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It was 7 o’clock on Sunday morning. The sun rising across the Rockfish Valley illuminated snow-capped mountains, leafless trees and fallow fields. Keith was on his second cup of coffee.

“Has Freya come home yet?” he asked. “She’s been out for a while, and Heathcliff hasn’t had his time to do his business yet.”

“No, but I hear her barking,” I said coming in from outside, “and I smell skunk.”

“I guess we’ll be going to second service today.”

Freya slunk up the driveway about 7:45 smelling just like her quarry. Being a digger, she likely disturbed a hibernating skunk. No wonder she got sprayed.

A little over a year ago, we went through this with both dogs – showering with special shampoo, washing dog blankets and beds, leashing the dogs outside to air out the stink.

Life is inconvenient. It has comforts and discomforts, routines and curiosities. When our dogs explore the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells of the mountain, they live a more balanced, interesting life.

I couldn’t help but think of humans and faith in the same light. We need both the familiar and the unfamiliar. “As long as you have mystery you have health,” G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy; “when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.”

As we drove to church, Keith mused, “I wonder if Freya will ever learn to stay away from skunks.”

“It sure would be nice if she did,” I replied.

“Maybe the smell doesn’t bother her.”

“Maybe not, but head down she knows we’re not happy with her.”

I guess it doesn’t really matter if the dogs get skunked every so often. It’s just one of those inconveniences of life.

basementcandleBut while lighting scented candles around the house last night, I couldn’t help praying, “Since skunks are no longer mysterious, perhaps the dogs could find something less stinky to explore.”

Is that too much to ask?

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