I own a 1975 Gibson Marauder electric guitar that I first bought in 1981. When I started being a parent in 1985, I needed some extra money more than I needed the guitar, so I offered it for sale to a very close friend of mine from high school. There was one condition to the sale; he would have to agree to sell it back to me for the same amount at any time in the future. He agreed.

Thirty years later, I decided to ask for it back. I called my friend and asked him if he remembers the deal. He replied in the affirmative. I asked if he remembered the amount of the sale thirty years ago. He again replied in the affirmative, with the added statement, “you know you are getting a great deal here. It’s worth far more than that.” I replied in the affirmative.

With that said, I bought my guitar back. When I put in it my music room and opened the case, the smell of a very old, musty building came out of the case. It had been stored for a while in such an environment, and the smell was familiar to me in that way.

That smell filled the air of my studio and lingered for quite some time. After a while, I began to notice the smell was fading and the case seemed to take-on the new smell of the current environment. Now, most of the evidence of the musty smell is gone.

There are two main points to this story. First, it is a witness to the faithfulness and truthfulness of my friend, Pastor Lance Thackrey of Oak Mound Christian Church in Xenia, Illinois. He gave his word and lived into it thirty years later. Oh, if we all could be that faithful to our word, even when the financial aspects are so broad.

Second, it is an example of how we are influenced by our environment. We may have been, or still are, so confined in our spirit to the musty old smell of negativity, fear, and doubt, that the dominant “smell” of darkness is carried with us. If we have lived in negativity long enough, we won’t even notice the “smell”.

However, when we begin to search for spiritual growth and nurturing, we can begin to notice the darkness in ourselves and replace that darkness with true light. True light comes from God our Creator and Jesus Christ, the promised and fulfilled Word of God. True light often has difficulty breaking through heavy-handed religion but is always available to those who seek God in spirit and truth. (See John 4:23, 24)

One of the most powerful barriers between us and a healthy spiritual life is religion. Blind, uniformed, or even intentionally deceitful religion doesn’t notice its own smell. Healthy spirituality listens, learns, and questions matters of faith, not from a standpoint of dogma or doctrine, but in spirit and truth.

Blessings and Peace to You All,

Fr. David+

Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at frdavid@standrewsgrove.org. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.