I’m taking a nap on the sofa. Wyatt, my dog, is curled up behind my knees, napping with me.
The doorbell rings. Wyatt leaps into action, bouncing off of me on the way to the front door and barking like a junk yard dog. What a way to ruin a perfectly good nap.
“Wyatt, hush,” I say sternly, as I shuffle towards the door.
Wyatt seems to think I said “Come on, you can do better than that, bark louder, really put some feeling into it,” because that is what he does. I grab his collar with one hand and open the door with the other.
There’s a big bear of a man standing on my doorstep. There’s a bright red pickup at the curb. There are two surfboards in the back of the truck.
The visitor walks right in. Wyatt stops barking and transforms from a ferocious guard dog to an obsequious and submissive puppy. He’s practically groveling.
Just about now I get a good look at the object of Wyatt’s adoration.
Right here in my living room.
This isn’t God in some kind of disguise; like in stories where God shows up in other people’s lives. He’s not a homeless person seeking charity, he’s not an ugly old crone testing my perception of beauty, he’s not some abstract and unasked for life lesson here to teach me a thing or two. It’s God in all his glory. Don’t ask me to describe him, because I can’t do him justice. And the light and the colors and the sounds that swirl around him don’t have names; or at least not names that I know. Let’s just say that when I realized who it was I said “Mother of God!” followed by “Sweet Jesus!” and a “Holy S**t!” thrown in for good measure.
It turns out God has a sense of humor, or maybe he’s just very forgiving. I was not struck down by lighting.
“How have you been?” he asks, wrapping his arms around me in the biggest bear hug ever. God is a very good hugger.
“Uh…fine…great…how about yourself?” I can’t believe I just asked God such a stupid question. I feel like a total moron. God is in my living room.
“Well, I should probably be working out more, and I’ve got to slow down on the ice cream,” he says, patting his ample belly. “But I just tell myself every morning that today’s a new day, you know what I mean?” He laughs and the walls begin to vibrate.
God looks around the living room and smiles. “I love what you’re doing with this place."
I look around and think, this place is a mess. Half a dozen shoes piled by the door, a chewed up rawhide bone, one dirty sock, unopened mail spilling off the coffee table, and a skateboard in the middle of the floor.
You know when a friend shows up unexpectedly, and you haven’t bothered to clean the house in a while, and you start making excuses for the mess; like claiming that you’ve been out of town, or you’ve had the flu all week, or burglars broke in this morning and ransacked the place? Well, maybe you don’t do that; maybe that’s just me. I’m about to start making excuses when God walks into the kitchen, opens the freezer door and says, “Have you got any Ben and Jerry’s?”
“Ah, no, I finished that off last night,” I say, feeling guilty for all sorts of reasons. I’m a pig and now there’s no ice cream for God.
“Oh, yes, I remember. Cherry Garcia. That was so delicious,” God says. “Anyway, we don’t have much time. We have to get to the Big Island while the surf is still up.”
“What?” I ask.
“We’re going surfing. You’ve always wanted to do that, haven’t you? First though, it seems you have a couple of questions for me that have been rattling around in your head. Let’s see now…”
God reaches into his pocket and pulls out an extraordinarily long scroll of papyrus. For the first time I notice that God is wearing a very loud Hawaiian shirt. When I say loud, I mean it’s actually making sounds - crashing waves and ukuleles.
“Mmmm…” he says, scanning the list. “Ok, let’s do an easy one. ‘What would be a good prayer for times of difficulty?’ Let me ask you a question first. What do you mean by ‘times of difficulty’? ”
“Well, it could be a small irritation like my son and his friends having band practice in the basement when I’m in the middle of something important. I wish I could stay calm and peaceful even when my house is noisy.”
“You could ask them to stop.”
“But I don’t want them to stop. I just want to be unperturbed.”
“In that case, just say ‘Thank you’.”
“That’s it? Just ‘thank you’?”
“It really works. Try it sometime. Give me a bigger problem,” God says, grinning now like a clever school boy waiting for the teacher to call on him.
“Ok, let’s say I lose my job.”
“’Thank you’ still works.”
“What about natural disasters?”
“Are you serious?” I ask, frowning.
“That reminds me,” God says, reaching out to gently touch the spot in the center of my forehead, just above my eyes. “When you do that frowning thing, when you’re trying to figure something out, or when you doubt me, or yourself, or others, it makes lines right here, and that keeps me out of your head. It sort of cuts through our divine connection, so to speak. Here, let me erase those for you”.
And with that, he kisses me gently on the forehead. When God gets close I smell the ocean...and cocoanut scented sunscreen. There’s a slight popping sound inside my head, then a quiet hiss, almost like steam escaping. I catch a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror. I look twenty years younger. I feel lighter, happier, and more like myself.
“That’s better than botox!” I say.
“Yes, less expensive too,” says God. “Listen, we have to get going,” and with that he rolls up the scroll and stuffs it back in his pocket. “We’ll go over some of the other questions on the way to the beach.”
He’s halfway out the door. Wyatt is close behind him, sporting a tropical print bandana around his neck.
“I’ll be right there,” I say.
I grab a pen and add a note to the bottom of the grocery list.
Buy more ice cream.
You never know when God is going to drop in.