Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Marin

In our visit to the ‘shed’ yesterday, we discussed the sense of taste, which I personally believe is one of the strongest of the seven senses.  The memory of something that tastes either good or bad can be so strong that just saying or even thinking about something associated with that taste brings it out of the memory and into the mouth. After all, how many times have you thought of something and said, “I can just taste it right now?”

The topic of the lesson in our woodshed class today involves another of the seven senses, smell. Many times smell is closely associated with taste. If I can’t get it past my nose, I’m probably not going to be able to get it in my mouth.

Of course, there were those times back home on the farm where we just had to put a clothes pin on our nose, and put a severe test on the ol’ taste buds, or go to bed hungry. Hence, my lifetime disdain for boiled okra, turnip greens, raw oysters, etc. I’ll grab a cold biscuit and head for the ‘mater patch if I smell any of that stuff cooking in the kitchen!

Am I safe in saying that there are some smells that you probably run from, also? Take scrambled eggs, for example. Helen’s gag reflex meter goes off the chart when I’m in the kitchen scrambling eggs and making omelets. Before I’m even finished, she’s trying to run the aroma (and me!) out of the house with a can of Lysol.

And just the other day my tennis shoes (ok, sneakers – I don’t play tennis any more!) got wet in the rain. I’ll admit. They were a little ‘gamey’ the next morning. But it was more than a little embarrassing when she called out the bloodhounds to help her find where I had left them the night before. I should have just scrambled some eggs for breakfast. That would have made her forget about my smelly shoes! And after a long day of yard work, she makes me strip to my ‘skivvies’ on the back porch. Thank the Lord for all those trees in the back yard!

Is it not comical how we humans use terms like aroma and fragrance if we’re describing the smell of flowers and perfume. But you just let my feet sweat a little in my sneakers, and you-know-who starts using words like stink, and reek, and cow patty, and septic tank, and skunk! Back home at Route 4, we never had to worry about the septic tank. Don’t have to worry about overflow when you don’t have runnin’ water.  But just pray that the wind doesn’t blow uphill from down behind the smokehouse!

And just the other day I was watching a football game. The announcer was describing the outcome of the game. One of the teams had failed to score, and he said, and I quote, ‘they got skunked.’ And on the post-game interview, the coach of the skunked team confirmed it. The first words out of his mouth were ‘We really stunk it up out there today.’ I wanted to call in and suggest that he change the name on their jerseys to POLECATS.

But there are some wonderful smells, too. Like the freshness of an April shower. Or new hay in the barn. Or a little baby after a bath. Or a cake in the oven. Or a ripe watermelon when you first cut it open. And you always can tell what your neighbor’s grilling when the breeze blows toward your house.

I think we all can agree on this. When it comes to our sense of smell, there are aromas. And there are odors. Some things make our mouth water. Others make our eyes water. Send me your list and we’ll compare notes. And while you’re doing that, let’s all consider this question. How do our lives smell to those around us?

And I’m not just talking about smelly shoes and sweaty work clothes. How ‘bout ‘stinkin’ thinkin’? And gutter talk like profanity and vulgarity. Or attitudes and actions that make us smell like a stopped-up sewer.  Like gossip, hate, holding grudges, an unforgiving spirit, jealousy, and envy just to mention a few. That stuff gets all over us like white on rice.

My buddy in the bathroom mirror and I have to talk every day. He always wants to know if people feel like reaching for a can of spiritual air freshener when I leave the room. And I confess, there’s just so much of that stuff in the world we live in, sometimes, at best, I let a little of it get on me. It’s like we used to say back home at Route 4. Don’t go barefooted in the barnyard. If you follow the herd (crowd), you just might step in something that smells bad.

But, wait, there’s Good News! Our lives should not make people hold their noses. There is a way for us to avoid smelling like my sweaty sneakers. What if our lives ‘smelled’ like the rose petals that the flower girls drop at a wedding? That’s the aroma and fragrance that we leave behind us if Jesus is at home in us.

Paul smelled like the donkey he was riding on going down to Damascus that day. But God found him and cleaned him up and Paul became a sweet smell in God’s nostrils for the rest of his life. In fact, in his second letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul thanked God for using him to spread the ‘fragrance of Jesus’ everywhere he went (2 Corinthians 2: 14-16).

We, too, used to smell like something rotten before we’re saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. But now it is our responsibility to spread His aroma, the fragrance of life, I believe Paul calls it. And we can use it to ‘wash the feet of all we meet’ on the dirt road of life. So, what fragrance am I wearing today?

Is it freshly baked bread from the oven or ‘eau de sweaty sneakers?