When our children were in the storytime age group, a favorite read-aloud was Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, a goofy (modernized) fairy-tale-style picture book by Kevin O’Malley, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto.
One moment in the story we all still recall is when the “hero” dons an invisibility cloak to defeat the evil monster. He says, “You can’t see me!”
Even though it’s not this way in the book, our family has taken the phrase to mean what happens when, like a little kid playing hide and seek, someone hides under a blanket and thinks because they can’t see anyone, no one can see them, either. It’s obvious to everyone around that there’s a person-sized lump under the blanket, but the little kid really thinks they are fooling everyone.
I thought of this as we heard the readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this year. In a figurative way, this is what Adam and Eve were doing in the garden after they sinned.
It’s charming when a 3-year-old thinks they are hidden from others’ eyes under a fuzzy blanket, but it’s one of the most heart-breaking moments of stubborn unrepentance in Scripture when Adam and Eve try to hide from God and the truth, first by trying to cover themselves up and avoiding God and then by shifting the blame to anyone else within reach.
Jesus says in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).
I think that in our weakness and sins, we try to throw a lot of blankets over our own heads. In the process, we can think we are covering up pretty well — from others, from ourselves, and from God. Instead of succeeding in covering up our own weaknesses and sins — especially from God — pretty much all we are doing is preventing ourselves from seeing — and being with — God. We find ourselves alone and in the dark under our so-called “invisibility cloak.”
Even though not literally present in the readings for the Immaculate Conception, I contrasted the idea of the “hiding blanket” with the concept of the mantle of the Blessed Mother. Instead of a blanket for foolishly thinking we can hide from God, we can benefit from her mantle, a true protection for us.
Sometimes the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe are translated, “Are you not under my shadow? Are you not held in my mantle?”
In Genesis 3, God tells the serpent he will crawl and eat dirt all the days of his life. The devil has chosen a life of skulking, hiding from the truth and filling himself with dirt.
We have other options available to us. We can choose to also try to hide under a self-made blanket that neither protects us nor keeps us warm, or we can own up to our sins, acknowledge our weaknesses and need for God’s help,and allow our Blessed Mother to keep us under her protective mantle.