Tonight I stand at the doorway of my home and watch thousands of people walking past, most of them holding small boats made of folded banana leaves with incense and candles on the top, heading to the river. They walk, some laughing and dancing, some singing, some with no expression, some sad. Interspersed with the people are trucks carrying large floats, some beautiful, some hideous, and in the middle of the floats are small images and idols of gods. At the river, they will light the candles and incense, attach some money to the boat and send it off down the river as a thank offering and sin offering to the river god. To some, it is a serious thing, yet others scarcely know what they are doing. It is beautiful and empty ritual, useless. It’s called Loi Kratong.
Tonight I hear a young man speak about his fear while living as a monk in a temple for one month. He talks of his fear of evil spirits in the temple at night, as well as dogs howling when they sense evil.
Tonight I see a face on the street. It is sad, lined with worry and fear.
Tonight I hear a story of superstition and fear, the fear of bad luck, and the belief that if a lizard cries more than nine times it brings good luck, and if less than nine times, it brings bad luck.
Today I see a little girl, moved with compassion at her father’s need for money for his farm, donate several hundred baht to her hero.
Last night I heard a seeking heart give voice to questions: How do you know if you have done something wrong? What if you have sinned and you don’t recognize it?
Today I listen to the heart of a woman, full of love for her children, seeking to give them the best she can, even when she doesn’t always know how.
Today I hear children praying for money for financial needs for kingdom work.
I am watching the fight of good and evil. Sometimes I forget this. Living in another country takes energy. Sometimes it seems all my energy is used up just in the process of living, and I feel like I am living only on the surface, floating along without making a difference in life, wrapped up in my own world. Then come glimpses, reminders. And for a little bit I can see and remember- there is more to this than I realize. At first glance it is hidden. But if you take a closer look, you can see that beneath the jewels and lights laughter and smiles and beauty of this country lies a heart of fear. Fear that can be catching and suffocating and compelling and controlling.
If only they could see with the eyes of God the army behind us.
God give me words to speak that they might know! And the courage to speak that they might be saved!
And a heart that is passionate enough to die to its own desires.