Evening. A ring at the doorbell.
A bit late for election canvassers.
I struggled out of the armchair and opened the front door.
There in the glow of the street-lamp, a smartly dressed woman with a warm smile on her face.
She knew, that I knew, who she was. I just knew. Don’t ask, somehow, I just knew.
It was God.
‘Can I come in, have a word…’
Sitting at the kitchen table, she peered into her mug of tea and then looked me straight in the eye.
‘Do you mind if I ask you a question…’
Before I could answer, she carried on;
‘On the way here, I came via the high street, a lot of the shops have closed since I was last here but what I noticed were the number of people sleeping in the shop doorways. Why is that?’
‘Why is that…’ God is asking me, why…
‘Well, you must know, you’re God…’
‘True, but I want you to tell me.’
She looked at me, directly and said;
‘No it’s not…’
I blurted, ‘Well, if you’re so worried about it, you’re God… you fix it.’
Not a great thing to say to God. There was a long pause and she said;
‘I have given everyone domain over their choices, you have all the resources of this wonderful world and you have intelligence, skills and the wherewithal. Why don’t you have the desire?’
‘We do, but it’s complicated.’
God folded her arms and leaned back in the chair.
‘I popped in to see an old friend. She lives just around the corner. She used to do the flowers at St Anne’s. She can’t get out much now. Doesn’t see anyone. A neighbour is acting for me. She’s an angel. Pops in. This dear lady used to get help from the council but they’ve stopped it. I wondered if you knew why?’
Of course I knew. And, God knew, I knew.
‘No… if you want to look after each other, you can. I’m not stopping you. You are inventing barriers, thresholds, policy gaps. You can do anything you like…’
God shifted on the kitchen chair, crossed her ankles, drew her legs under the chair and leaned forward, elbows on the table…
‘I saw on the news there are nearly five million people waiting for an operation in your health service. Why is that?’
‘It’s complicated….’ my voice tailed off. Not my greatest answer…
‘Tell me why it’s complicated? I have given you the skills, some of my brightest people and I’m rather pleased with the sense of vocation most of them have.’
‘It’s about the money…’
‘Why? You invented ‘money’, so you have it. You can chose to spend money on what you like. You can set the priorities.’
I stared at the floor and somehow, I heard myself saying;
‘Well what about a mass miracle, let them all go to bed and wake up in the morning cured…’
By the time I looked up, she was gone. Just the tea mug on the table.
The cat-flap rattled. The clatter woke me up. Tiger was off, for his night of who-knows-what.
I was slumped in the chair in front of the telly. The TV was still revolving the news. It was after midnight. I must have fallen asleep, been dreaming…
I flipped off the TV, turned out the lights and walked into the kitchen.
There was a mug of tea on the table. It was still warm.
Have a good weekend.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley