His big hands gently unfolded the white tissue paper to reveal the contents of the small parcel to us. The three of us were huddled around a corner table in an urban coffee shop. The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the intimate space of the small room. It was still early morning and we were the only patrons. He just flew in from Kenya and met with us to give us feedback on progress at the mine.
There was a slight tremor in his hands as he folded back the last piece of paper. The parcel revealed its contents to our eager eyes. I was disappointed. In the centre of the snowy white paper, there was a cluster of green shards of broken glass. I leaned back in my chair. All the fuss and that for a few pieces of glass. I lifted my cup and sipped on my coffee, using it to mask my disillusionment. Not one of us spoke. He looked from my business partner to me. “So, what do you girls think?” Fingering the shards carefully my partner exchanged opinions and information with the big, burley man in a technical language that I did not understand. They both had knowledge of mining, minerals and geology, which I lacked, my field of expertize being human life in its social context. They seemed very excited about the splinters of glass on the table. Their excitement piqued my interest. Leaning forward I asked, “For those of us who don’t speak mining, what is all the excitement about?”
His eyes lit up and with great care, he started to explain to me the value of the handful of green splinter. His excitement was contagious and not before long, my fingers were playing with the fragments. Regardless of his zeal and ability to make the technical information understandable to me, I still could not grasp the worth or value of the chips. Exasperated I exclaimed, “I am sorry, but I just don’t see it!” “Just because you cannot see its value, doesn’t mean that it has no value,” he calmly stated. He reached into his pocket and took a small white envelope from it. “Hold out your hand,” he instructed me. I laid my palm flat on the table. Carefully he dispensed a green jewel into my hand. Speechlessly I stared at the polished fragment in my hand; the beauty of it captivated me. “Starting to see now?” Silently I nodded. “Through my years of experience I know what to look for, but it also requires trusting faith that if I take the effort and do the work on the raw minerals that they will indeed become this glorious beauty of high value. You need to look at them differently; not at what they seem to you, but at their hidden essence and potential.” He closed my fingers over the small jewel in my hand. “Hold onto that one for me, will you?” “No, I can’t!” I protested. “Why not?” “What if I loose it? You said it was valuable. How can you then just give it to me?” Looking deeply into my eyes he said, “I trust you.” I still was not convinced. “I have seen the value that you place on human life; the value that you place on other people I though not worthy of my time or attention. You have the ability to spot the intrinsic value and worth in humans, as I can spot it in raw minerals. We both work with raw material, trusting that our efforts will bring out the hidden beauty within. Let’s agree to trust each other with that which is of high value to us.”
After a moments thought, I whispered back at him, “May we both have the ability to see true worth in its most raw form. May we learn from each other how to bring forth beauty hidden beneath years and layers of history.”