Wednesday, December 24, 2014

COLUMN: Savior

Eavesdropping is a very bad thing to do. It's a violation of privacy, an unethical and self-serving act and a well-recognized societal no-no. It also can be a lot of fun.

This was going to be my annual column in which I list my year-end faves. That will have to wait, because some accidental eavesdropping just brought me BREAKING NEWS of potentially apocalyptic importance, swear to God. Not that any of us should ever swear to God, because that's probably worse than eavesdropping -- and if what I overheard is accurate, we all might want to try a little harder than usual to get on God's good side right about now.

I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it was practically unavoidable. All I did was walk into a gas station to get some soda. Two ladies were positioned smack in the middle of the soda aisle, deeply engaged in conversation. Well, one of them was doing the conversing, while the other just stood there listening. They paid me no heed while I opened the case and grabbed a Coke, and for those glorious 20 or so seconds, I was within earshot of a truly epic monologue.

Here is, verbatim, what I heard during that soda reach:

"... It was excruciating, so I went to see the savior. He didn't want to help me at first, but after I told him how bad things were, he gave me the healing word of God. Every night as I go to bed, I've been chanting it. It's been a week now, and I'm already off ALL my meds ..."

Go ahead, read it again if you want. Soak it up and feel free to start forming the same questions I immediately did.

I suppose the easy reaction would be to dismiss this as the delusional ramblings of a lunatic or cult victim. But this woman didn't strike me as being especially crazypants. She was good-looking, professionally dressed and carried herself in a dignified manner. So hey, let's give a statement of this magnitude its due consideration. If you're going by the absolute loosest definition of the term, I am a "journalist." Ergo, I should document and report the news in a fair and unbiased manner, so let's dissect this info piece by piece.

1. "... It was EXCRUCIATING." I never found out what this poor lady's malady was, but it has to be physical, right? Having the Centennial Bridge closed all summer was fairly excruciating, yet not once did I feel the need to turn to spiritual guidance and/or healing to overcome it. I just took the government bridge. So let's assume there's a genuine physical ailment at work that caused this woman to go to ...

2. "... see THE SAVIOR." Here's where the real struggle begins. First, I'm not quite sure whether this deserves a capital S or not. I'm only aware of one Savior, and He is about to turn 2015 years old. I don't know a lot about the Second Coming, but isn't it supposed to heralded by trumpets or horsemen or a bolt of lightning? At the very least, wouldn't it be trending on Twitter? Thanks to the Information Age, I know what Miley Cyrus had for dinner last night; I find it hard to believe that I wouldn't know about the end of days. And yet, this woman didn't say she went to see "a" savior; she said went to see "THE" savior, spoken with a "Highlander"-esque "there-can-be-only-one" conviction. But weirder yet, her savior ...

3. "... didn't want to help me at first." This isn't great evidence for the Second Coming being at hand. Nowhere in the Bible do I recall Jesus being especially reluctant to assist people. I don't recall any stories about lepers being made to wait because someone was in a mood. "Gee, I'd love to help, but I'm a little preoccupied at the moment. I dunno if you've heard, but it IS my birthday in a couple of days ..." No, that's not any savior I'm familiar with.

Still, what reason would I have to doubt the overheard conversation of a complete stranger in a gas station? So, purely for the sake of argument, let's presume this lady speaks the truth, and a savior of some kind walks the Earth, makes his presence known only to a small collective of folks prone to socializing in gas-station soda aisles, and has a bit of an attitude when it comes to his basic job duties. If we force ourselves to buy into this much of the story, then we can further believe that this savior gave the woman ...

4. "... the healing word of God." This is a little more up my alley. I'd love to believe that there exists in this world a single word that, if chanted for a week, makes all your problems disappear. Is anything like this even fabled to exist? (I confess, my knowledge of religious lore is mostly limited to those items preceded by the words "Indiana Jones and the.") I just didn't hear what the word WAS. There are only so many ways you can reach for a soda in slow motion before it becomes obvious that you're eavesdropping, and I'd used up my window.

But then it hit me: There's a simple way to prove or disprove the existence of said word. We simply get a whole bunch of people together, and we divide up the dictionary one word at a time. Everybody takes a word, chants it for a week, and we see if anyone gets healed of whatever ails him or her. It could be a time-consuming project, for sure, but maybe we'll luck out and the healing word of God will be "aardvark." Admittedly, though, I'd feel a bit shortchanged if it turns out the divine answer to life, the universe and everything else is to chant the word "aardvark" for a week. As strange as life is, though, it just might be appropriate.

Of course, when I excitedly told Friend Jason of the plan, he countered by pointing out that nothing I overheard stipulated that the healing word of God was English, or was even a word in the context of which we know a word to be. Bummer. Still, though, I think we should all chant "aardvark" every night for a week just to be safe.

In the end, I have no idea what the heck I overheard. Maybe it WAS the delusional ramblings of someone deranged. Maybe it was some new religion that we're all unfamiliar with. Heck, maybe it was the real deal and a handful of gas-station enthusiasts are way ahead of the curve. Either way, it all comes down to hope.

Hope in a brighter future. Hope in our fellow man. Hope in holiday magic. And sure, hope that a savior will come along and give us a word that magically makes everything better, even if it's just for a little while. I'm pretty sure that word already exists: Christmas.

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good aardvark, aardvark, aardvark.

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