We have a skunk family living under our back deck. The big mama skunk came out from hiding when I was hosing down the back deck after planting some wildflowers two days ago.
My daughter and I screamed our heads off and ran into the house. I called the Pennsylvania Wildlife people, and they reacted like this was no big deal and not to do anything. This skunk family has probably been living peacefully alongside of us for years and years.
It comes with the territory; we live near the woods.
I think about what comes with the territory–what we must live alongside–just by being human. I’ve been reading Frederick Buechner, and I love how he says simply, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Don’t be afraid.” And I’m reading about consolation and desolation and how they’ll always be seasons of light and dark, joy and sorrow. Neither stays for long. Things go into hibernation and stay buried deep, but sometimes the terrible things lives right beside you for a season.
Terrible things then beautiful things. Repeat. This builds a life.
I’m not afraid. I swung the back door wide open last night in hopes of seeing the mama skunk parade her babies around the yard in search of food.
Desolate emotional and spiritual times are like living with a skunk. I learn that you just live peacefully with it, with a bit of wonder and curiosity, observing your own heart. Skunks won’t spray unless attacked, and even then, it’s rare. In the meantime, you can watch and learn about whatever comes with the territory of this beautiful, terrible human life.