A voice called urgently to Sherlock Holmes, as he sat in his plush rooms at 221 Baker Street. The door opened, and in rushed an older man, slightly out of breath from climbing the stairs leading to the flats that the two men shared.
"Holmes, you’ve got to help me," pleaded the man.
Sherlock Holmes looked up and called soothingly "Watson, my dear friend, come what ails you? Sit and be calm. Tell me all about it".
Watson sat, obediently, and regaining both his decorum and his breathe, apologized for the somewhat unusual entry into the room.
"I’m sorry, Holmes. But it’s awful - I need your excellent skills of logic and deduction. I’m in a terrible state."
"I can see that," said Holmes "but I am no magician - pray give me an account of your situation"
So, more calmly, Dr John Watson began his story.
"Well you see Holmes, I’ve lost my God" he said. "I’ve lost my God and I cannot find Him. I’ve looked everywhere. He has been my constant companion since my experiences in the War, but all of a sudden He’s missing from my life."
Sherlock Holmes, the great detective, looked at his companion with concern. "But you have others haven’t you?" he asked.
"Other gods? No Holmes. He was my only one" said Watson sadly.
"Then we shall set to finding him" said Holmes, his eyes glinting with the challenge. "Firstly, I can deduce that your god was a man, since you have referred to ’him’ no less than four times. Pray describe the gentleman. What did he look like?"
" Well, I … er… well, I suppose He must look like me, er us." Said Watson, a little doubtfully. "I don’t really know, because I haven’t seen Him - not in the usual way. But my bible says that ’we’ were created in His image, so He MUST look like us, don’t you see?"
"Excellent Watson. So your god is male, biped, anglo-saxon in appearance." said Holmes. "We are making progress, my friend. Now, is your god quietly spoken, or bold of voice?"
"Well, to some He speaks loudly, but to others His voice is like honey. He was always my friend Holmes, since I can remember. He was always with me, even when I was a little churlish, or grumpy. He was a great friend Holmes".
The door to the room opened, and Mrs Hudson came in carrying a tray bearing tea and cakes. It was apparent to Holmes although not to Dr Watson, that she had been listening at the door.
"I’ve brought you some tea Mr Holmes, Dr Watson" she said.
"Thank you Mrs Hudson - You know, this might be a case for feminine intuition Watson. Mrs Hudson, take a seat will you - perhaps you would be kind enough to provide us with your excellent company. Dr Watson, you see, has lost his god".
Mrs Hudson sat down. "Oh, Dr Watson, what a calamity. Of course, I’ll do what I can"
Holmes turned his attention back to Dr Watson, and asked "Is he a powerful god? Or just a small god in charge of administrative affairs?"
"Oh, powerful" said Watson confidently. "He sees all, knows all - He made the entire world and universe in only six days. " he said. "He rested on the seventh" he added.
"I see", said Holmes "So being so big, he could hardly be found in any small place"
"I have sometimes seen Him in a flower" said Mrs Hudson, more to her self than either of the two gentlemen.
"Yes, quite." Said Holmes dismissively.
"He, er - well I hardly like to ask - he might not be dead?" asked Holmes gently.
"Oh, no Holmes. He is eternal. He was here before all creation and will exist forever"
"Did he have any family?" asked Holmes
"He had a son. Nice chap. Chip of the old block you might say. Good sort. Did some charity work I believe. He died though, some years ago."
"I see. We can assume that a gentleman of your account Watson, would have a god indicative of his own class, so I think we can eliminate the more unsavoury areas of London. We would not expect to find him in an East-End opium den for example. "
"Oh, no" said Dr Watson, appalled. "St Pauls, perhaps Holmes, or Westminster Abbey".
"Pray tell me, Watson, did the two of you enjoy any special places, or activities together?" asked Holmes.
"My word, yes Holmes", answered Dr Watson. "We always enjoyed a walk in the park - the birds would sing, and the scent of the flowers was almost overwhelming. Oh, and sometimes I would pray, and I’d feel His presence with me like a burning sun, only, well Holmes, you know, a sun burning with love." Dr Watson sounded almost apologetic.
"Now where were you when you lost your God?" asked Holmes.
"I was at my club. I’d just eaten a delightful meal - smoked salmon it was - and drunk a rather splendid port and smoked a rather pleasant cigar, and had just stepped from the building when a dirty looking beggar cut in front of me. I immediately told him to ’be off’ …" It quite ruined the day.
"Of course old chap"
"… and suddenly, I realized He was gone - my God that is. And, dash it all Holmes, I really miss Him"
"Of course you do Watson" soothed Holmes.
"He was with me during the war, when I had that injury to my er my ". His words trailed off into a mumble. "It’s dashed awful being without Him" he said.
"Calm yourself, my good man. " said Holmes. He sat back in his chair, and picked up his pipe. Lighting it, he puffed at it energetically. Suddenly he looked towards his old friend.
"Fear not Watson. I have the answer!" he said.
"Oh Holmes, have you? You are amazing." Said Dr Watson.
"It was quite elementary", responded Holmes. "Lets look at the facts.
"Firstly, your god is of good quality. White, of the higher classes. He is immensely powerful, and obviously enjoys the company of quality people like yourself"
"Thank you Holmes" said Dr Watson appreciatively.
"He would not enjoy the company the less-well bred, or be at ease with the dirt and squalor, and so the answer is clear. When you left your club and had that most unpleasant encounter with the street beggar, your god went back inside the club for a few stiff drinks, where - unless I am very much mistaken - you will find him now."
"Holmes, you are a wonder" cried Dr Watson. "I’ll go back and fetch Him." And with that he jumped to his feet and quit the room.
"I’m sorry Mrs Hudson - it looks like we didn’t need you at all" said Holmes apologetically. "Perhaps you could make me some more tea. This pot would appear to be cold"
"Certainly" said Mrs Hudson. "But may I be so bold as to offer you the opinion that you originally sought from me?"
"Of course" said Holmes, slightly taken aback. "Please, be my guest".
"Well," began Mrs Hudson. "I think you might have made a couple of mistakes in your elementary deductions about Dr Watson’s God".
"Nonsense" said Holmes. "But I forget my manners, pray continue dear lady".
"Firstly, Dr Watson’s God created everything - the Universe, the earth, you, me, - even the tea and cakes that I brought in. As the good doctor told you, his God was supremely powerful - all knowing, all seeing, ever present. When he called Him his friend, he was describing a God of great love.. Do you see?"
"I’ll confess I do not as yet, but perhaps I might." said Holmes.
"Now, secondly, although ’we’ were made in ’His’ image, that doesn’t necessarily mean that God is like us. We say ’He’ because it is convenient, but if God is beyond life and death, if God is the creator of all, if God is ever powerful and ever present, has always been and will always be, then to assume that He should be limited to the body of a Man is nonsense. It is possible, though that He might choose to appear that way for our convenience.
"Being created in God’s image might relate more to our capacity to love, and to care for each other, and for the world that God Himself has given us than being a physical similarity.
"Thirdly , He - God - had a son as Dr Watson told you, called Jesus. He walked with the poor, and gave them the greatest gift of all - the Good News about His father - God - and how they could attain everlasting life. Jesus told them what they didn’t know - that God loved them. And when Jesus was killed by those who felt threatened by the truth, He was resurrected, and is with God. A God who was the father of such a son would not be offended by the sight of someone more unfortunate, but would love them just as much. Such a God would love all of His creations - even those unable to dine on smoked salmon."
"But where then, is Dr Watson’s god?" asked Holmes.
"Dr Watson’s god stuck by him - through his wartime experiences, and despite his grumpy moods. He would not have left him. Certainly you would not would you?"
"Indeed not" said Holmes. "So where is he, this god of Dr Watson’s?"
"That", said Mrs Hudson, "is elementary my dear Holmes. He never left Dr Watson."
"You baffle me Mrs Hudson" protested Holmes.
"When the good Doctor encountered the beggar, instead of opening his heart, he closed it. But when you close the door to your heart, you close it to everyone. Including God. Though God was still with him, HE was not with God."
"An interesting argument", said Holmes. "But I prefer mine. And if I may say so Mrs Hudson, I believe you have been reading too many religious books. You’re manner is most unsettling, and your turn of phrase not to the liking of a logistical analyst like myself. Yes, you have been reading too many books".
"No", answered Mrs Hudson. "Just the one"