"I don't believe in you," says the entrepreneur. "I just want to make that clear."
"Okay," God says. "But in the interests of transparency, I think you should know that I believe in you."
They order their coffees in ceramic cups to avoid adding to the landfill.
God points to a young woman, only in her 20s. She's dressed in a stylish business suit, but she's got her head in her hands sleeping on the bar in the midst of the bustling café. They sit right next to her.
"Her baby won't sleep," says God. "Her grandma - who raised her - just had a stroke and has lost the ability to speak. And to top it off, her husband just left her for another man."
"That's rough," said the entrepreneur.
"That's why I'm here," says God.
"Not to talk to me?" The entrepreneur laughs. A little nervously.
"You think I don't exist. She asked me to help."
"Don't you feel challenged by my disbelief?" says the entrepreneur.
"No." God sips his coffee with both eyes shut, savoring it. "Belief is voluntary."
"What's that supposed to mean? I thought you believed in me. Have you given up already?"
"No," says God, "have you?"
A silence ensues. They sip their coffee. God's attitude bugs the entrepreneur, who is a decent guy and feels there should be a level playing field in everything, even in spiritual matters -- that God, if by some chance He does exist, should be there for you regardless of what you believe.
"Doesn't work that way," says God. "I am a function of free will. Choose me or lose me."
The entrepreneur frowns. He's never chosen God and doesn't like the idea that he has to commit to something before he's sure if it works for him. Besides, God reading his mind really irritates him. It's a privacy issue.
"So what will you do," he indicates the sleeping woman, "perform a miracle?"
God smiles. And walks out the door.
The entrepreneur shakes his head and rubs his eyes and tells himself his caffeine dependence is leading to hallucinations. God in my favorite café, he thinks, what a joke.
At that point the woman sleeping on the bar next to him lashes out in a dream and knocks his large Americano all over him. The big cup bounces off his chest and hits the floor, shattering in an impressive array of splinters and chunks.
The woman blinks and gathers in the situation, realizing what she's done. "I'm so sorry," she says. She looks straight at him. He sees the weariness, the pain and the sadness in her eyes. The entrepreneur finds himself deeply affected. He feels a powerful, intuitive urge to do something to lift her burden. He says the first thing that comes to his mind.
"Have you tried Mozart," he says. (The entrepreneur studied music as well as computer science at college.)
"I beg your pardon."
"The Concerto for Flute and Harp. The Andantino. For the baby, I mean. It's very soothing."
"Who told you about my baby ...? The barista? God, I'm so pathetic. Pity from a stranger." Her head slumps into her hands again.
He fumbles for his smartphone so he can find the Mozart concerto on the Internet. He presses play and sets it down close to her ear.
The music is divine - light, graceful, lilting. Like a leaf floating on a gentle-flowing stream. But the woman finds no comfort in the sound. Instead, she lifts her head suddenly.
"Are you stalking me?" she says loud enough to quiet the entire café. Though she's a decent person, too, her anger flares. "Go away! I don't know you and I don't want to know you. Go!"
With all eyes upon him, the entrepreneur backs away and feeling the assumption of guilt coming from all the onlookers, he heads quickly for the door and out on to the street.
God is waiting.
"Don't mock me," says the entrepreneur.
"Not my thing," says God. "I'm in the potential business, belittling is counter-productive."
"What was up with that in there? She looked so desperate. I was just trying to help. "
"She's suffering. And she's learning. But in between the suffering and the learning, it's easy to get lost. Don't worry. You did a good thing." Then God points to a policeman who's jogging toward the café. "But if I were you I'd head back to the office before you're taken in for questioning."
Back at the office, the entrepreneur gets an email from the woman. He left his smartphone in the café - still playing the Mozart. She found his work email address on it. And now she writes that after he left, she ended up listening to the whole Mozart movement. She can't wait to try it with her baby. She asks his forgiveness and offers to return the phone in person if he will meet her back at the café after work.
In the following days, the Mozart proves to be completely ineffective as a sleep-aid to the infant.
But the flute and harp concerto brings great solace to the woman's grandma who smiles each time her granddaughter plays it for her.
Over time, and in spite of his busy schedule, the entrepreneur becomes a favorite babysitter with a knack for using knee bends and lullabies to coax the baby toward slumber.
Over even more time, the entrepreneur forges a deep, trusting relationship with the woman. And she feels she knows him well enough to introduce him to her brother, who is single and available.
It's an excellent match.
Cross-posted at "Thinking Philanthropy."
Watch and listen to the Mozart flute and harp concerto ( Andantino movement) by the Croatian Chamber Orchestra here