Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

We like candles around our house. We like ‘em a lot. There’s just something warm and cozy and peaceful about candles. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a church wedding that didn’t have at least a dozen or so candles burning around the altar. And how ‘bout Valentine’s Day? Raise your hand if you had a romantic candlelight meal. On second thought, guys, don’t raise your hands. Some of us will be in BIG trouble. Well, the restaurant did have a little candle burning in a jar in the middle of the table. Does that count?

I took a candlelit trip down a familiar dirt road the other day. Standing in front of a candle display at the store, I was amazed at how many different kinds of candles they have these days. Every shape and size you can imagine. And you can forget the long straight wedding candle. They’re probably on a shelf back in the stock room somewhere.

These days, the latest thing is a candle in a jar. There’s even one that crackles like a fire in the fireplace. I even saw a ‘flame-less’ candle in a jar. My hand on the Bible. That’s what she said. And sure ‘nuff. I picked it up, looked inside, saw the wick and everything. Except a flame. But it did have a glowing light, get this, under the wick. And two triple-A batteries in the bottom of the jar! Just when you think you’ve seen it all.

Back home on the farm in the 50’s at Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina, there were only a couple of things that we never saw in a jar. Sweet ice tea in July. Or vegetable soup for supper that Mother had canned with ‘maters, beans, and corn from the garden. And, yes, some of that slick and slimy green stuff, too. But I picked it out and fed it to the dogs through the knot hole in the floor under the kitchen table while Daddy was saying the blessing! The lesson at the woodshed that day was about wastin’ your food.

And speakin’ of food, some of these candles in a jar smell good enough to eat. With my eyes closed, I was inhalin’ the aroma of watermelon and cotton candy, and wondering if they had a candle in a jar that smelled like cornbread, buttermilk, and pinto beans. I’d take a case of those right now!

I guess I had a glazed look in my eyes. The clerk could probably tell that I was in another time and another place. “Sir, doesn’t this smell just heavenly,” she whispered softy. “It’s our latest fragrance, cranberry apple cinnamon brown sugar with just a hint of coconut.” She could have served it to me with a tablespoon ‘cause my mouth was wide open.

“Or maybe you’d like this one. It’s a winter time favorite.” I drooled as she read the label. “French vanilla frosted pumpkin spice with honey and maple.” What, no pancakes to go with it? But then it suddenly occurred to me. Every jar that she picked up to show me had the candle burning. And the blanket of sweet fragrance covered every single one of my seven senses, or ever how many I’m supposed to have.  

They smelled so wonderfully delicious because the candles were lit. And it wasn’t the size of the light in the jar that mattered. It didn’t have to be a mega-million-watt spotlight. No, it was effective because it was doing what the maker of the candles made it to do. And that was to give everyone around it a pleasant feeling when it was lit. Pretty enough to look at, but you only get the full effect when the candle’s aroma is released by lighting its wick. I would never have been standing there in front of a bunch of jars with the lids still on them. That wouldn’t do a thing for you. And they surely wouldn’t sell very many candles without the open-jar demonstration. You just don’t get the ‘warm fuzzies’ unless the lid is off and the candle is burning.

As my Daddy used to say, “Now ain’t that just the way life is!” If you and I are to be the blessing to those who need a blessing today, we’ve got to do what our Maker created us to do. Let His Light and the sweet fragrance of His unconditional love make those around us want it so bad they can taste it. In the red-letter words of Jesus, recorded in Luke 8:16, our Savior warns against putting our light in a jar and hiding it under the bed. Instead, He instructs us to take the lid off the jar, light our candle and put it out there on display so those coming by can see the Light.

I can’t wait to get back to the candle store. I’ve heard they have a couple of new ones.

Sweet honey suckle and vanilla cupcake.