I am a pilot. My job is to steer planes through the immense expanse of skies, from one place to another. The very lives of people are in my hands. In that sense, you can even call me God! However, what I am going to tell you is beyond question the most bizarre tale you have ever heard in your life. It is about a man I once met at the arrival terminal. I used to see him standing alone at the same place and time, every evening as I went home after my duties as a pilot. It was in the third week of that most memorable month that I finally decided to make the acquaintance of the strangest, maddest, simplest, wisest, and the most literally logical man I ever had the fortune to meet in my life. As a pilot, I have been to many places in the world and met all kinds of people. Still, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the man I met at the arrival terminal is the man whom I will remember till my dying day.
That evening I had an urge to talk to him. I approached him and asked, “I see you every day. May I know what are you doing here? Are you waiting for someone?”
“Yes. I am waiting for God,” he replied with a smile beaming from his friendly face.
“God? Do you mean the god God? The one we worship, pray to, and think of every now and then with such unutterable obsession?” I rejoined, flummoxed.
“Yes. Yes! He’s the one I’m waiting for!” he said, his baritone voice shaking with excitement.
“Really? Do you mean the creator of the universe? Our father in heaven? The mysterious being in the sky who has the power over one and all?” I shot back, unable to hold back my sarcasm.
My remark did not discomfit him. Rather he remained cool and collected, and said, “Yes, you are right, my man. He is the very person I am waiting for.” What I said had perked him up further, as though I had added spice to what was bland and anemic before.
My funny bone was tickled but suppressing my laughter, I asked, “May I know why He would be arriving at this airport?”
“Precise question, my man. Precise question!” The words leaped from his mouth, as though he had been marking time, hanging around twiddling his thumbs, ever in readiness for the very question I had asked him.
He continued, “You do accept that God, Our Father, the Great Being, dwells in the sky, right?”
“Yes of course. That is His home.” By now, I had decided to indulge him.
“Is it not then logical to expect Him to descend to earth in an airplane?” He was all smiling.
I burst out laughing. His cheerfulness was so contagious, it was difficult not to humor him. “He could also use a rocket, a spaceship perhaps?”
“You are a very smart man!” He rubbed his hands and appeared very satisfied with my questions and replies. “But let me tell you that I have already been to the launching station. And the people in that place are not as friendly as the ones here. In fact, they were very rude and threw me out of the premises when I told them the reason for my presence there.”
“Yes, that clarifies why you are at the airport.” I smiled at the peculiar logic of this strange man.
“I have answered the first part of your excellent question. You must be very eager to know why I chose this particular airport, right?” he said, all fired up and ready to go.
“Yes, indeed! I am all ears! What makes my airport so special to the Lord that he chooses it for His arrival?” By now, this unusual man was beginning to interest me and his eccentric logic had tickled my fancy.
“Exactly, my man, exactly. Indeed, your airport is not special at all. After all, it is just another airport, the same as any other airport in the world. But to the Lord, every one of his devotees is unique and special. And when His devotee yearns to meet Him from the depths of his heart, just as I do, the Lord will make His appearance at the nearest airport so as to not inconvenience His beloved suffering devotee!” He looked at me, his eyes shining with triumph, and made a strange gesture as though he was placing a feather in his own cap.
I was completely amazed at his ridiculous logic and his odd but endearing self-congratulatory manner of speaking. I was very interested in listening to him further. However, I had to wake up early for duty the next morning, so I took leave of the weirdest man I had ever met in my life. Before parting, I gave him my word that I would be glad to continue the conversation the following day if he wished.
“Certainly, my man, certainly. Until tomorrow then!” he said as we bid goodbye.
The next day when I was relieved of my duties, I rushed to meet him. He was there at his usual place. He was glad to see me approaching.
“Good evening, my man! You seem to be in haste to meet the good Lord yourself!” He grinned with infectious delight.
I gave him my biggest smile and told him that I would not dare miss such a wonderful opportunity.
“An excellent choice, my man. An excellent choice!” he said, buzzing with excitement.
“You bet!” I could not curb myself and was altogether caught up in the moment.
Then he said in a soft murmur of a voice, as though he was dreaming and lost in thought, “My man, it was not always at the airport that I sought for a meeting with the dear Lord.”
“Oh, is that so? Where else have you waited for him?” I asked. I was already becoming almost as serious as him.
“In the beginning, I searched for the Lord as everyone else does. You have sought him yourself, haven’t you?” he asked, looking at me, his eyes peering into mine.
I fumbled to answer because I was not a particularly religious person.
“No, no. I am unable to answer your question. I’m sorry to say that I have not given much thought to where one can meet the Lord,” I replied, lowering my eyes to the ground, as a sudden twinge of guilt made my voice tremble.
“Is that so? You must be living a very tedious life!” He said, shaking his head in disapproval.
Then he proceeded to tell me, “At first, I sought the Lord in the same manner as others. That is in the temple, the church, the mosque, and the synagogue. Once I even went to the cemetery. As you must be aware, there are also such strange people in the world who worship the dead more than the living!” He paused. His facial muscles twitched and his delicate features convulsed in horror and revulsion as if he was sick to the pit of his stomach.
When he regained his sangfroid, he said, “But I digress. Before long I accepted that my visit to the cemetery was a very dumb idea and mightily disrespectful of the Lord, our Creator, our Sustainer, our dear Father.” His eyes were flushed with tears as he spoke the last line. He bowed his head for a while as though he was repenting for his sin of visiting the cemetery in search of God. His humble behavior was very touching, and I felt a pang in my heart.
Then he resumed his story.
“You cannot begin to count the numberless hours I spent among those walls, among those stones, among those vast chambers looking for God, waiting for Him. I searched every nook and corner of the buildings, those places of worship, which even though were cramped with people, his many devotees, didn’t hinder my search for Him. I, His lowly and humble servant, searched on, dogged, and ever diligent.” A great determination enveloped every word he spoke as he recounted his search for God in the houses of worship.
“One day, exhausted from this tiresome quest for the Lord, which had fatigued my body to the point of breakdown- as I had been without food and water for many days, because of my fervent desire to succeed in this venture- I suddenly started shouting and screaming in frustration at my failure. I howled His name, I called for Him with all the strength I could muster in my lungs, but all to no avail. The Lord refused to answer, though not His hoard of devotees. Those vile and servile mindless followers of my Master, they grabbed me by the arms, dragged me away and pushed me out of the Lord’s house, my rightful abode beside my Father. They threw me out, His crying child, into the lonely and loveless streets. My tears, my wounds deeper and redder than the blood in my heart, were wasted and my Father had forsaken me. He did not lift His hand when His child was tortured and dismissed from His house of refuge and tenderness.” He was so anguished that the corners of his mouth drooped and his lips quivered as he recounted the events.
It was painful to witness the man, who was so exuberant a while ago, go through such suffering. At that moment, I felt out of sorts myself.
In a short time, he continued, “I wondered which parent would stay silent when his child suffers at the hands of evil men and women. For many days I pondered this question and I came to the same conclusion, every single time, that the Lord had abandoned me. However, I refused to accept it!”
All of a sudden his face brightened up, like the peeping of the sun from behind the clouds after a fit of rain, and he said, “Then one day, it dawned on me that He had not let go of my hand at all. It was just that I had never held His hand!”
He looked so delighted to make that disclosure, I could not help but beam at his infectious happiness.
Throwing his hands in the air, he continued, “My man, I was looking at the wrong place for my Father. I tell you that day, I wept. Tears flowed down from the depths of my soul for the great sin I had committed against God by seeking Him in the temple. What a fool I was to search for Him among the walls! You know that only the thieves, the robbers, the murderers, and the lowest of lowly men are confined among the prison of four walls, right? For an entire night, I begged for forgiveness from my Father for committing such a grave error. I decided those places of worship are, in fact, evil and God cannot live there, that my Father cannot make His abode in that dreadful place.” He glanced at me, as though he needed my confirmation. I nodded in agreement.
“When the morning came, I was rapturous because I realized the Lord was everywhere except at that vile place I had sought Him earlier. That very day I proceeded to look for Him in every nook and cranny. His omnipresence meant I would be meeting Him any moment. The anticipation of coming face to face with Him made me dance with joy.” A look of sheer bliss and exhilaration spread through his face, like fire spreading through dry timber, and his whole body shuddered in reciprocal response.
I was shaking like a leaf myself, and with bated breath asked him, “So were you able to meet the Lord, then?”
“Do not make haste, my man. Do not make haste. Good things come to people who have the patience to wait. And what is better in this world to look forward to than the good Lord Himself?” He bowed his head as if to ask for forgiveness that such a thought as something better than the Lord would enter his mind, even for one single second.
“So tell me what happened next?” I asked, trying to draw him out of his momentary search for absolution.
He looked up at me, as though he was thrown off balance. “Where was I? Oh yes! That day, I scoured every street in town with meticulous detail. I looked at every building and house, each shop and establishment, even the parks and the ponds, and among the trees and the animals, yet I could not see Him anywhere.” He was down in the mouth and wore a long face. He had fallen into his abrupt low spirits again.
But he recovered his high spirits in no time and continued, “It was already night when exhausted from the futile search and about to break down, I realized it was because my eyes were weak that I could not see Him. The same way as our eyes cannot see in the dark, if they are ill-equipped to see the Lord, we cannot see Him, right? So I immediately resolved to make an appointment with the ophthalmologist the very next day.” He finished with a victorious flourish, almost jumping with joy.
extraordinary man with his lunatic logic and his quixotic search for God fascinated me to the core. I asked him, “Tell me, what happened at the doctor’s place. I am itching to know!”
He waited a while, before replying with great melancholy. “My man, it saddens me to tell you that my meeting with the doctor was a disappointment. When the doctor examined my eyes and declared there was nothing wrong with them, I was surprised by his disclosure. I told him that I cannot see Him. The good doctor was bewildered and asked if I really could not see him (the doctor). I replied I could perfectly see the good man but I could not see our good Lord. The doctor appeared hesitant for a while. Then he handed me a visiting card and declared he was not the right doctor to help me, but he had a well-known friend who would be glad to be of my assistance. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked him from the bottom of my heart before leaving the place.
“Soon, I was at the well-known friend of the good doctor. He turned out to be a psychiatrist. Now, for reasons that are very painful to recall, I cannot share my experiences there with you. My man, all I can tell you is that for many days I had to live at the mercy of some of the vilest humans to have walked this Earth. Suffice to say that if the Devil ever took human form, He would come as a psychiatrist!” he pronounced with immense conviction.
I could see tears in the man’s eyes. I refrained from questioning him further about the delicate matter.
He was quiet for a few moments. Then he continued in his customary rapid and earnest manner.
“Seeing as much evil as I’ve seen in this all-consuming quest for the Lord, I soon came to the conclusion that the world was somehow turned topsy-turvy. The good are punished and the bad are rewarded. The innocent suffer and the corrupt prosper. Seeing this, I decided the world was indeed built in God’s image, although by a strange trick of the Devil, it was, in fact, a mirror image! That is why everything in this world appears so all too familiar and yet distorted!” he concluded with great gusto.
I could not help but be happy for the peculiar man and his extraordinary logic. I smiled at him in approval.
“At that moment I was struck by a brilliant idea. The solution to the God problem, as I had come to define the search in my mind, lay in the mirror. Yes, that commonplace everyday object that we so conveniently use to stroke our vanity! I was certain our self-absorption was the very reason we were not able to see the Lord in the mirror!” He announced, his face contorted with extreme elation.
He proceeded, with extreme agitation, “I was so excited I rushed to the only mirror I had in my house. I stood there and gazed at myself, the lowly and humble seeker of the Lord. Still, try as hard as I could, I failed to see Him!”
Dejection was written all over on his face, and his lips trembled. I looked at him, trying to convey with my gaze that I felt his pain. He must have understood, for he proclaimed, “Then it occurred to me that in a topsy-turvy world it was impossible for the little devotee to reflect the great Lord.”
His face had now changed to joy again. “By and by, I stumbled upon a remarkable solution to the problem of finding the Lord in the mirror. I reasoned, in an upside-down world, God himself should be sought in an upside-down manner. It was logical then that if a dog stood in front of a mirror he will reflect God!”
Now his excitement was peaking again. “Elated at this eureka moment, I rushed to the street where every dog, young and old, was my good friend. Needless to say, all of them were very eager to assist me in fulfilling my long-standing quest for the Lord. Soon, a dog, her name was Rusee, blessed be that gentle creature, was standing in front of my mirror. Unfortunately, all she did was bark!”
He appeared disappointed. “I was certain there was somebody inside, otherwise why would that simple soul bark so much? After a while, she stopped and decided to leave me alone with my mirror. I was not angry at her because I was intelligent enough to realize I was stupid to seek her cooperation. Such a great being as God cannot be reflected by so humble a creature as the dog. I wept and sought the Lord’s forgiveness for the rest of the day and night,” he concluded, his eyes moist and trembling.
I must confess that this simple madman’s narration affected me so much I had to make a supreme effort not to weep with him.
He paused here for some time. Then he said, “After the debacle of the dog and the mirror, I stayed in my bed gazing at the ceiling, unable to sleep, pondering on the God problem. I decided to go about it in a systematic manner, using the scientific method. You know from facts to experiments, to deductions. You are a clever man, I am certain you do not need any further explanations about the proper way of arriving at solutions to vexing problems.”
He looked at me and smiled. I smiled back, and told him, “Yes, I am aware of it. In fact, I need to apply it to my everyday job as a pilot. You arrive at conclusions from facts, through observations. It is similar to plotting the route between destinations before a flight.” I grinned from ear to ear. I must tell you I was astonished to hear myself uttering those words. I was sure something of the man’s quaint and charming logic had rubbed off on me.
He was thoroughly satisfied with my statement and gushed forth, “My man, the data and deductions we have gathered and made so far are that the Lord does not reside in the temple, He is outside of it, that is to say, He is everywhere (except the place of worship built by His vile horde). We also know we cannot see the Lord, though He is everywhere, because of the simple fact of the failure of our ocular apparatus. That is, our eyes lack the technical capacity to envision Him. We also know our doctors are not competent enough to be of any help in this most grave matter. Moreover, we also know some doctors are, in fact, the Devil himself in disguise!”
He looked at me as though He had made a great discovery and was seeking my applause. Electrified, in a strange manner, by his emotions, I proceeded to praise him for the precise and logical nature of his deductions.
“Sir, you have done masterfully so far, I am indeed astounded by your brilliance!” The words came out of my mouth of their own accord, without my awareness, so contagious was the man’s quest and desire to meet God.
He grinned, very appeased with my remarks. “My man, we also know the Devil has played his dirty trick in God’s mighty work, and hence the world appears distorted, yet familiar. Exactly as in a mirror. We also know our experiment to reveal God in the mirror has failed to succeed. My man, you are very smart. I assume you have already stumbled upon the reason for our failure, right?”
I shook my head and said, “I am sorry to disappoint you, I have not been able to make out why the mirror job failed.”
“Do not be sorry, my man, do not be sorry. The reason for the failure is very simple. It is because the Devil is up to his tricks again! In his cunning way, he has, in fact, placed another mirror (invisible) beside the mirror of the world, so as to hinder a pure and diligent devotee like me in finding God! As you know well, my man, two mirrors in parallel will reflect an infinite number of images. Therein lies the masterstroke of the Devil, he has not only turned the world topsy-turvy but also made it an illusion! All from the simple use of mirrors, which any child would have done a countless number of times during his playtime!” He finished with an extraordinary flourish, waving his hands in the air. He appeared very satisfied with his conclusion.
“Do not be hasty, my man, to marvel at my logic. Let me astound you further by revealing to you the manner in which I finally solved the God problem!” he added quickly.
He was so enthralled I worried he might throw a fit in his excitement. I nudged him on, taking care not to add to his delirious agitation. “So how did you finally solve it? I am dying to know!”
“I will tell you, my man. The solution is very simple. Since the Devil has conjured up his tricks and made the world an illusion with the aid of parallel mirrors, it stands to reason that the only way to find God is to pull yourself out of the mirror trap. Outside the bewitching of the mirrors, you are free to dispel the illusory nature of reality. And the only way to do it is to close your eyes. With your eyes closed, you will escape the traps set by the Devil and become free from his clutches. And that is the way to find the Lord, with your eyes closed, away from all the distractions of this phantasmic world!” He clapped his hands and cooed, thrilled with his deductions.
I was happy, in an odd way, for this affable madman and asked him, “So how did you come to the airport?”
The man had descended to his abrupt low-spirits again. He mumbled, “There are too many obstacles in the path of the pilgrim who searches for God. Of course, they are essential to test his faith. From that moment on, I went about seeking the Lord with my eyes squeezed shut. I walked the streets, the alleys, and byways, the parks, even the busy roads of the highway. I wandered long in earnest, and even though I did not meet the Lord, He took care of me. I did not fall or injure myself, nor did I bump into His numerous horde of vile devotees, who took care not to approach anywhere near me. It was obvious a pure devotee like me would have repelled them, in their anguish that my purity would contaminate their corruption!”
The look on the madman’s face was so profound, it affected me to the depths of my soul. It was a haunting mixture of sorrow and joy, and I felt immense compassion for this artless and affable man, suffering in his dreadful isolation and rejection from the world with his steadfast stoicism. I put my arms around the man to comfort him.
He was soon pepped up and on fire again, and continued narrating his story. “One night, lying in bed after a hard day’s work of searching for the Lord, the fierce light of inspiration brightened my mind once more. It occurred to me since I had failed to find the Lord in my waking hours, it would be prudent of me to look for Him in my sleep. It would not violate my last deduction, that is, the necessity of closed eyes to find the Lord. I was very delighted and contented that night. All these days I was searching for Him at the wrong place, using the wrong techniques. All I had to do was sleep and wait for the Lord to appear to me, to make His presence felt, in my dreams. It was then that, after a few nights of sleeping like a well-fed infant in his mother’s arms, the Lord appeared in my dreams and spoke to me and told me to wait for him at the airport!” His face glowed with rapture as though he had seen the Lord in reality.
I was glad at this transformation and joined him in his transports.
“I asked the good Lord why He wanted me to go to the airport. He smiled and caressed my head, His gentle hands stroking my hair. At that moment, I burst out in laughter and begged the Lord for His forgiveness. In an instant, I had realized my blunder. I told God, ‘Yes, my Lord, how else would You come to Earth from Heaven, except in an airplane! Or a rocket perhaps?’ At that, He smiled and winked at me and disappeared. That morning when I woke up, I was overjoyed and decided to wait for Him at the rocket launching pad. And you know the rest!”
I gazed at him in amazement. His face was overflowing with many emotions, all at once.
The hour was late. I was so engrossed in the man’s story I had forgotten about my duty the following day. Indeed, because of the absorbing nature of our conversation, I almost lost my job as I was late the next morning. As luck would have it, the flight was delayed for other reasons as well. I got away with a mild reprimand from the chief. Through all the trips that day, I was completely lost in thoughts of the strange madman and his bewildering quest for God. With bated breath, I looked forward to our meeting that evening.
When I arrived at the terminal, the man was waiting for me. I was shocked and saddened to hear him tell me that he would no longer be coming to the airport. I asked him if he had given up his quest for the Lord.
He said, “I’ve been wrong again to seek Him at the airport. I don’t know why the Lord tricked me. I am sure He had a lesson for me. Or perhaps, it was the Devil in my dream. The Lord does not wink at his devoted disciple, does he? It must have been the Devil in my dream! I am certain it was him!” He looked at me for affirmation, his meek eyes full of appeal. I smiled and nodded to show I concurred with him.
Then he burst out with passionate ebullience, “If the Lord is everywhere, it is not possible for Him to come here, right? Because it stands to logic that if He appears here, He cannot be everywhere at the same time. So if in my waiting, if a person appears claiming to be God, he must be an impostor. In fact, he must be the Devil himself! Hence I have decided to stop waiting for the Lord at this place of illusions! I will go back to my room and re-double my efforts to solve the God problem!” He rubbed his hands and appeared ecstatic at his conclusion.
Needless to say, it was so contagious, I felt ecstatic myself.
An enormous surge of sentiment overcame him, and all of a sudden the madman clasped me to his bosom, in a tight embrace. “Goodbye, my man. Beware of the impostors. Look out for the Devil, and wish me loads of luck!”
Before I could say a word, he was gone and in a flash, had disappeared into the crowds.
I never saw him again. I was shattered after he left and walked around with a long face as though my heart was broken. There is little doubt I had fallen into a sort of depression for many days later. In just three meetings, I had become so affectionate of his company that his absence had drowned me in gloom, as though a shroud of perpetual night had descended on my life. Even my duty as a pilot had become a struggle. It was many months before I was able to be my usual self again.
Many times alone in my cockpit, high in the skies, I have felt a strange apparition watching over me, leading me safely to my destination. Sometimes I’ve seen, among the innumerable shapes of the clouds, a figure materialize out of thin air and disappear again as though God himself wanted His presence known to me. Though my scientific mind refuses to accept it and believes it to be a hallucination, I am still amazed at the mystery of the vision.
Drifting in the vast reaches of the blue heavens, I am often overcome by crushing loneliness, and the heavy burden of being responsible for so many other lives on board overwhelms my soul. Then I see sudden flashes of mysterious light, limpid and lingering before me, so altogether different from the piercing brilliance of the sun. And I remember the simple madman once I met many years ago, and I am filled with joy and strength once more.
And even to this day, I ponder on the curious meeting with him and the memorable time we spent together. I remember every single word he spoke and even in his madness, he seemed to have such simple, yet profound wisdom. I hope that the strange man has finally solved the God problem. I dearly wish him all the luck in the world to assist him in his logic of lunacy.
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!