Bang, bang, bang! Our metal screen door rattled loudly. Roscoe, our miniature beagle, began baying and jumping in glee. My husband sprinted forward and began to open the door to invite our visitor, Pastor Bear, into our home. This was his welcome visit to get to know us as potential new members of his church. 

Meantime, I was trying to get my arms around our bouncing dog to prevent him from completing his usual greeting – a very inappropriate and embarrassing leg jumping. As I was reaching down to catch Roscoe, our two cats decided to join in the excitement and raced between my legs. I yelped in surprise, stepped on a cat, the cat screeched and I used an inappropriate word as I fell into the door, slamming it shut in Pastor’s face. 

Personally, if I’d been on the other side of the door I would have backed away, dashed down the steps and made a fast track for home. A baying beagle, swearing woman, screeching cat and door in the face should have been enough. RUN!! 

He stayed. For the second time that night, my husband opened the door and welcomed him in. By then I had picked my chagrined self up, tucked the dog into my arms and shooed the cats to the back of the house. As he stepped into our living room, Pastor Bear met my red hot cheeks and tight embarrassed smile with twinkling blue eyes dancing with merriment and an open, forgiving grin. 

I invited him to have a seat and excused myself to put the dog in the kennel. As I turned, behind me I heard a loud crunch, a thump, and finally a loud “OH!!” As Pastor sat down in our rocker, its leg broke, sending him flailing backwards into the wall! 

In the midst of the excitement, Roscoe leaped out of my arms and ran to Pastor whose legs were now dangling freely. Roscoe began barking and jumping up and down on Pastor Bear’s now defenseless leg. My husband ran forward to help Pastor up and I tried to distract the dog by redirecting him to his favorite stuffed animal. Unfortunately, his stuffed animals is…. a teddy bear. So while my husband is helping Pastor Bear get up, I’m yelling at the dog, “Go get BEAR! Go get BEAR!” 

Poor Pastor Bear. First he hears me swearing at my crazy dog and screeching cats. Next I seat him in a broken chair that knocks him to the wall and now I’m siccing my dog on him!

Once again, my calm and steady husband came to the rescue. He helped Pastor up from the broken chair, got him seated in our soft, sturdy sofa and put the dog and stuffed bear into the kennel. Pastor’s face was a bit pale but he still had a wide smile and his eyes crinkled at the corners. 

I pulled myself together, offered coffee and cookies and we settled into what I hoped would be a normal conversation. Alas, it was not to be. Unfortunately, the cats found a “toy” -- a live mouse. It ran down the hall, under the broken chair, across the living room and under the sofa where Pastor was seated. The cats thundered after the mouse and promptly situated themselves on either side of the sofa. They flattened down, twitched their tales in unison and stared at the spot where the mouse escaped. 

My husband didn’t move or make a sound. Eyes opened wide, I pulled my feet up onto my chair and squirmed as far away as I could without climbing onto its back. I hate mice. 

Even for a gracious, accepting, kind Pastor, enough was enough. He shook his head, his smile spread across his face from cheek-to-cheek and he stood up. He stepped between the two cats, leaned toward me and grasped my two shaking hands in his calm, firm, warm ones. 

“Thank you for this visit. It’s been….. memorable…. I look forward to seeing you in church again on Sunday and hope you’ll join our congregation. I’m confident you’ll bring new energy and excitement into our church family.”

He then shook my husband’s hand, opened the door and stepped onto the porch. I swear I heard the rumble of deep, rolling laughter as he walked to his car. 

Two weeks later, we joined the church. Pastor Bear met with us in his office to complete the paperwork.