I was feasting on the BBC’s “Foyle’s War” recently, (http://www.foyleswar.com/) and as usual, it held me by the heels of my assumptions and shook me awake. It’s World War II in England, and the neighborhood police office is holding a raffle for tuppence a ticket. The prize- an onion. Sam asks the clerk if she can have a smell of it. I froze the film and myself for a moment while tears made their way from heart to head to eyes. “Can I have a smell of it?” Due to rationing, Sam had not smelled or tasted an onion since Christmas. She didn’t buy a raffle ticket- she probably couldn’t afford tuppence- but her colleague, Paul Milner did, and when he won the raffle, he shared the onion with Sam. Of course, it goes without saying that human nature being what it is, the black market on food thrived all around Sam. A wealthy person bought minced ham in a can for her dog, while most Londoners were lucky to have meat.
The medieval German mystic, Meister Eckhart, addressed greed and privilege in the marketplace. In the midst of merchants, nobles and bishops he preached against a merchant mentality of greed and said that all people were aristocrats, even the disgruntled peasants, because they are sparks of the divine. This was a very revolutionary message because it threatened the power of financial, state, and religious institutions. For this message he was condemned, because he was said to have corrupted the minds of ignorant lay persons.
I am calling myself back to that place of simplicity where just a smell is enough for a while. Grace can be found in downsizing and simplifying. When we shed the shroud of excess, our spiritual senses come alive again. Can you smell the onion yet?
Like the holy caves of Cappadocia
Spare Souls have open spaces
Where the Spirit’s breath
Unhindered by the excess which
Muffles the voice of God.
Head into the Dark Night
Sustained by the smell of Hope.
Because they have known
The taste of ecstasy,
They remember, and the memory is
© rita h kowats
11 thoughts on ““Can I Have a Smell of It?””
Rita, my sister, thank you….I CAN SMELL the onion…..Deo Gratias! Thank YOU two times!
You are welcome! I hope it smells sweet. like a Walla Walla.
I lived through rationing in the UK, I can remember the orange juice and cod liver oil bottles, and I played with ration coupons in my toy shop. Here’s a link you might enjoy in relation to simplicity, steering clear of the arty-farty in crowd:
About Outsider Art. Good stuff and inspiring. Art from the heart, not art from the cash till.
And the bombs too, no doubt. What a horrific time it must have been. I’m eager to read the link. Thank you, and especially for sharing your experience. I was safe and sound across the pond.
Thank you so much, Pat. If only we would listen to the Meister!
Rita, I especially love the line: “Unhindered by the excess which muffles the voice of God.” I find that times of less yield so much more spiritually speaking.
Blessings ~ Wendy
Yes. If we allow spareness to do its work, it yields life.
Thank you for this. Could you go one step further and tell me which episode of Foyle’s War has this story of the onion raffle please?
I promise to look for it!
Here it is, Audie, “The Fench Drop”: http://www.nothing-fancy.com/foyleswar/episodes/301/301summ2.htm