It Started with the Smell of Borscht

 

An unusual conversation with a taxi driver stirred up thoughts about Christlikeness in the mind of Svetlana Chicu, a gospel worker from Moldova. “Mold our hearts to be like Your heart” is one of the prayer points of Pray2020.

I get in the taxi, and before I can close the door properly, the driver says:

“I want to ask you something, but do not be upset.”

“Of course,” I answer curiously.

“Did you eat borscht (traditional Ukrainian beet soup)?”

“No, I did not,” I say, trying to figure out why he would ask such a thing.

“When you entered the car, you brought the smell of borscht with you,” he explains, amused but kind.

I review the last few things I did to remember what I had been eating. I really had eaten nothing, nothing at all. I had left in a hurry, throwing some fruit in my bag, bringing with me (as I was nicely informed) the aroma of the dinner I had just prepared.

“Can I ask you something? Are you hungry?” I said to the driver.

“Oh, yes, very!” he replied.

I apologized, getting ready to share my snack with him.

“You know, it was not because of hunger I asked you,” he said. “Every person who rides with me brings along a unique smell he or she probably does not even notice.”

It seems my taxi driver has a hobby, I think, amused. I imagine how he takes in the smell of each client and tries to guess the history behind the aroma each one wears.

Actually, I myself am very sensitive to smells.

Recently, I was taking the trolley bus with someone who really had a stinky smell. This man was so aware of his “aroma” he felt compelled to give an explanation. He worked all day repairing cars, and his clothing was permeated with the smell of gasoline or oil or other things from his work.

I once had a neighbor who had a unique smell — of cigarettes and perfume — both expensive. I could tell when she was there with my eyes closed. Even her dog had the same unmistakable odor, every time I met them, without exception.

I did not find it pleasant to know I smelled of borscht, but hearing that I did made me think. I would like to have had a different aroma — a smell of love and joy, kindness and peace, gentleness and patience …

My taxi driver knew that the aroma we wear tells our history to those around us.

Like the borscht smell, aromas add themselves to us. We imbibe them from our environment unawares, we absorb them from what we look at and listen to, and we take them in from the people we are among. If you work all day in the kitchen, you have to take some very conscious steps to smell differently from borscht.

Mr. taxi driver, thank you for having the courage to ask an inconvenient question!

I’m not too fond of perfume. But I will tell you a secret. After that day in the taxi, every time I leave the house, I wonder, “How do I smell?” I’ve brought my favorite fragrance along and even used it. It’s a good scent that reflects the generosity of my dear husband ☺.

But what kind of smell do you wear? What history tells the aroma of your soul?