I met God the other day.
She was riding on my metro car, sitting next to me by the window.
I know what you are thinking – how the heck did you know it was God?
Well, I didn’t, at the beginning. She looked like a tired young lady just trying to get home after a long day’s work between Christmas and New Year. She touched my arm and said, “I know you. Actually, I used to know you quite well, but you’ve dropped out of my life lately. I haven’t seen you around anywhere.”
I did not recognize her at all, and said so immediately. And I made clear that I was an expat and had been traveling around the world for the last few years, so it made sense to me that she would have missed me – if it was true that we had ever known each other in the first place.
She looked me in the eye and said quietly, “You have never seen me before. I am God. That’s why I know you but you don’t know me.”
“God?” I said. “God Almighty? Maker of Heaven and Earth and inspirator of the Bible?”
“Yes”, was her simple reply. “And I can prove it to you”.
She leaned over and whispered in my ear for about thirty seconds. And what she told me was so fantastic in the absolutely unbelievable sense of the word that my doubts about this little woman being God Almighty melted away like the proverbial snowball in hell.
“But how could you have not seen me these last years?” I wondered aloud. “I’ve been that tall redhead in China surrounded by crowds of curious children who just want to touch my hair. I was the only white person in that African village, the only gringo in that South American bar. I could understand being missed if I had been living in Ireland, but your tracking skills, however you pull that off, have let you down big time.”
“I’ve had other things to do this year,” she said. “The NSA has made my job a lot easier recently, I only have to go down to one place to find and follow anyone I need to see. My work load will be a lot lighter in the future.”
“Yeah, I’m not too happy about that,” I replied. “But I do like the Pope Francis thing you did this year. He’s a popular guy, what with that ‘not judging’ and ‘trickle down economy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’ stuff. You really pulled off a pretty good PR stunt there.”
“Thank you. I’ll pass the compliment on to my guys who worked on that.”
“And I guess you had to take Nelson Mandela. His passing sure gave the world an amazing 10 days. Did you have anything to do with that sign language interpreter guy?”
She smiled. “Of course not. That you would even ask! By the way, how’s 2013 been for you?”
“Not bad, thank you for asking. I ended my stay in China and moved on to Argentina. Did you know China was ranked as the #1 expat location by the HSBC Expat survey this year? It’s booming economically and is a great place for a good work-life balance. And a surprisingly good place to raise children
I’m not so sure about Argentina, I’m still finding my way around. The economic situation isn’t so great, but that makes the cost of living a bit cheaper, if you are careful. What I really love already so far is the entertainment. It’s wonderful!”
“Glad to hear that. I’ve always enjoyed those local South American bars, restaurants and night clubs myself, when I have a chance to get there, which hasn’t happened this year. It’s been a frustrating year for me. You people can’t seem to get the economy going in the West, and the wars in Syria and Sudan leave me disgusted.”
“I was going to ask you about that. Why don’t you do something about war, starvation, sickness, AIDS, poverty etc?”
“Actually, I came here to ask you the same question. When are you all going to do something about those problems, for Heaven’s sake? I’ve given you all the smarts and resources you need. You’ve landed a little car on the moon this year, and cloned human stem cells. Those of you that have garbage disposals throw enough food down them to feed millions of poor people. I’m not blaming you personally for that, because you don’t have a garbage disposal. But when are you going to get your act together, and why are you waiting for me to do something? You know I don’t work that way!”
“Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I was figuring that you as God Almighty could just reach down and fix things for us. Are you on Twitter yet?”
“Well there are a couple of impostors pretending to be me: @TheTweetOfGod, @god, @TheGoodGodAbove, @GodPosts. I see they all have thousands of followers, so I must be popular. There is talk of a Twitter Bible, but I think that is fake also. Sounds like fun, though:
In the beginning, God tweeted:
Day 1: Lighting system installed. BRB.
Days 2-6: Some assembly required: sky, plants, cows, people. Left humans in charge, LOL.
Day 7: Siesta
But no, I’m not on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or You Tube. I have been investigating Mashable lately. Sounds like a concept I could use, but I don’t really understand how it works. It’s a generation thing, I’m afraid.
Anything I can do for you or expats in general in 2014?”
“As soon as I found out who you were I was going to mention a few things. We don’t like Christmas when it is hot. Sometimes it’s impossible to get the sports or TV shows we like. Skype is great for communicating back home, but it doesn’t substitute for a real hug. Homesickness is an issue, as well as the Centigrade/Fahrenheit thing. And the language problem is killing us. Why couldn’t you have thought of another solution to the Tower of Babel problem?”
“Sorry about the Babel thing. I acted in haste and regret it now, but once the deed was done there was no turning back….”
I interrupted. (Imagine that, interrupting God Almighty!) “But all those things seem a bit petty now. I feel kind of bad even mentioning them.”
God gave me a friendly wink, touched my arm again and said, “Well here’s my stop. Got to get off. I enjoyed chatting with you. Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014! And – make a difference this year, OK?”
And with that, God got off the bus, opened her umbrella, gave a short wave and smile and disappeared in the crowd.
I wondered whether I’d ever see her again. I hoped so.
I resolved that if we did meet again I would be able to tell her that I had. Made a difference, that is.
Contributed by Norman Viss, an expatriate coach who has many years of broad international experience working with people from a wide variety of cultures, including a 10 year span of living in Nigeria, West Africa, and 22 years in the Netherlands. Currently he lives in the Philadelphia, USA and blogs at the Everyday Expat Support Center