Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Have you ever stopped to think about just how amazing is this ‘thing’ in our head called a brain? All those cells and molecules, membranes and blood vessels, electrical impulses, and so on and so forth. And then you have all the senses. Like feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, etc. And the brain is sorta like the switchboard that takes all the calls from the rest of your body that’s physically involved in all the senses. Biology and anatomy were never my favorite subjects in school. So let me see if I can get to where I’m going here.

For instance, if I put my hand on Mother’s red-hot wood cook stove back home on the farm, my hand would send a signal to my brain. And my brain would take the call and transfer it to my voice box. The message – scream and holler, bawl and squawl and run up the wall!!

Or when you see the woodshed ‘schoolhouse’ just ahead and your name is carved on the desk, the brain immediately tells the seat-of-your britches ‘this can’t be a pleasant experience.’

Or when you tell your brother ‘you don’t have enough sense to get in out of the rain,’ or call him a really bad word, like dumb or moron, and you fit that category ‘cause you said it loud enough for Mother to hear you – that’s when the brain reminds you how it tastes to have your mouth washed out with soap. Now that’ll leave a taste in your mouth that the brain won’t let you forget!

Do you have another example? Thank you for asking! If you’ve planted some okra seed in your backyard garden, I can ride by your place and my brain automatically flips on a flashing red warning light! See, it records all the millions and millions of things I’ve tasted in my lifetime. And it files all those tastes in mental manilla folders with tabs that say things like YUCK! There aren’t many items in that folder, but slick and slimy boiled okra jumps out of the folder and ‘stands on top of my filing cabinet’ hollerin’ RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

‘Slick and slimy’ had a friend on top of the filing cabinet the other day when Helen and I were having dinner after church with our good friend, Brenda Gastley. Of course, as with any conversation, I try to get in a good word or two for cornbread. But you would not believe what Brenda said. And since you wouldn’t believe it, I’ll go ahead and tell you. She said that she liked to cook some turnip greens and pour the ‘pot liquor’ all over her hot cornbread! I had to grab the phone out of my brain’s hands. It was already dialing 911!

See how amazin’ the brain is? It never lets you forget the things that leave a taste in your mouth – good or bad. I saw a sign on the side of the road the other day that said ‘join us on Monday nights for all you can eat crab legs.’ That’s when my brain starts hollerin’ yes, yes, yes! Go get your wife – she’s gonna love it, too! By the way, in the almost fifty years we’ve been ‘ridin’ around together,’ that’s the only thing my brain can pull out of the file that says ‘don’t get into a crab-leg eatin’ contest with your wife.’ Once again, the amazin’ brain never forgets.

As you’ve already figured out, there are hundreds and hundreds of files in my ‘good taste folder.’ Let me see how quick I can make you drool on your donut. Homemade ice cream, blackberry cobbler, hot buttered cornbread cooked in a cast-iron skillet, cathead biscuits with sawmill gravy and home-grown sausage, a platter full of corn-on-the-cob with a tub of cow’s butter sittin’ beside it, coconut cake with juice running out the side and drowned in ambrosia, my mother-in-law’s hot-out-of-the-oven pound cake, fried apple pies with a golden brown crust. I better stop right there before all this ‘moisture’ shorts out my keyboard!

But you get the message. The amazin’ brain just never lets you forget what you’ve tasted. And once you’ve tasted the good, you don’t ever want to go back to the bad. Do you think I would ever turn down even a half of a fried apple pie for fifty pounds of boiled okra? Would I give up even a teaspoon of ambrosia for a two-horse wagon load of turnip greens and rutabagas? Check your mail. My brain’s sending you a telegram!

The Apostle Peter talks about something that tastes SOOOO good, you’ll never ever want to be without it once you’ve tasted it (1 Peter 2:3). In the first couple of verses preceding, he talks about how newborn babies crave pure milk. He didn’t mention strained carrots and green beans, but babies seem to like that stuff, too. When they’re not spewin’ it out all over you.

But, let me see a show of hands. Everybody who’d rather have a little jar of green mush called English peas tonight for supper instead of a juicy, two-inch thick T-bone steak, raise your hand. That’s what I thought. Not a single hand was raised!

And you know what the difference is? It’s something called ‘growin’ up.’ The things we liked and were good for us when we were babies just don’t hold much appeal for us when we grow up. But we consume the baby food anyway so that we CAN grow up and taste the good stuff. And once we’ve ‘tasted how good God is,’ as Peter says, the brain won’t ever let us forget.

But here’s something else the amazin’ brain does. Every time that guy in my bathroom mirror starts ‘acting like a baby’ in everyday life – you know how babies act – selfish, greedy, spiteful, pitchin’ a fit when we don’t get our way – well, when that happens, the brain sends the guy in the mirror a message – “Boy, what’s it gonna be today –  baby food or chocolate cake?” Then I remember the taste – yellow on the inside with creamy chocolate frosting on the outside. Washed down with a tall glass of ice cold 100-percent milk.

I can just taste it right now!