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  • Mary Davis

Kindness and the Skunk


A few days ago from the writing window a rustling caught my eye.

Heading straight for me was a large, limping skunk with a very puffy tuft of white hair covering her back like a lovely fur coat.

As she approached, it occurred to me that no one really prays for skunks, except maybe to say while driving, Please God, don’t let me hit this thing.

We make assumptions about skunks. We think we know them.

No, skunks, like stink bugs have a bad rap with very few finding the good in them.

And this girl had two soul-expanding features: she was a skunk and she had a disability. A big spirit indeed.

Being nocturnal, or technically crepuscular (they come out at dusk and dawn), we don’t see skunks around much.

It was special that she came right to the window and looked directly up at me with her near-sighted eyes.

Then my new buddy Samantha crossed the frog pond bridge and made her way limping off to visit the horses.

I prayed for her front paw.

As I stood watching her cross the field, I wondered about the sick, the poor, the vulnerable, the weak.

Am I as kind to them as I am to others? Do I love the unloveable? Do I give my kindness to all hearts within reach?

Yesterday at dawn, she took the same path to the windows but this time taking one labored step at a time, clearly on her last legs.

Oh Samantha!

She made it to the back patio then fell in a heap on a soft pile of leaves in the flower bed. And lay there for hours. I went out and she lifted her head toward me and put it back down.

I told her it was okay to die now; that all sorts of skunk angels were going to help her cross over. I was doing my “death doula thing” as one of my friends would say.

Hours later I found her. She had moved herself to the compost area away from the house to die. What a thoughtful girl.

As you may have guessed, this morning featured a one-minute skunk memorial at the open-air chapel on Hunters Road.

It was a quiet, come-as-you-are affair. In attendance were two doves, four cardinals, a chickadee and a hawk.

The horses watched from the field. A rooster crowed along with my hummed verse of Amazing Grace.

And Sam went off to new fields in style.

In The World:

  • We never know. What we perceive as the least among us might just be the greatest. Powerful beings come clothed in humble circumstances. Be gentle and kind in the part of the world that is within reach of your love. Small acts of kindness change the world one heart at a time.

In The Heart:

  • Today I reserve judgement and give freely of my kindness. I walk with a gentle step and love with a warm heart.

Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world. —Pema Chodron

Samantha on her way down the path to visit the horses.

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