By Bruce A. Smith
On a Thursday before Christmas in 1998 I experienced a miracle at a shopping mall in Bellevue, Washington called The Crossroads. It involved a bizarre encounter with a janitor, and it seems that my teacher, Ramtha, the Enlightened One, was making an intervention in my life. But regardless of who or what the entity was, the experience brought me out of a very dark place.
Earlier that month I had bombed terribly at an open mic for singer-songwriters at The Crossroads. My dream of being a performance artist—telling stories and singing my songs—was becoming a life of torture. Days before, I had started burning up with fever brought on by yet another bout of bronchitis, which had afflicted me on and off for two years. Hacking coughs and a runny nose made me too sick to work at my $5/hour job making pizzas. Broke, I was living out of my pick-up truck and camping under a fir tree in a corner of my ex-girlfriend’s five-acre property. Not ideal, I admit, for curing a chronic upper-respiratory disease.
Worse, though, was the feeling that I didn’t have a friend in the world. I felt I had no place to take my feverish body. Even though I had been living in Yelm, Washington for eight years attending Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, none of my schoolmates seemed to care about me or have the capacity to tend to me if they had the desire. Or I just didn’t know how to ask for help. Worse, I didn’t have the resources to take care of myself.
Boy, some enlightenment, I thought. What the hell is wrong with me that I would spend eight years with Ramtha and end up like this? I never doubted Ramtha’s primary teaching that we create our own realities—I just couldn’t figure out how or why I had created so much misery for myself.
That Thursday I confronted my misery. I had challenged myself: If I was healthy, what would I do right now?
I answered: Go play some music and bask in the joy of my dream. So again, I drove to The Crossroads for their open mic.
The Crossroads was not an ideal place to struggle as an artist. It’s 80 miles from Yelm and to get there in time I had to drive in the face of rush-hour traffic. Even more disheartening was the venue—the open mic at The Crossroads was held in their food court. The raucous environment of a fast-food eatery was too obscene for my taste as a serious performer. However, on this Thursday no ideas that made better sense.
After waiting two hours to take the stage as performer #16, I played my two allotted songs. One, titled “True Blue,” was a tribute to my ex for letting me live on her land even though we rarely spoke to each other anymore. The other, “Knights of the Midnight Sky,” was a story-song reflecting my life in the Ramtha School. When I finished, my steps across the stage echoed louder than the polite applause. In a daze, I packed up my guitar and headed down a long corridor to the parking lot.
At the mall entrance doors I lingered. I had no energy to enter the bleak night and cold rain, nor my uncertain future. Instead, a clear picture in my head emerged of how much relief it would be to jump off the I-405 overpass at NE 8th Avenue.
Oh, God, now I’m suicidal. Two years earlier I had given up my job as a psychotherapist to be a performer, and now this? I felt guilty and angry, but had little will to fight the thought of suicide.
However, standing next to me at the exit doorway was a five-foot stack of “Seattle Weekly.” Lacking any motivation to move, I flipped through the pages of the top copy. Thoughts swirled: Will the bridge over I-405 really be high enough?…Why was I sick again?… Why didn’t any of the self-healing techniques Ramtha had taught me work? …Why didn’t any of my music make sense to anyone? …Why was I alone when I tried so hard to make friends?
Then out of nowhere, I heard a loud voice boom directly behind me. “Do you know the name of the movie where Elvis smashed his guitar in the bathroom after bombing at the Grand Ole Opry?”
I hadn’t heard anyone come up behind me, yet some one was obviously there. I felt confused and disoriented.
“Yeah,” the voice said again, “do you know the name of that Elvis movie? I can’t think of it and it’s been bugging me all day.”
I turned to find where the voice was coming from and banged into the torso of a very large man dressed in a bluish-grey work suit. How did he get so close to me? I never heard him, nor even sensed him! My pivot forced him to back up a step. He moved a dust mop to the side. My Gawd, he’s the shopping mall custodian!
“I gotta remember the name of that movie,” the cleaning man said with urgency. “It’s been driving me crazy all day. Do you know it?”
“No, I don’t know the name,” I said. “I never even knew Elvis was in any movie smashing a guitar.”
“Oh yeah, it was one of his first ones. He had just bombed really bad at the Opry. He walked into the men’s room and figured he was all washed up. Took his guitar and smashed it on the sink. Don’t you remember? C’mon, ya gotta remember! You’ve got a guitar. C’mon, I’m sure you know it!”
“Oh, man, I gotta remember that name.”
He moved a few steps away from me and resumed pushing his dust mop. This bizarre encounter made me light-hearted and happy. I was almost laughing! Certainly my suicidal ideation had been broken, and I knew the janitor was responsible.
His timing’s perfect, too, I thought. Wait a minute, too perfect. It feels divinely perfect. It must be, oh, my Gawd! I’m having an encounter with a divine being! This guy must be a manifestation of my God-Within, an angel or something. This is just like those stories in the “Life after Life” books… I called out:
“Hey mister, wait!”
The custodian stopped and turned. I continued:
“How did you know to ask me that question at this exact moment?”
His eyes, which had been sparkling and clear, turned hazy and dull.
“Uh, I just wanted to know the name of that movie,” he replied.
I asked him a few more questions probing if he was actually an interdimensional being. Plus, I wanted to thank him for saving my life.
But each question I asked him made him squirm. He grunted or shrugged his answers. He doesn’t get it, I realized.
He backed away from me in fear, avoiding my eyes.
Then I became scared of him. Maybe he’s crazy, I thought. I wanted to get away from him immediately, so I made a lame excuse about having a long drive home. I turned and strode to the door. But, as I moved through the mall doors I heard him call out.
“Hey, are you coming back next week?”
I stopped, and turning I faced my benefactor. His eyes were bright and clear again.
“Yeah, sure; I’ll be here.” I gave him a big wave, hefted my guitar and entered my future.
The next day I called an old friend who ran a bed and breakfast. It was time to come in from the cold and I asked if I could rent a room on credit. I had a deep, confident knowingness that the money would come from somewhere.
“Sure,” my buddy replied. “It’ll be great to have ya here. Sixty bucks a week. Pay me when you can.”
I moved in immediately. The next day my dad wired me two-hundred dollars to pay for a couple weeks of rent, food, and whatever I needed to nurse myself back to health. Later that week, he sent me a plane ticket to come home to New York for Christmas where I recuperated from the lingering fatigue and coughs. But, before I left I returned to The Crossroads.
That night an audience enjoyed my music for the first time in my life. I jubilantly exited the stage and headed to the parking lot. Approaching the familiar exit doors, fresh with a new stack of “Seattle Weekly,” I saw my friend, the custodian.
“Hey, I’m back,” I called out, and walked in his direction.
He paused and looked up from his mop.
“Yeah, I feel so good,” I continued. “Tonight’s a big night. I really connected with the audience, for the first time, too.”
He looked at me blankly. I was surprised he didn’t remember me.
“Did you ever find out the name of that Elvis movie?” I asked, trying to help him remember our encounter. He looked searchingly at me, then shook his head slightly from side-to-side.
I couldn’t tell if he was wincing or telling me, “No.”
God, he doesn’t remember me at all. I’m not even sure he remembers asking about the Elvis movie. He seemed eager to break contact.
“Well, thanks,” I said and stepped away.
He doesn’t remember anything at all, I thought, walking to my truck. The blank look on his face tonight was like the dazed look last week when I started asking him questions.
Then I heard a voice. I didn’t know if it was mine—it felt like it was in my head – or someone else’s. It sounds like Ramtha’s voice. Nevertheless, the Voice said loud and clear, “He’s a simple man.” I understood. My friend the custodian was a vehicle, a channel if you will, to make an intervention in my life.
My thanks to all – whoever you are.
Note: Ramtha™ is a registered trademark of JZK, Inc. Used with permission.
1999, revised 2017
Bruce A. Smith