Earlier this week, I pulled a strange little plastic envelope from my mailbox: a packet of liquid fabric softener, intact and seemingly untouched.

I thought at first that it must be some kind of mistake. After all, I don't even use this brand of fabric softener. My mind, usually preoccupied with daily household tasks, was instead clouded with questions: Where did this fabric softener sample come from? Why had it found its way into the mailbox of an average homemaker, of all people? How would it compare with my regular brand of fabric softener? Could it be every bit as good? Might it be less expensive?

I asked myself: Who in their right mind would place a single-use container of softener in my mailbox, a brand that boldly claims to be of a higher quality than that of its leading competitor? It makes no logical sense.

Despite the initial shock, this fabric softener brand was not unknown to me. In fact, it's available, albeit in larger, less inviting quantities, at my area ShopKo, Jewel-Osco Supermarket, Eckerd Pharmacy, or, really, wherever fine laundry products are sold. To tell you the truth, I once considered purchasing this product over my regular brand, just to try something different, but I quickly abandoned the thought, discouraged by the prospect that I would not find it satisfactory.

Whoever left this lesser "trial-size" container only a few short steps from my door would have no way of knowing all of this, of course. Nor could they have predicted how pleasing the pastel colors on the package would be to my eyes, with its cheerful exhortation to "Say Goodbye to Static Cling." I must admit, I am very tempted to test this softener.

One thing is certain about the mysterious individual to whom this sample belongs: He is both devil and savior. What's the worst that could happen if I were to try it? If this stranger should ever come to my door and demand that I replace the laundry product that rightfully belonged to him, I would do so, graciously. But I would also thank him. For whatever turn of fate brought his fabric softener to my mailbox just might result in softer, fresher-smelling clothes for my family.

It would be easy to simply carry on as if this fabric softener sample had never arrived in my mailbox, to pretend this chapter of my life were closed. But I cannot run from the truth, nor from my responsibilities as provider to a husband and three young sons. And, fact is, I put myself firmly in the camp of homemakers who believe that static cling is indeed something to which I'd like to say "Goodbye."

The more I open my mind to this enigma, the more I can view it as a gift rather than a burden. I choose to believe that whoever placed this fabric softener in my mailbox, they did it for a reason.