When Your Ash Wednesday Stinks Like Skunk
If you'll let me, I'd like to walk you through my morning.
6:10am - I let the dogs out to do their morning business. On my way back from turning on the coffee machine, I hear a distant yelp. I holler for the dogs, who come running.
Immediately, I smell something foul. A scent somewhere between a gas leak and dead critter. As quickly as my pre-caffeinated mind can process, I realize one of our beloved canines has gotten sprayed by a skunk. Within 15 seconds time, he's quarantined to the garage. His smell, however, lingers.
6:20am - Husband wakes up and gags. Gives directives about what product we'll need to buy in order to ride ourselves of the stink. I've never been so envious of him heading off to work.
6:55am - He and daughter leave for school and work respectively. I sit down to finish coffee and read my Bible before getting ready to attend Ash Wednesday service. I plan on stopping at the store on my way home from church to get cleaning supplies.
7:25am - I get a call from the school that my daughter must have gotten into a skunk and doesn't smell good. Apparently, she had already told her bus driver and a few boys exactly why she stunk. That made for a fun first recess! I tell them I'll be right there after I throw on some clothes. I call my husband enroute. He's pretty sure he smells like skunk too.
7:40am - After verifying that she doesn't really smell (that bad?), we decided to get her home for a change of clothes, coat and backpack. All of which are housed in the contaminated house and garage, but maybe their scent will be a bit better.
8am - Back to school. If I hurry, I can get to the grocery store, gas station and still make it to Ash Wednesday service by 9 o'clock.
8:55am - I arrive at a local Catholic church where the service has been canceled due to inclement weather.
I'm writing to you now after two more trips to the school. My daughter is hanging in there but they apparently don't want her other coat or backpack on the premises either. I'm also on my fourth load of laundry. Upon emptying my daughter's backpack to wash it, I came across this cute little critter. Im not even kidding.
I tell you all of this because, even on the most sacred days, skunks happen. I attended my first Ash Wednesday service just last year and it touched my spirit. I looked forward to this one today all year long.
Sometimes things don't go as planned. I kept watching the clock all morning, wondering if I'd make it to the church service in time. The thought did cross my mind that maybe going to an Ash Wednesday service wasn't in God's plans for me this year. I know I don't have to go. I'm never sure what to do with those thoughts though. On the one hand, maybe God wants to know the level of our commitment. I was more than happy to leave my (stinky) house for a few hours and attend a church service. Surely in the few seconds I stood before the priest, he wouldn't catch the lingering smell of skunk?
Or was God trying to focus my attention on things at home, where He wanted me today? If so, He certainly got my attention. Perhaps He didn't really have a hand in any of this morning's happenings at all, other than to keep me from screaming at the top of my lungs.
My little girl has stuck it out at school. I've prayed for her at least a dozen times. I'm thankful for her compassionate teacher who I know is handling the situation with discretion. We just started a new activity where right before she gets on the bus, I tell her to spend her day practicing one of the Spirit's fruit. On the way to school (for the second time this morning) I asked her if she remembered today's fruit. In a disgruntled voice, she muttered, "Joy."
I told her to be in prayer about what she could be joyful about today.
But mom, that's going to be sooooo hard now.
What a lesson to learn at such a young age. Sometimes we have to choose joy in spite of our circumstances.
I didn't make it to an Ash Wednesday service this year. My penance will have to take place here at home surrounded by loads of laundry. That seems fitting too somehow. Last year, I remember wondering how long I should leave the ash cross on my forehead. This year, I'm wondering how long this scent will linger instead.