“Excuse me, sir. What are you thinking? Ma’am, what is going on in that mind and heart of yours?”
No matter where I sit or stand or walk at the fairgrounds, streams of humanity flow past me. Each face, each life, each experience of every person is different. Each mind thinks, each heart feels different thoughts and feelings. Watching me carry on my life, no one would guess what tumult rumbles in my heart and in my brain. Just so, I wonder what other people are experiencing and thinking deep inside where they cannot even put thoughts into words.
That elderly man with the cane sitting in the sun on the bench – what is he thinking? Is he grateful for the warmth, or does the heat burn him? Is he remembering his own youth? What kind of memories are those? Is he peacefully enjoying the day or does loneliness pain him as he observes the families go past?
That young lady strolling along with the tall lad at her side – what does she feel? Is the boy her brother, her friend, possibly a suitor or fiancée? Is her heart secretly swelling for joy at his presence, though she will not show it? He whispers something, and she laughs mirthfully. What was the thought that produced such laughter? Was it the content of what he said, or the very fact that he spoke? Does he understand and share her joy? What is he thinking? Are the scents of greasy fried-food tantalizing his nostrils and stomach bringing back thoughts of years past, or do they nauseate him with the thought of impending heartburn?
The child racing past, weaving in and out of the fair-going traffic – why is he running? Does his heart race with fear that he will miss his show? Has he already had many problems in this day? Is he struggling against tears? Does he remember the kindness of God or has he never even heard of Christ’s free forgiveness? Or is he possibly only thinking of his awaiting lunch? And what about his lunch? Is he hoping that the sandwiches are peanut butter and jelly or is he harboring a hope for greasy, hot corndogs? Why does he want a corn dog? Is there some sort of status or satisfaction that comes from eating corndogs?
The family going by – what are they all thinking? The frazzled mother – is she thinking about where all her children are at every given moment, in addition to trying to locate displayed projects and deciding what to cook up for supper? Is she wishing her husband would reach the fairgrounds soon? Is she worried about animal care and showing, or has she only brought her young’uns to view the projects of other children? The girl pestering her to go to the circus – why does she want to see the circus so badly? What does the word “circus” mean to her? Has she waited all year for the moment of the circus?
The young couple walking yonder hand in hand, the wife obviously expecting soon, what are they thinking? Is the father’s heart full with the wonder of his soon-to-be-revealed son or daughter? When he smiles down at her, is he thinking of how he can serve her this day? When he furrows his brow, is he thinking of a recent argument, bad news from his boss, a sick parent?
And how many of these people are pondering philosophical questions of worldview even if they do not know it? How many are longing for love? How many are eaten away at by guilt? How many are worried about the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next year? How many have no idea what the future holds for them and look on it with terror? How many are plagued with worry over the things of this world which do not satisfy? How many rest secure in the forgiveness of sins?
I wish people would share their mind more often, at least when their thoughts can benefit others. But sharing one’s thoughts doesn’t seem to be very “acceptable” currently: for one thing, it’s dangerous when you are worried about protecting yourself from others, for another, it often makes other people uncomfortable. I, myself, have been scolded for sharing my thoughts too freely. A good portion of that body of scolding is justified; another portion I cannot understand and it saddens me.
I often wonder what my siblings are thinking. Silence can be a good thing, but frequently I wonder as the room grows still, what are they thinking? What are my family members trying to express? Why do they respond in that way to that comment? How do my action influence their thoughts?
It is mind-boggling to think of how many thoughts are going on at the same time when you survey humanity streaming past. All of those minds, no matter how limited they be, are precious – even that of the disabled boy who introduced himself to us during lunch. It’s also mind-boggling how God knows all those thoughts and cares for each person at every moment.
It is hard enought to understand my own thoughts and feelings. I am so glad that what I think and feel doesn't determine my identity. I am baptized: I am a child of God! I am so glad that I do not have the burden of never being sure of my salvation as the Roman Catholic gentleman Anan and I talked to today. My salvation is not dependent upon me saying "Yes" to Jesus every moment of my life. My salvation was "signed when our Redeemer died, sealed when He was glorified!"