit once a week. He’s been coming to see me ever since.
We’ve been through quite a bit over the years. We’ve both been through some good times and some really “bad” times. But through it all, we’ve been there for each other. To have a true friend, you must be a true friend. And Chuck has been that for so many years now. He was there when I left, and he’s here now that I’ve come back—but that is another story….