A Tattered Baseball Cap
The taxi driver appeared to be about fifty, perhaps older. A pleasant man, he readily answered my questions and engaged us in a lively conversation.
Usually, I try to lead the discussion towards the Gospel, sometimes by asking the meaning of whatever idol or talisman is hanging from the mirror. This time, however, I was intrigued by an old red baseball cap sitting on the dashboard just to the right of the driver.
“What is that cap about?” I asked.
“It’s from Ali Shan,” he replied. That’s the name of the tallest mountain in Taiwan, a very popular tourist site which we have never visited.
“Have you been there?”
“Oh, yes, about fifteen years ago.”
“What was it like?”
“It was great.” He proceeded to tell us that you take the train to a nearby town, where you spend the night. The next day, you take a smaller train up the mountain, where you spend the second night, so you’ll be within striking distance of the summit, which you ascend the following morning before dawn in order to witness the sunrise, which is apparently stunningly beautiful. Then you head on home.
“So that hat is a memento of your trip?”
“Right. It helps me remember what a great time we had.”
“Actually, Christmas and Easter function in a similar way for Christians,” I said. “They help us remember the birth and then the death and resurrection of Christ.”
I knew the connection was a bit forced, and he didn’t pick up on what I said, so I just pondered the import of that tattered red baseball cap.
Here’s a man who works perhaps eleven or more hours a day, driving people with more money than he has, often to places he couldn’t afford to go. Day in, day out, he fights the smog and the traffic and the rain of a big, gray city. Just an ordinary guy, one of six million in a large metropolitan area, everyone hurrying off to work, or play, or returning wearily home.
But he has his cap, and it recalls to his tired mind the mighty, snow-capped mountain, with its pure, bracing air and gorgeous view. The brilliance of that rising sun will remain in his memory as long as he lives.
And I? What have I done with the hundreds, even thousands, of events that brought me joy at the time? More to the point, how have I cherished the multi-splendored grace of God, evoked annually by Christmas and Easter?
As we parted that evening, I thought that perhaps I had more to learn from him than to teach.