“When you’re deluded, every statement is an ulcer; when you’re enlightened, every word is wisdom.” ~ Zhiqu
“Alas! the world is full of enormous lights and mysteries, and man shuts them from himself with one small hand!” ~ Baal Shem Tov
In this day and age, in this world of hatred and hustle, untold numbers of people yearn for a sign; they yearn for an affirmation of their faith; they long to see a miracle. Of course there are the miracles that we all can witness daily in our lives: The birth of a baby; the blooming of a flower; the accident that should have been, but wasn’t. But we are talking today about the types of miracles that movies, legends and folklore and are made of. Fortunately — or unfortunately — there are people in this world who have been witness to these types of miracles. I know this to be true. And I say unfortunately because the miracle seems to always be preceded by some sort of disaster. Yet, when all else looks dark, it is grace or the hand of some unseen force that intervenes to make things right.
The most wasted of these types of miracles are the ones that happen right before our very eyes, yet we do not allow ourselves to recognize them for what they really are: A gift. A gift from someone, somewhere; a gift in and of themselves but also a gift in that we were allowed to be a part of and to share in them.
Tom White has written a new book called, Lost in the Texas Desert, that speaks of this kind of miracle that occurs in modern day Texas. Is the story in this book mere fantasy? Or is this book a parable about an event that, whether or not he consciously knew it, he had experienced himself? I tend to think the latter. In fact, I’m sure of it.
In the tradition of literature by and about great Eastern religious philosophy and philosophers, Lost in the Texas Desert takes the reader on a short, simple, seemingly ordinary event that turns into a nightmare but returns to everyday bliss through the workings and beliefs of the characters in the story. Is this book an affirmation of the Christian church, or is it an affirmation of another religion? Neither. It is an affirmation of truth.
The story, on its surface, seems like just that: a story. But a closer examination by the truly aware or by those who search for the truth, will reveal that the book is much more than that. This is not a book to be zipped through, but a book to be read and pondered. It is not to be washed down like some tap water, but to be sipped like Jasmine tea.
Tom White’s book will most certainly remind of the stories told of the deeds performed by Jesus in the New Testament of the bible. It was in the Book of Mark that Jesus performed many of his miracles. Some of those who witnessed these miracles refused to believe; some refused to see; and a few came to know. It was the ones that knew that Jesus commanded, “Tell no one.” Jesus knew what would happen to them. He knew that if you tell an unbeliever, or the unknowing, of the truth you will be castigated.
Lost in the Texas Desert is about two children who get lost from their relatives and experience the unexplainable in the expanse of the Texas desert. Time is lost. Hours turn into days and back again. When the children finally reach safety, their version of events defy all logic and beg disbelief. But it is here where enlightenment touches all involved.
The underlying message is very applicable to today’s United States and its people. After the disastrous events of September 11, the church saw a huge increase in attendance. People wanted God. They wanted to be close to God — but only when they feel God is useful to them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Soon the novelty wears off and they walk away. The great comedian Lenny Bruce once said, “Today, more and more people are walking away from the church and closer to God.” Now-a-days people in America walk away from the church and walk away from God. That’s where people, I find, are confused. God and the church are wholly separate entities.
Now, the entire world seems troubled by hypocritical Christians and Muslims. What’s the difference? There isn’t any really. Right wing zealots seem to have captured those religions. But, those who understand would know that there is a huge difference between God and religion. They are not one in the same. Many of the American Christian church cried out for war after September 11 because those who lead their flocks led them astray. The leaders of the American church saw the way things were going in the USA and jumped on the bandwagon in order to make money. What’s the difference between them and right wing Muslim zealots? None. They are all hypocrites.
Lost in the Texas Desert speaks of events and the pain and suffering of people in today’s world and our modern society. But, yet, Tom White never mentions them directly. He allows for the reader to find the truth in the few words he has written here.
As much as I had suspected half way through reading the book, Lost in the Texas Desert was much more than its cover revealed. This book and its story are very deep. Much too deep for many — but therein lies the beauty. Could this book be a modern-day Zen masterpiece?
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.