Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Have you ever read something, and then rubbed your eyes in disbelief? Even to the point of going back and re-reading it? Did that really say what I think it said? That’s exactly what happened to me the other day. And when I ‘splain it to you, you’re gonna think I’m making it up. But my hand on the Bible, this is true.

It landed smack-dab in the middle of my Inbox, courtesy of the good folks at the Anderson Independent-Mail newspaper’s website. The headline on the article said, “South Carolina senators name collards state vegetable.”
Do what? Come again? Well, I read the headline again. Same result. After my Route 4, Seneca, SC mind recovered from shock, I read the short news article under the headline.

It seems that the esteemed (or steamed, pardon the pun) members of this law-making group in Columbia decided to name collard greens as the state’s official vegetable by a vote of 30-12. I told you you’d think I was making it up. Wrong. I made myself a copy of this story just in case.

I try to keep up with things, but I didn’t even know that we didn’t have a state vegetable. Or needed one for that matter. Was it a slow day in the senate? Did they not have enough on their mind already with jobs and the economy and education and budget shortfalls and other important stuff like that?

Or, as I suspect, were they just sittin’ around the State House cafeteria at lunch one day and decided to have some fun? Had they ingested fried chicken, mashed taters and gravy, mac and cheese, rolls, and corn-on-the-cob for the umpteenth day in a row? And someone suggested that there ought to be something on the menu to help make them more regular? And I’m not talkin’ about attendance here, folks.

How would you have liked to listen in on their discussion and debate of this issue? One senator wondered out loud why collards deserved such a high honor, and not something that folks actually cared for. Like green beans cooked in fat back with a streak of lean. Another senator spoke up and said it needed to be a leafy vegetable, and green beans didn’t qualify. Out of order, sir. Sit down and eat your collard greens!

You want to know what I find most interesting about this whole deal? Thank you for asking. It was the vote. We have 46 people in that room under the capitol dome charged with the responsibility of enacting important legislation. And the vote was 30-12. Did 4 people abstain from voting because of a conflict of interest? Maybe they’re in cahoots as silent partners in one of those roadside, u-pick-em collard stands. And what were those 12 nay-sayers holding out for? Poke salad, maybe or cabbage?

I say all that to say this. I sure am thankful for those 30 senators who voted for collard greens. Not that I’m a big fan of ‘em. Or of their cousin, the slightly more popular turnip greens. Just another way to mess up a good pone of cornbread by pouring that pot liquor all over it. But my heart swells up so much, I feel like drivin’ to Columbia to express my eternal gratitude to those 30 folks who voted for collard greens. If they had voted for slick and slimy boiled okra, me and my mill-hill bride would have had to start looking at houses across the state line!

I still have nightmares of Daddy showing us boys back home how to hold that pod of nastiness up about head-high, bite it off at the stem, and let it ooze down our throats. I can say I did it twice – my first and last time all at once. I just wanted to spit it out right there on the kitchen table. But, of course, that would have earned me another merit badge at the woodshed.

And speaking of gettin’ rid of something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, check out this story in Rev. 3:15-16. God was about to take some folks to His ‘woodshed’ for puttin’ such a bad taste in His mouth. He told the folks at Laodicea that He knew all about them, and He was about ready to spit them out of His mouth. They weren’t hot and they weren’t cold. He told them He wished they were one or the other. But they were just lukewarm. Sorta like that boiled okra back home after it’s cooled off enough not to burn your throat. I’d rather chew the bark off a chinaberry tree!

With that in mind, I have to ask myself, “Self, does my life taste like boiled okra in the mouth of Jesus?” Now, you might be a fan of that stuff. And if you are, I’ll pray for you. But try to think of the nastiest, slimiest, gaggin’ stuff that would make you spit it out the second it touched your taste buds. And then ask yourself the same question, “Does my life leave that kind of taste in Jesus’ mouth?” This is just me talking, but it sure seems like many people in the world today are running a huge risk of being spit out of the mouth of God come judgment day.

And if that happens, the place where they would go would leave such a bad taste in their mouth, they couldn’t wash it out with Mother’s Octagon soap.