Sunday, February 12, 2012 any other name would still smell like onion.

I hate onions.

Ironically, my relationship with onions began quite early.  You see, I was blessed to know my great grandmother Mabel Clara Hooper.  We all called her "Maw".  I don't remember this, but I'm told that when I was a baby, she gave me a large hunk of raw onion to suck on.  Seeing as I'm still bothered by the idea, I have no idea what my response actually was, but in any case the experience and the retelling became part of the infant "back story" to the life I lived as a child.

Mabel Clara Hooper (Maw)
Maw cooked with onions and ate onions for snacks.... Personally I think that by the time I was a baby all of her taste-buds were probably dead because she also salted her oatmeal......  She never tolerated personal tastes at her dinner table.  If there was a dish that you didn't prefer, she would simply state that you must not have had said food the way that "Maw makes it."  Of course if you had her black eyed peas, or collard greens or whatever else she was cooking that day, of course you would like it!  She made it!

Later when I was in grade school, my parents found themselves in possession of what must have been several bushels of green tomatoes. So they decided to make Chow Chow as Christmas presents for everyone they knew.  ..... I never actually ate any of their infamous concoction, but I know that they worked on it for FOREVER!  While they worked they spent what seemed like hours on the phone with Maw in Abilene who must have been the only one in their acquaintance who had actually made it before.  At the time, my bedroom was directly off of the kitchen, and since it was cold outside there was absolutely no way I could escape the overwhelming stench of way too many onions. Apparently Chow Chow has more onions than tomatoes in it.....In terms of tear production the only thing worse than chopping onions with a knife is using a hand grinder bolted to the table..... THAT will make you cry!   Everything in the house smelled like onions for what seemed like forever.  The funny thing is that the smell did go away and all that was left to prove that our house had ever been taken over by onion stench was a set of nice and neat mason jars filled with Chow Chow.     From that Christmas on, everyone in my family asked for more Chow Chow....apparently all of the adult taste buds enjoyed it immensely.... I wouldn't know.

Although you'll never catch me eating an onion ring, I've actually come to appreciate the culinary attributes of your average onion.  Maybe my taste buds are dying off like Maw's.....I even cook with onion if I think that they will add to the recipe.  At Thanksgiving I am the official maker of all things "non-turkey".  I start with the cornbread dressing.   Once the onions and celery are in the pan, Thanksgiving has begun!  LOVE that smell as much as pumpkin pie because it smells like Thanksgiving.   At moments like that, even I have to admit that a little bit of good onion gives good flavor to everything that it touches.

The problem with liking to cook is that I'm single.  I cannot possible consume or share all that I would enjoy making.  I do my best to grocery shop conservatively but it's no secret that most of the time buying single servings of anything is a really expensive way to shop.  So I have been known to keep an onion or two on hand in case I get the urge to cook something.  There I go hauling my stash of fresh produce up the stairs before my arms break.  I put everything away with lofty plans of all of the cool and nutritious meals I will make.  For days after my shopping trip I smile every time I go into my kitchen where I have the pretty lemons, onions and garlic all displayed on my counter..... not to mention the veggies "crisping" in the fridge..... Look how pretty, how domestic, I AM a kitchen diva!

Then one day I come home from work and open the door and a wave of yucky smell hits me and I know that something in my apartment has gone bad before I could cook it..... I immediately start the hunt and once I locate the offending rotten onion, I'm moving as fast as I can to get it out of my place before I start to gag.  GROSS!

Enough about onions!

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.  And who is equal to such a task?  Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.  On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God - 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 

I've always loved this passage of scripture.  In this passage we are told that WE are the "pleasing aroma" of Christ!  Right away I want to ask myself, or maybe I should ask someone else, how do I smell?

However,  today as I was reflecting, it occurred to me that perhaps it's our response to our circumstances that give us this "pleasing aroma".  Certainly an onion in the grocery store has a smell, but NOTHING compares to the aroma of an onion when it is pressed, ground up or when heat is added.  Pretty much the only onions that are unusable are the ones that have to be thrown out because they are rotten.

We've all been through times when because we were pressed through circumstances we've seen the real content of our hearts.  If we find rot/sin, we must confess it and throw it out and repent.

Could it be that our testimony of God's faithfulness through rough days is more pungent and carrying in light of our suffering?  Of course!  We each know folks who through their darkest days, when they were really ground down by circumstance, they were able to praise God and attest to His goodness.  Their testimonies carry more weight because we know that that ONLY God could have seen them through! Their words are life giving!

I have friends who are currently going through some pretty heavy stuff at this very moment who feel pressed on all sides.  There are jobs that are needed, there are adoptions that have come to a standstill, there are sick loved ones and broken hearts.  In each case, because of their utter dependence on God, these folks  are living as a "pleasing aroma".  They are smelling wonderful as they rest in Him to carry them through.  None of them know what the outcomes will ultimately be, but they each have unshakable certainty that Christ is leading our triumphant procession.  For they hold within them the reality that:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Somehow I think  these same folks also have beautiful feet because what is a sweet aroma if not the good news of Christ?

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! Romans 10:15a

Dear Lord,
Thank you for your many blessings that are too numerous to count.  Please help me to cling to you when we are pressed by my circumstances I can share your life giving love with those around me.