I Can Smell You from Here


I’ve been a little disappointed in winter this year in Southern Indiana. The mostly mild weather has left me feeling a little cheated. The lack of snow days makes it difficult for me to accept that Spring is sneaking up on its little lamb-legs when March forgot to roar at all this year.

I realize many of you are thankful for this same weather that I’m lamenting so I’m happy for you in your mildness. But I love the changing of the seasons. I want distinction. I want wide ranging weather changes. I want to know that a season means business when it arrives and I want it to go out kicking, fighting its passing.

Now, I admit Spring is a tough one. It’s subtle. It’s unassuming. Without warning you’ll step out into the crisp, cold air of a morning and notice the tulips poking through the dirt of the flower bed. Or you’ll pull into the drive way on a certain evening, step from the car, and be caught by that one scent that can only mean Spring.

A grill. Someone has lit a grill. Someone is cooking on that grill. Someone who hasn’t invited me to come sample what’s on their grill. The smell of the grill wafting through the neighborhood is both frustrating and a little intoxicating. Don’t pretend not to know what I’m talking about. All of us have stood in place, breathing deeply the grill scent, and wondering which of your neighbors is the culprit.

So I may not know who the ‘someone’ is but I surely know what they’re up to. The aroma gives them away. A simple scent from an unknown grill still gives me a picture of what the griller is like; standing there hungry, hamburger flipper at the ready.

This aroma of Spring always turns my heart to pondering life. I wonder about purpose and responsibilities. I think on friends and influence, on children and old age. What kind of message is my life sending out? What lingering scent do I leave on the people I touch?

You can often discern where someone has been recently by the scent of their clothing: a certain restaurant, in a home with a fireplace, perhaps near a grill. But I’ve decided the same discernment can be made of people’s lives. We smell of the relationships we have and we give hints of our lives by the aroma of our influence.

For instance, I have many good friends who have never met my dad. I must tell you that my dad is very much a man worth meeting and getting to know. But due to circumstances and busy lives, many friends I’ve made in adulthood have never had the good fortune of meeting my dad. But that doesn’t mean they don’t know him.

You see, I believe they know my dad because they know me. He helped form me and he aided in shaping my personality and values. If you’re even half way bright, it wouldn’t take you long to get a good picture of my father from what I’m like. His scent and influence guide me daily. The aroma of my dad’s life floats across the neighborhood of years and you can know what he’s like even without knowing him.

With that in mind, I must pause to be insightful enough to wonder what aroma my life is giving off. We live in a small town and it’s easy for a lot of people to know of you without actually knowing you personally. And I wonder what those people think of me. Better yet, I wonder how those people are being influenced in a positive way by the fact I live in this neighborhood of a town we call home.

If you know my friends, you should know me. I should leave a mark on their lives. They should smell of my presence. And my children will grow to bear some of my thoughts and they will be products of my attitudes and convictions. When you get to know them, you’ll get to know me.

So how is your influence, how are your attitudes affecting your neighborhood? Are you helping to improve the lives of your friends and family so they can go help others? How are we doing taking care of the less fortunate people we encounter so when people see them with a little hope in their eyes, they can sense your scent?

I’m not trying to convince you to be someone recognized as being good. I’m not even trying to convince you to be someone worth knowing. What I want is for you to be such an underlying source of strength and encouragement that the people you know are more worth knowing because of you.

I want your influence to float across my path even though I’ve never met you. I want to stand in my drive way chatting with a mutual friend in whose eyes I see a little more hope because they know you. And when I smell the grills this Spring, I’ll think of you. And I hope you’ll think of me.

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