Sunday, October 16, 2016

Curious at Night

Monday night, as per our usual routine, Bob put our scruffy dog Tank out.  Our condo has a backdoor in the kitchen that leads to a small fenced in yard.  I was upstairs, brushing my teeth when Bob came upstairs and announced ‘your stupid dog won’t come in.’ I asked ‘so what did you do?’  Bob replied ‘I left him out there.’   Sigh.  I grabbed a flashlight and headed outside to see what was going on.  I found Tank sitting by the fence on high alert, all attention focused on the gap between the fence gate and the fence.  He was curious at night.

Silly me, I said to Tank, ‘what’s over there?’  I put his leash on, opened the fence and he led me (pulling on the leash frantically) over by the garbage cans in the driveway.    All of a sudden: BAM!  THE SMELL!  SKUNK!  No noise, not even barking from Tank, just STINK.  I pulled Tank back into the fenced yard and both stunned, we headed back toward the deck and house.  I brought Tank into the kitchen.  Tank furiously started rolling around the kitchen floor, clearly trying to get the direct hit skunk juice off his face.  I hollered for Bob.  Bob bolted down the stairs, yelling ‘OMG, THE SMELL, THE SMELL, THIS IS BAD, OMG, THE SMELL.’  If you know my husband, you have a very clear picture right now of the DRAMA.  You’d think the world had ended.  Even he admitted later that he might have over reacted.  Sigh.  So I carried Tank upstairs to the bathroom and closed the door.  Sigh.  10:30 at night and instead of curling up in my warm bed, I was bathing my dog.  Oh and my dear husband was outside the bathroom door still FREAKING OUT.  He opened the door and handed me rubber gloves and a bucket of cleaning solution.  When he opened the door, he loudly shouted ‘OMG, THE SMELL, THE SMELL’ and I heard audible gagging noises.  Sigh. Despite his freaking out, he was quite helpful.  

For those who wonder, tomato juice is a myth.  According to Google searches, tomato juice is not the solution for a skunked dog.  The best cure for skunked dog is a bath with Dish Detergent, Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda.  The formula for the best solution for skunk is listed below, in case any of ever have a dog who is curious at night!  Oh, but don’t get the solution in the dogs eyes.  That was kind of hard to do, given that he was skunked in the face, but I managed.

Formula for Best Cleansing Solution for Removing Skunk Smell from a Dog

                ¼ cup baking soda
                1 Teaspoon Dish Detergent (Dawn or similar)
                1 quart of Hydrogen Peroxide

I bathed Tank.  Thankfully he was pretty calm in the tub and after two latherings and several rinses, I figured, that was the best I was going to do that night.  I used my blow dryer to try to get him partially dry.  Exhausted I brought him downstairs, told him to ‘go to bed’ and he curled up in his bedding corner in the kitchen. He wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy, but we were moving on.   It still smelled pretty strongly of skunk in the kitchen, up the stairs, in the hallway and in our bedroom.  I collapsed into bed and tried hard not to engage with my dear husband as he asked ‘why did you let Tank explore over by the garbage cans – what were you thinking?’  I simply said ‘I did not go out with the intention of having Tank get skunked.’  I honestly did not anticipate that his curiosity was going to lead to that result.  I should have anticipated that a curious dog at night would result in getting skunked, but I just didn’t.  Maybe I’ll remember this experience and never again allow Tank to follow through on his curiosity at night.

On Thursday night, I had a different experience with curiosity at night.  This one had a much more positive outcome.  I had heard of an event in Boston called Q Commons.  It’s an event at over 100 cities around the world where they offer 3 local speakers and 3 national speakers (simulcast) to address the most compelling topics in today’s world.  It’s an event that is held twice a year – fall and spring and I eagerly signed up to participate.  The format was interesting – each speaker got 9 minutes and then at two separate intervals there was an opportunity to discuss the topics at your table.  I’d love to tell you about all of the topics and all of the speakers, but this blog post would go on and on if I did that, so I’ll focus on one today.  One of the topics was about racism.  A local speaker, a woman from Columbia who works for a non-profit Emmanuel Grace in Boston, described her reality regarding discrimination and racism and frankly I was very surprised by her talk.  She mentioned that her daughter (4 ½ years old) who is part Latino and part Asian would experience discrimination in Boston.  She described that she had suffered from white males, but described two encounters with white males that were positive.  I was shocked.   Here is a woman who is educated, affluent and living in one of the most progressive cities in America and she is experiencing racism and expects her daughter will experience it also.  

When the time came for our table talk, I couldn’t help but initiate the conversation at my table about what she said.  The man sitting next to me was from Nigeria.  He was in his early 30’s and an engineer.  The man next to him was from Hong Kong.  He was in his 50’s and I think he was retired.  I asked, is this really the reality in Boston?  How can it be?  The Nigerian man said he had experienced racial profiling in Missouri when he was a student there, but had not experienced racism in Boston.  The man from Hong Kong, said that when he was younger and living in NY, he experienced difficulty finding work because of his race.  I’m guessing that was back in the 70’s.  I had expected that back in the 70’s and in the rural mid-west it exists, but was still surprised and curious about racism in Boston.  

So I remain curious about this.  I don’t want to deny this woman’s reality but part of me wonders, is she so focused on finding racism that she sees it everywhere?  Is she benefiting her daughter by teaching her daughter to expect this or is that going to lead her to a self-fulfilling prophecy?  Part of me wonders if she would better off teaching her daughter that she is strong, smart and capable of anything and not setting her up to expect racism.  Honestly I don’t know and I certainly don’t want to judge this woman and her parenting style.  There is plenty of that going on and I don’t want to be part of any hint of parent shaming.  I’m just so surprised by this and genuinely don’t understand it.   The talk certainly got me thinking about this and talking about this.  I was curious at night, but hopefully as I continue to explore my curiosity, a positive outcome will result.  Since she is local, I’m hoping that I can offer her a cup of coffee somewhere nearby and talk to her about her experience so I can understand it better.

And lastly, one other story about someone who was curious at night.  I am studying the book of John with my Bible Study Fellowship group.  This weeks’ passage was the famous ‘Nic at night’ story.  For those unfamiliar with the passage, a Jewish leader, Nicodemus, went to Jesus at night as Jesus was starting his ministry.  Nicodemus was curious about Jesus and most likely did not want his other Jewish leader friends to see him talking to the highly controversial Jesus, so he went at night to get a one-on-one audience with him.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be ‘born again.’  Now, please, don’t’ stop reading!  I know that the term ‘born again Christian’ gives many of you a very negative reaction because you’ve met some born again Christians that you don’t like very much.  Hear me out and be curious about what this story is all about.  

What Jesus was trying to tell Nicodemus is that when a man (or woman) wants to become right with God, the way it happens is that God sends HIS spirit into the man and makes his heart new again.  The Greek word ‘again’ can mean ‘a second time’ but also ‘from above.’  It refers to the amazing spiritual awakening that happens when a man (or woman) recognizes his or her personal sin, confesses it, and receives a new heart, a new spirit and eternal life.  The rebirth is a beautiful thing.  For me, my rebirth happened over 18 years ago.  Shortly after we moved to MA, I knew my life wasn’t complete.  Although I had accomplished many of the things I had wanted – I was hopelessly unfulfilled.  I had a beautiful home, two healthy and adorable children, a loving and hard-working husband, a promising career and still, despite all this, I felt terribly empty inside.  I wondered ‘I have what I thought would make me happy – is this the best it gets?  If it is, it’s not so great!’  I started my spiritual awakening and found Faith Community Church. There I heard of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  I confessed my sins and declared that Jesus was Lord and my spiritual re-birth began.

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spiritt.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
                                John 3:1-17 NLT

So are you curious about anything at night? Let’s hope your curiosity doesn’t lead you to the garbage cans!  I can think of many things we are tempted with late at night that are the equivalent of the garbage can and skunk experience.   Like Tank and I, we don’t intend this curiosity to have such a negative outcome, but we should.  Please learn from me and DON’T go being curious near garbage – I’m thinking things like gossip, materialism & hate.   You can probably think of some others.  They always lead to STINK and DRAMA and no-one wants that.   I hope instead that if you are curious at night, you will find your curiosity causes you to explore and think differently about some social injustice that may be happening in your community or that your curiosity brings you to contemplate your relationship with God and your desire for spiritual rebirth.


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