Precious Pilgrim,

"Has anyone told you you're looking pretty today?" the gentleman said.
"Goodness, you sure are spreading joy around!" I commented.
"Well, I just thought someone should tell you."

I wanted to continue this enchanting conversation with this older, mysterious man (notice I didn't say tall, dark, and handsome), but he was seated right behind me on the plane and it would have been a little awkward to just turn around and say, "Hi! Let's talk!" I mean, it's all right for a two-year-old to stand up in her airplane seat and talk to the person seated behind them. It's expected behavior, right? At least, it is for my grandchildren. But somehow, it's not for someone of my age or supposed maturity. So I just had to stay strapped in and restrained and will have to write a written dialogue with you instead of a vocal one with him. Plus, my mama told me, "Never talk to strangers."

So here goes. What I'd like to say to the mysterious man via you is "thanks." Thank you for giving me an unexpected little joy gift that lightened my day, but more importantly, reminded me of who I am - a precious child of God - a joy giver - at least, that is what I should be when I'm plugged in with my Maker; when I am so tuned in with Him that His essence just seems to permeate the area. Don't get me wrong. It has nothing to do with Lucy, but with God!

Recently at a leaders' conference, I was given a little sachet of violets with the Scripture 2 Corinthians 2:14 attached: "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." The mysterious man gave me a whiff of that aroma, which I had forgotten all about, for I'd been packing and pouting. I had organized my world, or at least kind of organized my world. I mean, I did what I could, considering I had left everything to the last minute. Do you know that kind of desperate organization, when you leave everything to the last minute so that your list of 20 "to do" items becomes a list of "dumped" items instead of "done," because you have run out of time? Well, this was my morning. I'd dumped everything except packing and felt proud that I'd at least accomplished that feat. And then I was bombarded with children's phone requests to bring warm clothes to Washington! How? And when? Didn't they know I'd already finished organizing and packing and I hadn't left any room for winter woolens for four?

I was exasperated! I pulled out the humiliatingly huge duffel bag, the same one that I'd embarrassingly taken once or twice before. The same one that I'd have to pay the porter double to transport, in case he required a hernia operation from carrying it! I invaded closets, grabbing and pulling and stuffing heavy clothes into this bag, all the while huffing and puffing and pouting. I mean, this was not a pretty picture! This was not the mother, the one who's been moaning and groaning because "the children are gone and I'm not needed anymore." I mean, I was bugged and I continued my buggedness all the way to the airport and all the way up the airplane ramp and all the way to my seat. I mean, I am sure that if my countenance was glowing by the time I ran into this mysterious man, it was not from my exposure to God, as in Moses' case, but rather from my agitated state of rush and rage!

"Has anyone told you you're looking pretty this morning?" What a wonderful whiff! "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." Lord, thank You! Thank You for allowing this man to come along and bump me back into Your reality. How often I forget! How often, if my world isn't going just as planned - just as I planned, not You planned, Lord - the old self-centered self surfaces. And gosh, if I get so tired of it, it must really be a burden to You Lord God!

I picture myself as one of Your dumber old sheep, going along, getting off the path and You, my Shepherd, taking the hook of Your staff and catching me around the neck and pulling me lovingly back. This act is required so often, I mean, daily, hourly, that it amazes me that I don't have whiplash!

But I've discovered possibly why I don't have this neck ailment. It's not just because of having a stiff neck, which my Lord knows about, but it's because of "recovery and discovery." These two words were given to me while on this family trip. Our main purpose was to attend the dedication of the Calloway Chapel at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. This beautiful new sanctuary was named for a 96-year-old professor who had taught at the high school for over 70 years. His exemplary Christian life has influenced literally three generations of students.

And it was his comments that blessed me and reminded me of why I don't have constant whiplash. He asked that the chapel always be open so that the students could always come for "recovery and discovery."

"Recovery and discovery." Aren't those two glorious words? When I'm going absolutely off the beaten track and the Lord Jesus gets His hooked staff around my neck and stops me dead in my tracks and pulls me back in and gently says, "This way, Lucy," "This way, Lucy," I can "recover and discover." But it surely doesn't happen in the mad rush of things. It has to be in a place of solace, like this new dedicated chapel, a place where my Lord God can get my undivided attention.

Often my "recovery and discovery" are refocusing and realigning with my Lord is done at the lake, but it can be unexpected places as well - in the chapel of my car - in a closet with the door shut - in an airplane like today with a mysterious stranger.

Lord, You've got my undivided attention! Right now! At this very moment! I love You! (I wonder what I'll fix my friend Carol for supper tonight?) Oh, Lord, forgive me - this wandering mind. Sorry. I'm ready for Your crooked staff again - around the neck, please. It's just how I like it. Pull me in close, Lord, not for R&R time, not for rest and relaxation, but for R&D time - "recovery and discovery time."

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing..." 2 Corinthians 2:14.

How do we keep that aroma of Christ strong? By constantly being in that "recovery and discovery" mode. Find that place of solace where the Shepherd can pull you in, closer and closer...

To Him be the glory!

I am your sister in Christ,

P.S. How is the potency of your pilgrim's perfume today? Might it be becoming a little weak and the scent's starting to fade? Instead of the pure essence of Christ's love being given off, have you become a little watered-down sheep? I know I have. The perfume is faint and more cologne-like for me. I know my distracted busyness sure was weakening the solution. Maybe it's also time for you to have a little R&D - rest and discovery. It sure was for me. Just a thought sent with love.