I was walking home from a friend’s birthday dinner. At the end – alone with her and her husband, fortified with imperial stout – I shared my frustrations with my church. My spiritual dryness, my concern that I was walking in place – and walking in a pit of molasses. Maybe I should leave. Maybe I should find another church. But was I overly sensitive? Would I find the same situation elsewhere?
They gave me a great deal of considered, godly wisdom.
Walking home from the bus station, I encountered a possum walking along the fence just beside me. Possums look cute but when cornered they can be dangerous. Surprised, at first I just walked alongside it. Like we were both strolling through the sidewalk just after midnight. Strangers well met.
I stopped and waited. Let it get on ahead and move away from the fence. The possum walked a little farther and then stopped, looking back at me.
I held its gaze for a good twenty seconds.
I looked away and pretended to study the moon veiled in clouds, the train tracks, the city glowing behind me. When I glanced back the possum was still watching me. Unmoving. I suffered a flash of transcendent clarity – the sudden conviction that I was being called to wait politely behind this possum for as long as it took, to discover endurance and patience in the movements of a humble animal.
I strode home, down the path, leaning away from the possum. I looked back and saw it peer at me, and then follow. Slowly. It might have been stalking me. It might have just happened to be headed in the same direction. At whatever pace its paws set.
I’m going to stay at my church a bit longer.