Monday, July 26, 2010

30 Days of Smell

Day 11: Mystery Smell

I opened the refrigerator yesterday and began to sniff. A smell wafted by my nose from some deep, concealed place—the smell of rotten. I began to look for it, trace it down. I started with the vegetable drawer where I often find the culprit, although not this time. I spun jars and bottles around on the door to look for expiration dates. Nothing obvious there. Finally, in the top shelf toward the back I saw an old container of hummus. I picked it up, looked at the date—which was well past due—and saw on the inside a clump of gangrenous-looking mold. Yuck!

My sleuthing and finding of the mystery smell took the use of all my senses. I looked around. I heard containers clang as I shifted them, careful not to knock them over. I touched them and rotated them for better viewing. I let my smeller direct me toward the source of the stench. The only sense I didn’t use was taste—for obvious reasons! My other senses provided enough evidence to be convinced that I had found the offender.

This experience makes me think of Martha’s protest when Jesus suggested that someone role away the stone at Lazarus’ tomb. “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Refrigerators are a bit like tombs: cold, dark and dank. Sometimes they conceal dead things, rotting things that indeed stinketh.

Even within our own hearts are concealed places, cut off from light and cold as death. In those places lurk past wounds, sinister lies and cruel secrets. To discover them, we must trace the rank smell of death. That requires all of our senses and the desire to eliminate the source. Do you long to search out the places in your own heart that stinketh? Why not begin with some questions for spiritual direction:

• Where do you smell the stench of rottenness in your life?
• If you were to hunt it down, what containers would you open?
• What experiences, events or relationships have left a bitter taste in your mouth?
• What’s the expiration date? When were these hurts sealed inside you?
• Where do you hear the cries of your soul for healing and resurrection?
• Are you willing to open the container to God and let him deal with the contents?

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