Another Lesson from Abbey

Thank You Kiss“Hey, Mom. Thanks for showing me Aunt Marilyn’s blog post last week. I’ve heard a lot about Millie and Aunt Marilyn’s two previous cats, and I’m sorry I never met them. I don’t remember that you’ve ever taken me to Chicago to see your old home and to visit with your old friends.”

“Well, Abbey, we don’t get to Chicago very often any more. At least you’ve gotten to know your Aunt Marilyn from the times she’s come up to Wisconsin to visit us. She used to live on the first floor of our two-flat in Chicago. She was our extended family, sharing the same street address.”

“According to Aunt Marilyn’s blog, her cat Millie was pretty smart. Millie must have been a good companion. I bet she taught Aunt Marilyn a lot about life.

“That makes me think about all I’ve taught you about life, Mom, and what I still need to teach you before I move on to heaven. I’ll be able to meet Millie in heaven, face-to-face, before too long, so I better get busy teaching you what you still need to learn while I’m still here.”

Ann - Abbey 3“I’m afraid that’s true, Abbey. Your time on earth may not be much longer. I don’t know what the first few years of your life on earth were like, but over the last eight years you have been a wonderful member of our family. You have demonstrated an incredible amount of love and patience with everyone who has lived with us. You have loved and been loved by over a dozen grandmas and a couple grandpas. Although you still like to sit with the 93-year-olds in our household, I can see that you have a much harder time getting up and walking with them.”

“Yup, but I’m still enjoying life. I’m not ready to leave you yet. There’s still one really important thing I need to teach you.”

“What’s that, Abbey? I’m all ears!”

“That’s just it. You often say “I’m all ears” when someone wants to tell you something that you really want to hear about. Or, you may talk about a wonderful sight that you’ve seen with your eyes. But I’ve never heard you say, ‘I’m all nose!’ God gave you the sense of smell as well as hearing and sight.”

“I guess you’re right, Abbey. You certainly make good use of your nose. You’re always sniffing out whatever is on the ground or in the air.”

“That’s right. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading all the smells on the ground when we’re out for a walk. You don’t seem to pay much attention to all those wonderful smells. Yesterday you went for a walk and looked at all the flowers around the farmhouse. Did you take time to smell the peonies and the mock orange blossoms and the wild roses?”

“They were all so beautiful, all of them in full bloom.”

“That’s my point. You saw all the blooms, but did you smell them? When God created everything on earth, God created smells and tastes as well as colors and sounds. Remember all the burnt sacrifices described throughout the Old Testament? The practical purpose of burning all those sacrifices was to create wonderful fragrances for God to smell. For example, after the flood described in Genesis 8, when Noah came off the ark, he built an altar to make burnt sacrifices to God.

God smelled the sweet fragrance and thought to himself, “I’ll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I’ll never again kill off everything living as I’ve just done.” [Genesis 8:20-21 The Message]

“God didn’t decide to bless the earth because of how it looked or sounded. It was because of how wonderful the burnt offering smelled. You people just don’t get it,” Abbey continued. “The sense of smell is the most godly of all the senses. Jesus and his friends when he was on earth understood this. One of my favorite Bible stories happened just days before Jesus was crucified. Here’s part of the story.

Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. [John 12:2-3 The Message]

mock orange blossoms
Mock orange blossoms

“Just imagine what that must have smelled like, Mom. It was probably even sweeter than the fragrance of the mock orange blossoms at the farm.”

Abbey continued her lecture. “The apostle Paul understood the superiority of the sense of smell over all other senses. When he was thanking the people living in Philippi for all the gifts they had sent him, he said:

And now I have it all – and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end. [Philippians 4:18 The Message]

“Are you beginning to get it, Mom? God didn’t put all these wonderful fragrances on the earth just for us dogs. You can smell them, too, if you pay attention.”

“You’re right, Abbey. I need to remember to pay more attention to the smells surrounding me. The first time I smell someone cutting their grass in early spring, I notice how sweet and refreshing it smells. When a neighbor is grilling hamburgers outside, I notice that smell. It makes me hungry. And I create wonderful smells in the kitchen when I’m baking cookies.”

“You’re beginning to understand, Mom. But, try a little harder. Every time you step outside, sniff the air, like I do. I doubt you’ll ever put your nose to the ground like I do, but there are plenty of smells at your nose level, too. Maybe you’ll start to thank God each time you get a whiff of something that’s simply wonderful, or something that brings back a special memory.”

“I’ll try, Abbey. Thanks for nudging me to become a little more aware of another one of God’s magnificent gifts.”

“You’re welcome, Mom. Thanks for listening. I want to talk a little more about Millie, but I guess we can do that next time. I hear Mom Mim singing in the kitchen, and… Sniff the air, Mom! Do you smell it? I can smell that she’s cooking something that smells really good. She may need my help… See ya later, Mom.”

Marian - Abbey - Mim: We're always learning something from each other!
Marian – Abbey – Mim: We’re always learning something from each other!

One response to “Another Lesson from Abbey”

  1. Betsy Bruce Henning Avatar
    Betsy Bruce Henning

    A precious story. I’m sitting on my porch swing and you can bet I’m inhaling the sweet summer fragrances now. Thanks for the reminder, Abbey! Sometimes I forget to appreciate the gift of smell.

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