Though I have often pondered the Jewish concept of the ten days of judgment between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, at no other time has that seemed more literally appropriate to me than in this particular year. According to Jewish tradition, though it is unclear exactly when or how this started, God makes a judgment on a person on the Feast of Trumpets and then a believer has the next nine days after that to seek a better verdict, days filled with soul-searching and introspection for a devout Jew. This is not a custom I am used to from my own practice, but it does appear rather appropriate for the times.
When this judgment first became apparent on the evening of the Feast of Trumpets, I was in a panic, not knowing exactly what had been done to merit such a response, because no one ever bothered to tell me (in fact, I still don’t know, though I have made a firm and clean confession of my own struggles and shortcomings and so my own conscience is clear). I could not sleep at all that night, wondering what had been done and what would be done. I considered there to be three options–I stay in Thailand, I am sent back dishonorably to the United States, or I end up being denounced for lese majeste and end up in prison. With these grim thoughts in my mind, no sleep was possible.
By the next morning, I figured it would be the middle option, and I felt resigned both to say my farewells to the students, expressing my regrets that I would (likely) be unable to stay and expressing my own concern for the and wishes for their well-being. My meeting, short as it was, did not clarify anything at all, except that I would be definitely leaving and soon and would be relieved of all further duties immediately. This I accepted, knowing that it is futile to argue with someone whose mind is already made up (regardless of the truth of the matter), and that anyone who did not appreciate the sincere and heartfelt service I had provided for more than a year on a dollar a day did not deserve any more of that service anyway.
Since then I have pondered whether the judgment was a bad one or a good one. It would appear to me that for whatever reason (and there are several possibilities), God has willed that I have spent enough time helping others and I need to help myself. And I do. Interestingly enough, I was thinking about this at the same time as one of my friends was, and we chatted about the exact same concerns, the need to achieve personal goals, spiritual goals, and emotional goals apart from the extreme pressure of life in isolation in a small Thai village with little personal interaction with friendly and loving people.
I think God had decided I had suffered enough stress and pressure in dealing with faulty communication, a lack of openness and honesty and transparency, and inadequate resources. Quite frankly, I need to take care of myself–find a good job, pay off my debts, find a good relationship, and so on. I’ve spent long enough helping others on a 24-7 basis for a while, and I know without a doubt that I am a responsible person capable of handling great pressure and rising to great challenges. With my honor confirmed, I can now look forward to taking care of business that needs to be taken care of in my personal and professional life.
In the course of my time in Thailand, I have found that certain very strong tendencies caused plenty of problems. My relationships with the opposite sex throughout my life have proven to be problematic, and that was no different here. Nothing more needs to be said about that at present. Likewise, my commitment to justice and truth, and holding leaders accountable for their actions, has come to the attention of international journalists dealing with Thai affairs, which I find at least a little bit alarming, given my personal obscurity. It is clear that my fatal combination of having an intense curiosity in questions of power and legitimacy and a complete disinclination to practice politics is a very serious and notable fact of my existence. The stakes of such issues may even be a life and death matter at this point, which make my reflections on these matters particularly important. How they are to be resolved lies in the hands of God alone, in whose way I walk.