The God I deserve…
Anyway, not much to report, unless a visit from God is worth a mention. He came in the direction of Maui’s south shore, flying His Stearman 70 (would you expect God to fly anything else?) toward the Big Island. I can’t say I’ve been waiting for Him, even after I’d written a letter to His office asking for an audience.
The thing is, well there’s more than one God, right? So in my request I said, just send me the God I deserve. I dreamt I was down in in the books to arrive at the Pearly Gates sooner than later, so I suggested that maybe we could talk about that, being as I’m so far behind in my work. I mean, look, if we are set upon the earth to do deeds, then in all honesty I’m so far behind in my work I will live forever.
I reminded them how I’ve saved a whale or two, raised a child to manhood, written a song for an angel, flown a few poems here and there, and made up stories that have captured people’s hearts. In the light of this, would they send me what they considered the appropriate God.
I have to admit, the God they sent wasn’t quite what I had in mind. There was no blue of eye, no locks of hair falling to his shoulders, not even a white nightshirt. So, you’re probably wondering how I knew it was God at all?
Look, there have been great pilots, some even made astronauts, but none of them, not a single one, could have landed a Stearman, with its immaculate twelve-cylinder rotary engine, and without a single splattered insect on its prop, not even a splash of oil on the engine cowling, on a path of volcanic rock.
He wore a long leather coat, a leather flying hat, goggles, and stepped, shoeless, from the open cockpit. The first thing He did was light a cigarette, a Marlboro. It was then I noticed the scars in the palms of his hands.
Convincing enough, right?
Wow, is this yours? I asked, looking over the airplane’s handsome lines. Which, on reflection, was a ridiculous question because it wasn’t mine. They stopped building the Stearman sixty years ago, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t the very best airplane ever built, with an engine that sang a hymn every time it was fired up.
The open cockpit and the sweep of the wing made it a plane fit for a God…and here He was. God, in my garden.
He smiled, yes, the kind of smile that ripped your heart open with its kindness. He tossed the cigarette to one side of His mouth and let it dangle there while he flashed a flame all around it.
You know who I am? He asked, puffing smoke into the air. The man had just landed His Stearman on Volcanic rock! It could only be Him. And don’t forget, I had sought an audience with an appropriate God, one based on my life’s experiences, so to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a perfect God anyway.
True to form, this one had some rough edges.
He accepted my invitation to have coffee. I looked a bit fearful, is it my time? I wondered. An hour passed. We finished our coffee and went out to look again at the most beautiful piece of machinery ever built by any mere mortal’s hand.
Now, and I say this in all honesty, this is a God with whom I can get along. He drew on a fresh cigarette. I looked at Him, surprised. He knew what was on my mind and answered, the job’s enough to make anyone smoke, and drink!
I laughed, I guess it is.
We shook hands and bid our farewells.
Climbing into the cockpit of the airplane, He leaned back and spat on the rock. A flower blossomed. The Stearman broke into life with a puff of smoke from the exhausts and purred its perfection.
He wrapped a white silk scarf around his neck and put his hands to the controls, don’t forget, you’re not sure of yourself right now, but you’ve done enough to become an angel. You can start your apprenticeship with a famine or something. He raised his arm, and in a whir of timeless simplicity, sped across a thousand years of volcanic lava and rose into the sky…circling over my head.
I wanted to ask Him if there’s a Heaven? I put my hands cupping my mouth, and screamed, are you Sully Sullenberger?
I thought he hadn’t heard me, then, written in smoke across the sky were the words…not yet!