He sat, as he had every day after eating lunch. He unlocked the rocker hinge on his office chair, placed his hands behind his head, leaned back and sat with his eyes close. He seldom so much as twitched. The others were yakking about the game last night, which was of no interest to her.
She said to him, “How come you never talk about yourself? Everyone else does; it’s how we get to know each other. Why are you so mysterious?”
His eyes opened and turned toward her. “Have I been rude?” His question was genuine, but utterly devoid of emotion.
“No. I don’t mean that. You just never show any feelings. I mean, you smile at some things, and you ask some of the most interesting questions, but you seldom give a direct answer to anything when people ask you.” The low level of exasperation was plain in her voice.
Having moved his hands from behind his head, he sat with his elbows resting on the arms of the chair. Raising his hands to face each other, he lightly pressed opposing fingertips, digits splayed apart, and tilted the joined index fingers against his lips. While it was only a few seconds, the pause seemed eternal to her.
“It’s not about me,” he said finally.
She stared in surprise. “What is that supposed to mean?”
He still had has fingertips together, but held them just above his lap. “Do you notice I never ask for personal information? Only clarification to make sure I understand what someone has said. You are free to reveal whatever you wish, or nothing at all. It’s not that I don’t care, obviously, or I would not be working here. It’s that I care about something else far, far more.”
She tilted her head to one side, puzzled. “I know you don’t take this job seriously. You’ve said that much. And you don’t sit in the lotus position on the floor through lunch like that guy from India, so can I at least ask what does matter to you?”
With a half-smile, he turned and made eye contact with her. “The guy from India would understand better than anyone born here in the US. I am most certainly otherworldly, just not from the same culture as he. I don’t need the lotus position to meditate.”
“So you’re some kind of mystic, too? You ain’t sleeping, but meditating when you close your eyes and sit still?”
“Maybe some of both,” he said with that enigmatic faint smile. “Dreams can reveal much to you about your own subconscious.”
“But why ain’t you trying to talk us all into it? Rajee was more evangelistic about Krishna than most Baptists are about Jesus.”
The faint smile faded completely from his lips. “Would you be any more likely to listen? The real truth won’t fit into any neat packages. If I talk about Jesus, you’ll assume you already understand and fill in the blanks with your own background on the subject. You know the words, but you don’t use them the same way I do, so speaking would only confuse the issue.”
“Oh, you mean like the Mormons? They use the same words as the other churches do, but trick you because they mean something different.” Her disgust was painfully obvious.
Again the half-smile. “Truth cannot hitch a ride with deception.” He sat up fully and locked his chair upright. “I’m not important; truth is. The government has a silly cheap imitation in the phrase, ‘need to know.’ If you are open to the truth, you don’t need words. All you need from me is an expression of that truth. If that truth calls to you, then your response will put you in the place to know more about me. Otherwise, you can’t know much about me at all.”
She paused, her face blank as her mind chewed on this. “So … if I get it — this truth — what would we talk about?”
“The purpose in fellowship is learning how to bring that truth to life, to compare notes. Once truth comes to life in your soul, you spend the rest of your days making conscious the vast ocean of things most humans take for granted, things of which they are seldom conscious. You can’t live truth if you buy into every assumption this world has, because the fundamental truth about this world is that it’s a lie.” Part of her noticed he was totally earnest without much emotion.
Several long minutes passed. Tilting her head on one side again, “So you do that on purpose? You self-consciously keep from getting involved to provoke that sense of mystery?”
This time he actually smiled fully. Turning to gaze directly in her eyes, “Now you know me.”