Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eyes

“I have three eyes,” he said, his Thai roots evident in his speech. “Two here.” He pointed to his eyes. “Do you know where the third one is?” My friends and I responded with puzzled looks. He pointed to his forehead. “In here. My mind is my third eye.”

I’d never thought of it that way. That seemed to be the theme of the night. My Labor Day weekend trip to Oklahoma City, unassuming as it seemed, had already gone headlong into becoming a quite significant experience.

He was a wiry Asian man in his fifties named Nick, though he insisted on being referred to as “Crazy Nick” or “Psycho Nick.” He was both the owner and sole employee a quaint, but popular, Thai restaurant. He was awake for 20 hours a day, then slept for only four.

Throughout the night, we learned many things about Crazy Nick. He told us he was a Buddhist, but also a universalist. He believed in all gods, including our own. He referred several times to Mary, God and Jesus in our conversation. He told us he spent at least an hour in meditation each night. He insisted that his wisdom came from within, but that he also recognized that he was stained with sin. My heart was moved with compassion for this man.

God…help him to hear You in all of this. Somehow, get through to him. Help him to realize that You are the one true God, I prayed silently. After a few hours of eating and talking with Crazy Nick, we bid him farewell. Driving away, we shared in our frustration that it was one thing to tell an atheist about Jesus, but an entirely different challenge to converse with a universalist about Him.

It made me grateful to know the truth, but deeply sad to know he didn’t, though he’d heard it several times from our mouths. But we also recognized that we could not dismiss all of what Crazy Nick was saying just because his beliefs were jumbled. He provoked me to think.

I am reminded of how often I am guilty of having my third eye blind. My mind is clouded with distractions and I stumble from task to task, trying to stay on top of the letters and numbers that fill the pages my day planner. But in a sad sort of way, I realize I have largely allowed those letters and numbers to become my life. I hardly think outside the parameters of my own comfortable existence.

As a counter to all of this, I see God effecting quite a bit of change in my life as of late. Just when I seem to get comfortable with something, He moves me up and out. I started to adjust to life in Nashville, and then it was time to leave. I started to feel I had a handle on life at home again, and then it was time to go back to school. I thought that I would always live in the quieter tower dorms on my campus, and I got placed as a chaplain in an ultra-social freshman dorm.

Here I am, my head spinning slightly from all the changes, realizing that life unfolds each day. It isn’t something I can figure out ahead of time. Believe me, I’ve tried and failed repeatedly. It is up to me to embrace it and the people that come with it. So far, so good. The best part is that God gives me grace and peace and the people I need each day to learn and grow and make it through.

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