One might think that yours truly keeps trying to lose his hat. I left it in a taxi, but fortunately remembered it before the cab drove away; the black cap was tucked in a crack in the back seat. I dropped it in a Starbucks, but a helpful fellow patron (this is Dallas after all) noticed it and brought it to me.
In a conference hotel, at the end of the business meeting, I looked around me and realized I didn’t have it. I retraced my steps, checked at a couple of places — no hat. Then to the front desk. The clerk phoned a staff room, she said, in the basement. Immediate response: yes, the hat was there. She told me to stay at the desk and they’d bring it up immediately.
From one point of view, I should get a new one. This one is five years old and showing its age. On the other hand, its predecessor was lost on a bus in New York City. I remember the evening: I was going to the hospital to see my wife. So I’m glad to have this old, comfortable hat, even though I keep forgetting it.
It’s like they say of the head, or more precisely what I should say of my own head: If it weren’t attached, I’d be forgetting it all the time.
God has attached himself to us. Sacramentally in baptism, by figure in his election of the people Israel, the Spirit of God has laid hold of us and won’t let us go. The Psalmist marvels at how he cannot escape God. “Where can I go then from your Spirit? where can I flee from your presence? If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast.” (BCP Ps 139:6-9)
I might forget God, like I keep forgetting my hat. But his Spirit is attached to me, even more firmly than my own head. For better for worse, I cannot get away from him.
Out & About. This Sunday, January 15, I’ll start a four-week class, “Strange but True Things about God.” This week’s topic is the deep strangeness of being creator. Every human being can deduce that God exists, but the very proof of his existence also tells us that we cannot know what God is. As Aquinas says, we can only know what God is not. I say, it’s strange. Join me at Church of the Incarnation, 3966 McKinney, Dallas, Sunday at 10:20. The class is in room 119 of the education building.