I stumbled upon a basketball sized Diamond in the desert. I was hiking along, just me, sand and sky when I saw a flicker of light way out in front of me. That's all it was at first. It looked like a piece of aluminum reflecting the sun, but as I got closer, the flicker got wider, more intense, spreading into a bright beam which forced me to squint. Then I was standing over it. It protruded from the sand like a magnificent crystal meteor. A long WOW escaped from my lips as the sunlight danced in and out of the Diamond, casting rays in all directions. I stared and blinked for awhile, astounded at my find, then reached down and touched it gently with two fingers. Slowly, I dropped to my knees and placed my hands on it.
I turned my head quickly toward the loud voice behind me.
It was a pastor. At least he looked like a pastor. He had a clean-shaved round face, short, well-combed hair, black pants, a white dress shirt and a small gold cross around his neck. He might have been a priest, but he wasn't wearing his collar. Either way, he was totally overdressed for hiking in the desert.
"Don't move that Diamond, sister." He smiled. His voice was low and smooth. He didn't sound intimidating, more like a parent being firm with a child about making their bed.
I stood up and brushed the sand off my knees, my heart still pounding from being startled. Where in the world had he come from? Man! I am finding all kinds of amazing things out here in the desert! And I didn't even bring my metal detector!
"Why can't I move it?" I asked. I tried to sound respectful.
He crossed his hands in a prayer pose on his stomach which stuck out over his belt. He had not been starving out here in the desert like a monk, that was for sure.
"Sister, the Diamond is not for you to touch. It is for you to look at. As my mother used to say, God rest her soul, 'See with your eyes and not your hands!' Or was that my 1st grade teacher? Anyway, just look at it, my dear, don't touch it." A bead of sweat ran down his face near his eye and I wondered if he was going to unlock his hands to wipe it off. He didn't.
"But I want to see what it looks like, what it feels like." I insisted. "I want to know what's under it, how it got here. It has so many facets to it! Look!" I pointed eagerly at the Diamond.
"I know, I know." He said. "But do you really need to see all that? Do you have to touch it to appreciate it? Just love it for what it is--a big, beautiful Diamond given to us by God, sitting out here in the desert for us to look at and admire." He seemed to glow as he moved closer to the Diamond, then he bent over and began to stroke it like a pet. I could faintly detect his cologne, and strongly detect his body odor. Calvin Klein meets men's locker-room.
I was astounded at his lack of curiosity. "But how did it get here? Don't you want to know?" He kept his eyes focused on the Diamond.
"What does it matter? I mean, does it matter how it got here, sister? It is here. It is beautiful. Just love it, look at it, enjoy it. Go home and tell others what you saw, but leave it here. Leave it alone. You can't pick it up and carry it anyway. Many have tried. It's too heavy. It can't be moved." He stood up slowly and his knees popped causing him to grimace before his face softened and he looked earnestly at me.
"This Diamond is here and it is for us to treasure, to cherish, look at and talk about. Pray over it if you wish. Touch it and marvel at it. Walk around it and stare at what God has made visible in it. It is a thing of beauty! It shows us there is a God." He looked away off into the distance and then re-focused his eyes back on the Diamond. He rubbed the small cross around his neck as he gazed trance-like at the gem. "It certainly is a work of art, isn't it? You can see God in it, in every flash and facet. Amazing. We know it is sharper than glass. We know it reflects light and is very rare. I believe this much beauty had to be created by the will of God, had to be inspired by God. Don't you believe, sister?" He looked at me, his eyebrows raised, then brought the cross up to his lips, kissed it gently, then released it. It stuck on to his sweaty neck at an awkward angle. My head was starting to hurt.
"Believe? Of course I believe! But what do I believe? In a God reflected in a Diamond I know very little about?" He got closer to me. He was either scowling or squinting. I couldn't tell.
"But I told you all you need to know about it! What do you not know? It is hard, it is rare, it is..."
I cut him off. "It is mysterious!" I threw up my hands in frustration. Enough talk. It was hot and I was getting cranky. I moved toward the Diamond and got down on my knees.
"You may be fine with what you can see, but I need to know how it got here. Who made it. Why it was made. I want to know what the other side looks like, what it looks like in the darkness under the stars or what could possibly be under it. Don't you have the slightest bit of curiosity?" I dug my hands under the Diamond as the pastor rubbed his temples in a circular motion. His voice was flat, tired.
"I've seen enough already."
The sand scorched my fingers as I continued to burrow and scratch under the Diamond. I took a deep breath, leaned into it and... My goodness! It was as heavy as an anchor! My hands were too sweaty to get a good grip. But I did move it a little; it turned over slightly.
The pastor stepped toward me, his black leather shoe nearly coming down on my ankle.
"I told you not to move it! Why can't you just look at it? Enjoy it for what it is?" I ignored him and dug my hands deeper into the sand, heaved as hard as I could and moved it again, not much, but enough to expose several new, shimmering facets near the bottom. A bright beam of afternoon sunlight reflected off them and blinded me for a few seconds.
"Glory be!" The pastor exclaimed as he leaned over my shoulder. "Will you look at that!"
Once my eyes adjusted, I saw it. Something was inscribed on the bottom of the Diamond:
THIS SIDE UP.
- Hope A. Horner, 2013
"For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)