The entire week had been filled with study and preparation for the women's one-day retreat in Campbell, NY. Excitement bubbled in my heart as I backed down the driveway and headed south on 390. Lord, keep me in the palm of Your hand ... open hearts ... put Your words in my mouth. His peace enveloped me as I drove to minister.
The next 24 hours wizzed past and all too soon I was back in my car on the way home. Memory of the women's faces streamed through my mind while snippets of their shared stories created a chorus of prayer in my heart. I'd made so many new friends, good friends, I wished I could bring home with me. Lord, thank you, thank you, I am so grateful for this time. Seal Your words in their hearts and let them forget anything that wasn't of You.
The drive was joyous. I marveled at how good I felt. I looked forward to being home again and could hardly wait to share with my friends and family how wonderful the weekend had been. However, when I pulled in the driveway I immediately noticed something very strange. The front and back doors were wide open and the storm windows were pulled down exposing screen. My son (who rents the back apartment) wasn't home.
"Oh great ... now we're heating the entire yard?"
How can he go someplace and leave all the doors open? Annoyance rose in my heart as I walked into my very chilly house only to find every window open and candles burning on every surface.
"What's going on in my house?" I repeated over and over again as I walked from room to room looking for clues. "Looks like they had a seance for crying out loud!"
I heard the shower running upstairs and soon my granddaughter appeared wrapped in a towel.
"What's going on in my house?" I bellowed.
"Uh ... Oden got sprayed by a skunk ... like really bad."
Suddenly I felt a giant thud as my joyous weekend came crashing down to reality.
"Don't worry, my Dad gave him a bath so he doesn't stink as bad," she reported.
"In your bathtub!"
I rushed in the bathroom to have a look at the damages I was sure awaited me. Everything appeared as I'd left it except for a thick, low-hanging cloud of burning pine and banana-bread candles mixed with skunk urine! It smelled as if a container of cat pee and vomit had exploded in a gift shop! The smell was also mixed with unknown properties from the animal world my nose had never experienced! Totally indescribable!
"I can't believe this," I mumbled deliriously as I staggered around the house closing windows before the furnace blew up. "Why didn't God give me a little, fur ball to cuddle instead of this ginormous beast?"
I called a friend for some needed sympathy. "Hey ... welcome home, how did it go," she cheered.
"You'll never guess what I found when I got home."
As I rehearsed the story, all I heard on the other end of the phone were a few gasps and muffled hysterics. "Another funny story to tell," she said.
It's nice to think my friends have this impression of me that I can turn every crazy event into another funny story to tell, but, just once I'd like have a few days off before God gives me material for the next meeting! I don't want to learn anything today please, Lord.
It's only a smell .... I told myself gritting my teeth ... it will go away. Honestly, before you think I have the patience of a saint enduring the presence of this 135 lb giant dog living in the middle of my house - the thought did occur to me that a bullet and a deep hole was a good idea. (Just kidding, he is a w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l dog.)
Some would call this backlash after ministry, or blues after the good news. Some might say it's an attack of the enemy. Maybe it's a little of all of that - or- maybe it's just life. I'm called to live in a sometimes very busy house with a swinging door open to grandkids, boarders, friends, and yes ... a BIG dog!
As the skunk-stench slowly dissipates, and I've had a good night sleep, the lovely faces of those women in Campbell have reemerged to stir my heart to prayer again.