The concealment

If one has ever looked for a lost sheep, or perhaps lost spectacles or lost fountain pen, one will be familiar with the sensation that it is hiding. But sheep seldom have that purpose, and household objects (arguably) never. In truth, one is looking in the wrong place. Nor may one conclude that the item has ceased to exist, from the fact that one cannot find it. Contemplation may soon yield the answer; or else it will enhance the mystery. How was I to guess that a mechanical pencil, without the capacity to disappear, but with the capacity to jab, had actually made a hole in the pocket of a jacket, and worked its way to the bottom of the lining? I condemned the pencil and not myself; I attributed volition when it stabbed me in the backside.

Science is at a loss to explain many a thing that could be easily explained, were it looking in the right place. The presumption that it must be somewhere else is the means of its concealment. In the example I gave, the knowledge that the sharp thing had been in my pocket was sufficient clue; by defect of intelligence, I read this clue wrongly.

The genius of Sherlock Holmes was not in the development of brilliant theories, but in his ability to ignore them; his refusal to be led astray. Likewise, the remarkable cosmological deductions of a Georges Lemaître (“Big Bang”), or of a Francis Crick (the “sequencing hypothesis” of 1957) came from spotting the obvious, then following it home. … (“Come and see!”)

The obvious lies concealed in a field of distractions. The quarry is, as it were, “hiding in plain view.” This is the secret, I was told by a detective novelist, to writing a detection novel. Start from the solution then add the distractions. The same method may be used in the construction of a joke. These are idle pursuits, but gentle reader must not expect me to condemn idleness.

God, I have sometimes reflected, is not hiding from us. We look for Him in all the wrong places (for instance, not in the Mass), often knowingly because, like Adam, we are hiding from Him. We blame Him for not being there, when He is standing right in front of us, silently and immovably. His presence could be known if we returned His gaze, but instead we are looking through and around it. Christ Himself will wait to be recognized, silently and patiently. He is not a screamer. Nor can He be “in the mood” to trick us, to sneak up and catch us out, for as we learn from the most reliable sources, he is not a trickster of that or any sort. Ask, and He will answer.

Now suppose one had the intention to trick, to conceal, to make Our Lord invisible to those genuinely in need of His assistance. In practice, this is easy. All one must supply, is distractions; to change the subject, as the seeker approaches; to raise a noisy protest, somewhere else. It seems to me the chief tactic of the Devil, in this or any age, is not to “deny Christ,” per se. That won’t work, for He is undeniable. Rather it is to keep him unseen, by putting ever more distractions in His way. By studying one’s customer, one learns which distractions he prefers.

The Devil and his agents can be stupid, as mediaeval man was aware. Their mistakes consist of becoming too cocky, too visible themselves; of slipping into a direct contest. This only contributes to Christ being seen. And when He is, the game is up for them. How many little devils have blown it in this way!