September 21, 2015

Much of the quality time I spent with my father over the years took place in his garage. If we weren’t in the garage we had our heads under the hood of a car outside of the door of the garage. That garage had a particular smell to it. Not a bad smell… just a unique one. I suspect it was some combination of oil, grease, and old things that he couldn’t bear to get rid of. We moved when I was 14 to a different house with a smaller garage. Many of the things from the original space were moved and the new crowded place eventually smelled the same as the old one. His garage was like mine… or shall I say mine is like his was… messy and filled with nondescript “stuff.” A couple of years before he died he asked me to come over and clean his garage and take all of the things that he had kept for years to a dump or scrap yard. Even then he couldn’t bear to part with a lot of it. I would hold each item up and he would say “uhhh, no you better put that back… it could be used for ______” I sadly returned one thing after another knowing that the next time someone touched them my father would be gone.

Some of the things in his stash that day made their way to my garage where they have sat for the past 14 years. There must not have been enough to allow the smell to permeate my messy space because my garage does not smell like his. Yesterday it was time to finally throw it all away… electric motors that had been operating something since before I was born; a horizontal shaft, 2 1/2 horsepower engine that was on my go cart when I was 10. Some copper tubing… and sundry other items and junk. I placed them all in my van yesterday. Imagine my shock when I got in today to take it all to the scrap yard and I smelled my dad’s garage for the first time in 14 years. I guess the van was small enough to allow the smell to concentrate in that compact space. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that a tear or two came to my eyes.

You know our senses can be SO powerful. A smell we have not detected in years can take us to another place and time; the sight of something we have not seen since childhood can move us beyond words; a voice from the past can cause the aforementioned tears to roll… I wonder how often we think about the fact that all of our senses can be and should be used in some capacity to worship God? That being said, because so many of us are trained to be “reverent” (better known as “stifled in our emotions”) or “afraid to be vulnerable,” we don’t often use many of our senses within the confines of the church walls. I think worship, as best we are able, should run the gambit of emotions and to the best of our abilities should use all of our senses.

It might be an interesting study to use a concordance and find everyplace in the Bible where senses are used. Do you know what a concordance is? It’s a device that allows us to find verses based on one word. You might be familiar with Go to the website and type a word into the search engine. It will tell you every verse in the Bible where that word appears. Take for example the word “smell.” The first two listings are not unlike my story above:

Genesis 8:21
The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Genesis 27:27
So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.

The smell of someone or something elicits a response… first from the Lord and second from Isaac.

Last weekend my son Ben was married. I didn’t do the service. I told my kids a long time ago that I just wanted to be their dad on their wedding day. My dear and long time friend (and mentor) Dale Craig conducted the service. Dale was responsible for both Ellen and I coming to the faith while in High School. When I hear his voice I am transported back to a crowded, nondescript living room in 10th grade hearing the Gospel for the first time. Forty five years ago and the sound of his voice makes it as if it were yesterday.

So, what are you hearing, or seeing, or touching, or smelling or even tasting that draws you to the Gospel? It might be a good idea to pay attention to those things.
I got rid of all that stuff in my van today but it still smells like my dad’s garage. I ought to open the windows and let it air out a bit… NAH!!!



4 thoughts on “Senses

  1. Well , THAT sure triggered some memories ! My father died when I was 18 and thought I knew it all . About twenty years later , I opened a box that contained his Bible and a small loose-leaf journal he kept in his last years . When I opened each , I could smell my Dad . When I was younger , I cannot remember noticing that he had his own smell , but there it was , as the scripture describes , a welcome , comforting aroma .

    Alex P.S. It was great visiting Mt. Vernon again , and seeing you and Ellen ! Sent from my iPad


  2. Hey Bill. You are a very excellent story teller. This Friday begins our men’s retreat, with 12 guys from St Thomas. Based on your suggestion from a year ago August, I have asked the men to bring some object that connects them with an important man in their life. Wish you could be part of the retreat. Love you brother

  3. Dear Bill, Re: Senses It really made me smile to read your post for I too have memories of certain pleasant aromas that I hold dear to my heart. I’m glad to hear that someone other then myself experiences the same. Thanks for sharing. Pat

    Sent from my iPhone


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