Some while back I took my regular walk in our gardens, just strolling along when I looked down and about twelve feet away was a small skunk. It, too, was just sort of nonchalantly strolling along in the grass, heading straight towards me. I saw her at the same time she saw me. I stopped. She stopped. I blinked. She blinked. I said, “You can have it,” and backed away.
When I told my youngest daughter Amanda about the skunk she said: “Mom, you probably have the entire wild kingdom out there all day long and when you come home early or go out there earlier than expected you throw them off completely! Poor skunk!”
This skunk incident reminded me of an event I attended where I encountered a woman avoiding me. Another had told me this same woman had said some mean things about me and our racial justice program. I had not repeated those words to a soul. I was not sure I believed them. But this woman scurried away each time it looked like we might have an occasion to speak. I had to wonder: Was I the skunk in her garden?
Years ago in Bible college one New Testament professor liked to use this expression: “It takes a diamond to cut a diamond.” He described how “in community” Christians scrape against each other—often without intent but never without purpose as God uses this friction to cut rich facets of compassion, forgiveness and endurance (to name a few). He said a raw diamond has neither beauty nor clarity. God, however, as a master diamond cutter, knew just how to bring together the right amount of pressure to get us to where we were intended to be: bright with maturity and clear with love.
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.