Friday, June 10, 2011

A skunk with a can on its head is reason to freeze

  There are those times when fear nails you to the spot, clips your lips shut, and freezes all your otherwise honorable actions. Sometimes these reactions are justified. Like the time my parents left me to the skunk.

One night my family was visiting friends; the adults chatted on the porch; we kids romped the yard, spun each other silly on the tire swing, and chased after fireflies with our mason jars. I was barefoot, as usual, but the dewy night grass was cold on my feet, so I went to the car where I found a pair of my father’s shoes (Why his and not mine? I have no idea).

I remember the moment well. It was dark; I could see the adults across the lawn, silhouetted against the porch. Just as I started clunking across the grass, I heard a rattling noise coming straight toward me. Apparently, my mother noticed it also because she yelled at me to get out of the shoes and run. A skunk with a tin can stuck on its head was careening wildly about six feet away from me.
I froze, as did everyone else. No one moved. Not an adult. Not a sibling.
 Finally, I started running as best as I could. My mother kept yelling for me to ditch the shoes, and the skunk, just trying to free his head, chased behind, banging and rattling. At some point, my father snatched me up as the skunk disappeared into the woods.

Well, I never held this against my parents, never needed therapy or anything, because I know all too well how easy it is to freeze while your brain weighs all its options. So many times, I’ve felt like a coward about saying the right thing, or standing up for someone, even the Lord.  I know it doesn’t do any good to berate myself when I wish I had responded differently, but I do use the moment to remind myself the next time I will have more courage.

I worry about the times we are living in. You can’t say “Amen” at a graduation. The National Anthem is too violent to be sung, and the military burns Bibles in Middle Eastern countries, because they offend, but handles the Koran with the demanded reverence.

G.K. Chesterton said, (years ago), “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

Right now, my lines have fallen in pleasant places, and for that I am thankful. I don’t have much stress or persecution. My life isn’t demanded of me because I am a woman or a Christian.

But I am praying now, in these good times, that I will live each day with courage to say and do what is good, right, true, and life-giving—wherever I am. I’m praying that I would practice integrity in the daily little things, so that should I be given a moment “for such a time as this,” I will take courage and fear not, for I know my God is with me.—Maybe even courage enough to risk the consequences and pull that can off a skunk’s head, should I ever meet up with one again!

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