Beth went to a reunion today and when she came back she smelled. It wasn’t a bad smell but it was a scent of perfume that makes my nose itch, a lot. “Whew, I can tell where you’ve been and who you’ve been around!” I jokingly told her. She laughed and agreed. The smell was so pervasive she changed clothes so I wouldn’t scratch my nose off my face.
Scientists tell us the sense of smell is one of our most powerful. It can conjure memories, warn us of danger, alert us to life and death, repel us, attract us, make us hungry, turn our stomachs, welcome us or tell us to stay away.
The Book of Numbers, in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 15, verse 14 reads; “If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do.”
A lot of talk, arguing, and choosing sides about the families and individuals coming to our national borders looking for a new home lately. They smell of desperation and hope. When they arrive I wonder what they sense about us? Do they catch the scent of kindness, love, welcoming or a scent unpleasing to them and to God? What we do, allow done, to the foreigner, the alien, the stranger, the helpless, the hopeless, among us reveals who we are and the God we serve.
This morning I went grocery shopping. As one who doesn’t care for shopping, it’s odd to find me roaming the aisles. However, Beth hasn’t been feeling well so it was my husbandly duty. On the list was eggs so I found them and as I was putting them in the cart I remembered to open the carton and check to make sure none were broken. There wasn’t any so I gently put it into the grocery cart and went to find the next item on my list.
When Beth and I were first married we went grocery shopping together one time and were buying eggs. I picked up a carton and placed it in the buggy without checking to see if any were cracked. A kind elderly man standing near us said; “You might want to check those eggs to make sure none are cracked or broken.” We did and there were several that were in bad shape. We thanked the man, retrieved another set of eggs, and from that day forward haven’t forgotten to check the eggs or think about the man who taught us this valuable lesson.
The encounter with the older gentleman might many years ago changed the way we did things. His advice helped us look beneath the surface and double-check what we were taking home. After finishing shopping today I wondered; “Have I done anything this week to change anyone’s life longterm, for the better?”
Corner of My Eye –
This morning I stopped by our main offices to pick up a package and papers which had arrived. As I was leaving the building, looking through my mail, a person caught the corner of my eye. However, my interest was in my hands, not in anything else. “Hi! How are you?” I stopped in my tracks and looked up to see the person asking the question was a co-worker. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there!” I hastily replied not wanting to come off rude just unobservant. “How was your weekend?” I inquired and we chatted briefly. She left to go inside and I climbed into my truck.
Once inside I thought about my response; “I didn’t see you there.” It was an honest confession albeit not a good one. I did see someone, a shape, a movement, someone not important enough to tear myself away from looking at the package I received. When I realized it was someone I knew my demeanor and perspective changed. However, the truth is that if it wasn’t someone I knew I never would’ve given the person a second glance. I want to change that. I want to “see” everyone, acknowledge each person I possibly can, not give extra attention simply because I know them but because they are worth looking at, engaging and connecting.
I want to see every “You” there.
There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.
It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.
Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.
Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.