Day 2 – What’s that Smell?

2 ELUL 5769 (08.22.2009)

On my three mile walk this morning, I noticed the garbage truck making its rounds in our neighborhood.   As I entered a block not yet visited by the waste management driver, I received a miasmal salute from the street lined city distributed waste containers.  Each seemed to stand at attention, lid proudly raised high displaying the overflow of a week’s worth of refuse.  Urgh! Gag!  My early morning air was polluted with the lingering scent of putrified food.  I began to thank God for those individuals who pick up the garbage in our neighborhoods.  The job is not glamorious by any stretch of the imagination but it is greatly needed and not fully appreciated until the smell from piled up waste becomes unbearable.

As human beings, we are constantly generating waste of some kind and most people do not want to live in the waste they have generated.  I know I don’t.  However, when it comes to our spiritual and emotional lives I have found that living in the “waste” of negative thinking, sour attitudes and bad decisions is a lot easier to tolerate and live with. 

The month of Elul gives us an opportunity to examine our lives and proactively remove waste.  In some cases, there may be things in our lives that have gone unnoticed like the forgotten leftovers in our refrigerator.  We don’t notice it until we open up the refrigerator and out flows the malodorous mystery.  Instinctively the scent evokes the question “what’s that smell?” and immediately adds a task on the mental to do list – clean out the “frig”.

What’s that smell?  Like our garbage cans and refrigerators, we need to remove the accumulated waste of our lives.    In this month, leading up to the High Holy Days – the Ten Days of Awe, we are admonished to take time to assess the contents of our heart, mind and emotions.   Is the scent of my life releasing a beautiful fragrance or a miasmal stench?   

Final thought.  My sixth grade teacher once shared with our class about the importance of hygiene.  She made this statement that I have never forgotten.  “By the time you smell yourself, others have been smelling you for weeks.”

We may not “smell” ourselves – yet.   But I know through personal experience that God has a way of allowing life to lift the lid on those hidden areas of our lives that are reeking.  During this season, take on the task of boldly examining your life – you may be surprised by what you are releasing and what others are smelling.

Psalm 26:2  |  Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.


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