|People will be Russian to buy them|
Now that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I have been wearing the hat. In my self-consciousness I have been paying more attention to people who pass me on the streets and in shopping plazas--not for their sakes, mind you, but because of the hat.
This happened just today. I saw a couple get out of their car, and the young woman was grinning. At me!? I quickly continued walking toward the store, which turned out to be the same one they had entered (somehow I'd lost track of them). This conversation ensued:
He: "Hey, nice hat."
I: "Do you mean that, or are you just making fun of me?"
He: [feigning sincerity, backtracking, making excuses, otherwise being unmasked for his idiocy]
Take note, patient reader, that the preceding conversation took place in my mind. By the time I entered the store, the couple was minding their business, paying no noticeable attention even to the most paranoid me.
This mental maelstrom moved me to have a real conversation. Returning to my car with its hands-free connectivity, I called a friend, to whom I laid out the whole situation. He deftly waded through the slush:
He: "Do you like the hat?"
I: "I do."
He: "So wear the hat."
I: "I am."
My friend reminded me that my strained interior monologue would find healing by recalling the true nature of who and what I am, and being at peace with that. He knows well that this has been an arduous endeavor for me, but like a good friend, he has accompanied me thus far and has no plans of giving up on me. I have not always been such a stalwart companion to the people in my life, I concede; but if our Second-Chance-Giving God sees fit, He will arrange further interactions.
In our conversation I thought of another man with a unique hat who, if he were anything like me, would be a bit self-conscious right now.
Since the advent of news magazines and television programs, and especially in the days of the Internet, every Pope has been photographed and evaluated from every angle. "Heavy hangs the hat that wears the crown," or miter; but it seems that the Holy Fathers have gone about their Father's business with joyful determination, self-un-consciousness.
Consider Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Since his abdication of the papacy, he has been permitted to continue wearing the white zucchetto. The satirical Catholic news site Eye of the Tiber fabulates Benedict's quiet sadness upon reading of his successor's fame. If, as far as we know, Pope Francis discharges the duties of Bishop of Rome without becoming curved in on himself*, we can surmise that Pope Emeritus Benedict's interior conformity to Christ, and protection from public scrutiny, will suffice to guide him gently to the Trinity's embrace.
*"Curved in on himself" (incurvatus in se): St. Augustine's famous description of my lifeA vibrant relationship with God enables us to wear the hat of our vocation without becoming excessively concerned about the dimensions of our head.