Something lost, Dallas Willard said once, might yet be very valuable. One’s car keys for instance.
He was speaking somewhat in the context of salvation, if I recall … the general point was calling something lost doesn’t mean it’s not wanted — quite the opposite. Yet it remains … until finding its way out or being found … lost.
A similar idea, this one from Fr Haggerty’s Contemplative Provocations, is the notion — and in reality and practice — the fact of something hidden. What is hidden — in context, for instance, he’s talking about God — isn’t absent.
It can be tempting to perceive
his hiddenness as absence.
— he writes. And —
The hidden presence of God
is not at all an absence.
We can test this in a couple ways here, real quick.
Recall, for instance, the childhood game ‘Hide and Seek.’ All children save one who are playing the game hide; one kid, that ‘save one’ from a second ago, seeks. The children who’re hiding are not absent. They’re not gone. They’re in the realm of the generally accepted playing area — the street, a park, whatever. If a kid left entirely, he’d be gone. A child hiding is still present.
Kinda interesting, too, is that the child not hiding … does nonetheless hide for a moment. It’s part of the ritual, you see.
[We can tweak this in different ways and there are marvy permutations — a kid who decides to switch over to playing soccer instead might be considered absent from the hide-and-seek- game from that point — even if we can still see him! Is a kid sleeping in math class, me, for instance, absent or just hiding? If a player is adjudged by the group or the boss-kid to have cheated in some ways, in that also wondrous way kids have of knowing what’s right and wrong, and passing sentence and censure on the latter, well … there ya go.]
Or try this experiment.
Take a quarter from your pocket. For younger readers, that’s a coin, one-fourth of a dollar, which is paper money … never mind.
Place the quarter on a flat surface in front of you and cover it with your hand. Hidden.
Huck the quarter as far as you can in some random faraway direction. Absent.
A baby — yours p’raps, or your adult child’s. Cover your eyes.
Both hidden and absent — and we recognize it as a game. We know ourselves to be the former, the bambino seems to see us, pun accepted, as the latter. But they know the real dealio, as well — which is why they laugh instead of cry, at the raucous and repeated reveal.
[DW has a story about this, too, involving his wife and granddaughter and how we try to hide from God. Another time, friends.]
Any case, the difference — hidden v absent — is obvious to a babe in the woods playing hide-and-seek, and one on the floor, frolic-fascinated in front of you. A mere child.
Become as one.
Mt Athos [ed]