One day the eldest son of a member of our church, a CS nurse, came to our Reading Room in downtown Los Angeles. He was seeking urgent help and needed to talk. Carlos, an engaging Hispanic man, had just been fired from his job — unjustly so, he felt. “The job I lost was perfect. They trusted me. I did good!” Subsequently, he couldn’t afford the rent of his apartment and had to let it go. A kind of paranoia now gripped him for he had indulged in a hyper-trend of seeking identity, pride and position through the culture of tattoos – of which he was decorated with quite an array. He had an intimidating “gang” look (although he said he was not part of one) and was afraid no one would hire him. He appeared to be in a pretty tough spot as a national debate about violent gangs, — especially from El Salvador where he was born — raged on under an intense scrutiny of immigration issues.
Sometime before his last job began, Carlos had contemplated suicide, his younger brother had actually made an attempt in an earlier slightly different predicament. He began once again to experience a stagnating depression. His health reflected a gloominess of heart. Indigestion plagued him, among other maladies. He’d tried to get into Christian Science before but it just didn’t connect for him.
While listening to his story I was also listening to divine Love, intelligence, divine Mind. What should I say? I kept listening … and praying for the right words.
There was a clear innocence about the young man. He was earnest and honest. Though he appeared to be in a tough situation, he was good about opening up, trusting and sincerely seeking for help.
Then a simple question came to mind and I asked: ”Carlos, when was the last time you remember being free, at peace — unburdened by these dilemmas?”
It didn’t take Carlos a moment. One day, just a couple weeks earlier, he and his younger brother rode bikes together down to the coastline. His face brightened, big smile, when recounting the scene. He said it was the most fun he’d had in ages. They had a blast...all day. In that one brief minute I could see all his heavy weights had lifted, his sullenness had, in that moment, totally vanished. He was free right then. Just telling me about it.
Seeing this I said, “Okay! here’s an idea: Don’t Get Off The Bike!”
For a second Carlos looked puzzled. Huh?
Stay on the bike, man! Don’t get off that wave-length! It was full of joy and hope, everything is possible when anyone feels that way — which quite clearly in that instant gave him back his strength and liberty. Strength and liberation were right there in the goodness he was recalling: the love and gratitude for the beautiful day, being with his brother, expressing vitality and life! – not saddled with all the woes of the grim realities, but being revitalized and conscious of his true nature.
“That IS your true nature, Carlos! Stay there. Don’t come back down to frustration and failure.”
He was right there, seeing the idea. But then, he began to sink (like Peter getting hit with the boisterous wind just when Jesus had him walking on the water a minute before). Carlos was beginning to feel “the heavy” again.
But then he grabbed hold of the liberating idea – the spiritual idea of perpetual goodness, joy, worthiness, ability, faith. He got back on the bike! That’s the vehicle to stay on, the thought to hold on to – always.
What’s that thought again? Here it is: God has made you perfect. Express that perfection under all circumstances. Never get off the bike! Well, he got it. His confidence was back. He felt it. Freedom. He saw the Truth and knew it was true. Carlos grasped it right then and right there.
And that was the healing. He never relinquished that true sense – his true image and likeness! He knew, just in our brief but meaningful visit, he could take that divine concept and put it to work in meeting every adverse situation as its innocent, confident and joyous master.
Carlos, the real man, was discovering in that moment that his forward-thinking, true nature and spiritual being had nothing to do with what had gone before. His prospects for life did not come from material history but were entirely based on spiritual development.
Soon after, like that week, a couple of wonderful things happened. He stopped taking all medications. His indigestion problem disappeared. Like overnight! And…Carlos had been dealing with a serious immigration issue and was in danger of being deported. For years they sought legal help to solidify his status as a U.S. citizen. In the past, he’d gotten a couple of DUI’s and that really put him in a tough spot. But the very next week, after he visited our reading room and had this revelation to “stay on the bike” – keep his thought and attitude free of fear, limitation and discouragement – a lawyer called to say he had a hearing that Friday. His mother was very worried. The lawyer said he wouldn’t be able to attend court with Carlos on the particular day. Carlos, however, was not concerned. He was going to stay up in that solid, spiritual atmosphere of goodness and freedom.
He and his mother went to the hearing and…you know what’s coming don’t you?!
Carlos was given his citizenship right there on the spot! He knew the outcome couldn’t be anything other than good. And so it was.
Since then, he’s studied regularly the Christian Science textbook, occasionally comes to a service and loves reading the weekly Bible lesson. He does it every day. A great new job with CalTrans is being arranged. He’s moving into his own place. Life is better than ever. He’s grateful and truly content. His om is also understandably tranquil and a lot more peaceful these days, full of joy and gratitude.
And why? He’s never gotten off that bike! He rides happily high up in the realm of spiritual freedom and goodness. He knows it’s the spiritual vehicle that just keeps getting better and better.