My favorite children’s book, unfortunately out of print, is The Hat by Tomi Ungerer. In this colorful story, a magical hat flies off a rich man’s head, blows in the wind, and lands on the bald head of Benito Bodoglio, a penniless veteran. The hat brings Bodoglio adventure, fame, wealth, and, eventually, the love of the Contessa Astri d’Istra. As the couple set off on their honeymoon, the hat blows off Bodoglio’s head and flies “hither and thither…Heaven only knows where.”
When I read this story to children, I always remind them to look up: one never knows where the hat will land next. Good fortune and infinite possibility should be part of every child’s life. From my perspective as an adult, however, I find it best not to look up but to look around. What do I see in my life? If I sleep every night in a bed, with a roof over my head, the hat has already fallen on me. If I have meaningful work, or maybe just work that keeps me afloat, the hat has already fallen on me. If there are people in my life, partner, friend, sister, or son, the hat has already fallen on me. If I can be soothed by nature, transported by books, touched by music and art, the hat has already fallen on me.
Most of us walk through life with a fistful of good fortune, for which we often give ourselves the credit. But let a single thing—job, house, health—slip from our grasp, and the blame goes to God. “Why would God do this to me?” “How can a loving God let that happen?” How much better to ask, “What did I ever do to deserve so much?” How much better to view all that we have as a gift as inexplicable and wonderful as a magical hat carried by the wind!
Appointed readings for today: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, Luke 15:1-3, 11-32