This is the season for east winds in our neck of the woods, but they’ve been blessedly absent until last week when we had quite a blow. The kind of blow that puts everyone on edge, not just because of the excess of positive ions, but also from the fear of fires that often catastrophically erupt during this kind of weather. Such a contrast from the day before when I leisurely puttered in the garden pruning, thinning, weeding the fullness of late summer overgrowth. Even with all I removed, the garden was still full and lush.

Then the east winds blew. Everyone hunkered down indoors if possible, and waited for the winds to blow themselves out. Then we checked for wind-driven havoc about the yard, like an unfurled patio umbrella wedged between the house and side yard fence.  Strangely, though, great piles of leaves were mounded in other parts of the yard than usual. Along the coast, southwesterly sundowner winds blow most late afternoons off the ocean up the river valley where we live. Piles of leaves eddy in predicable corners and walkways.  But not after this wind from the east. The predictable corners were completely devoid of debris; major piles appeared elsewhere. And the piles were oddly beautiful with leaves and berries not commonly found in sundowner debris. My curiosity was peaked.

Beginning in the front yard, I swept, stooped, scooped and wondered at the brittle purple debris that looked like delicate fuchsia leaves, the notched papery leaves mixed with Japanese maple leaves and red nandina berries. I was sure that when I swept my way to the backyard the Japanese maple would be stripped of leaves. To my amazement the tree was still full of pale amber leaves. But the fuchsia beneath it had been stripped of eighty percent of its leaves. Likewise, the yellow abutilon next to it. A rose bush had been completely stripped of leaves. There was unexpected stripping everywhere.  

As I continued the garden clean-up, I began to reflect when in my life had I been unexpected stripped. An old dream came to mind involving a skunk. A prophetic dream of deliverance, a dream of promise that we would be rescued from a “skunk” menacing us in real life. It was such a hopeful dream what I wanted to memorialize it in some way. So, in my usual fashion, I went questing for a skunk…maybe a small figurine or a stuffed animal. Easier said than done. No stuffed skunks. No small figurines. Only a large resin figurine of a winsome skunk with her head lowered and her tail raised. Her name was Madeline. And she cost $50. NO WAY was I going to spend 50 bucks on a skunk knick-knack with a girl’s name. Especially since the real skunk was a guy.

So I left the store empty-handed except for the memory of Madeline and the little story attached around her neck. It told how all the other creatures in the forest were attracted to the little skunk and wanted to be her friend. But she was afraid, often turning her back and raising her tail to spray those that got too close. The story ended saying that eventually all the other animals went away and left her sadly alone.

Well, that’s just the kind of story that has a way of nagging at you. Nagging. And nagging. Eventually, I had to face the reality that I didn’t like the skunk being named Madeline because it really meant Mad Lynne and I had to face my own “skunkiness” in the drama represented in the skunk dream. I had to face my own fear and all the ways I raised my tail and sprayed others in an effort to protect myself from perceived harm. Talk about an unexpected stripping. Yet it was a prophetic dream of deliverance. If I couldn’t change some of the turmoil chaotically swirling around us, at least I could deal with my fear in more constructive ways. That was worth memorializing.

Madeline has resided on the fireplace hearth upstairs in our great room for the last eighteen years. Recently I gave her a bath. Her tail is still raised, but she didn’t spray me. We’ve made friends with one another. It was worth every penny – all five thousand plus tax.

Have you ever experienced an unexpected stripping? How have you made friends with that stripped experience? If so, have you ever memorialized it? If you were to create something to memorialize an unexpected stripping, what would it be?

I’m looking forward to what you might share.



4 comments to Stripped

  • Maureen

    As usual you start one place and end amazingly somewhere else. The metaphor of the skunk and the stinkiness is especially apt for me today. Thank you always.

  • Judy Siudara

    I was stripped of my identity, became a baby in a grown-up body, after a brain aneurysm and stroke. I had to learn to walk,talk, eat, and pee and poop like an adult when I woke up from the coma. I have had a remarkably wonderful life of growth and new people and experiences from this 101/2 month imprisonment. Perhaps the biggest is an affection and drawnnesss to aged people. I play piano and entertain in several nursing homes and visit w/ several aged people. I would memorialize it in a series of scultures, starting w/ a sleeping baby and going through a young adult woman. I’m not quite grownup to my chronological age again yet.(Was I ever?)

  • Sara Blackburn

    I was stripped of friends in my life between college and the start of my career. I was in one of those places where I was stuck and unjustly discontent. God chose to strip me of all former friends in my life. Most moved away after college and them my last two close friends married each other leaving me feeling very very alone in the world. I developed a very “skunky” attitude with life and it wasn’t until I realized that God wanted me to be content with my situation that new friendship began to grow. I still wasn’t happy, I didn’t want to be where I was geographically, vocationally or socially. Through that unhappiness, I learned that one can be content in the midst of an unhappy circumstance. I renewed my trust that God did know what He was doing in my life and that He did still have a good plan for me. I resolved to be okay with that period of waiting. Once I made that decision, God brought an amazing group of friends in to my life and then seven months later moved me away from them to begin the career that He had planned for me all along. I cherish that stripping in my life as that is what allowed me to be willing to Oklahoma where God brought me into this wonderful ministry.

  • “We grow into our true selves, not by adding more to them, but by stripping and emptying them of our addictions to power, prestige and popularity. . . What is left in us when all is taken away? When our cover is blown, when the image is shattered, how do we look naked, ridiculed, crucified? It is not easy to look good on wood.” Daniel J. O’Leary

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