Whew! After writing The Dark, my witty, sarcastic self can only take so much soul bearing, heart wrenching, seriousness. So, here is a little levity.
Recently, during a message at church, our pastor was reflecting on the lingering aroma of a lost loved one. After which, I was pondering the very powerful impact our earthly sense of smell has. A single smell has the power to instantly transport us back in time to a place, good or bad, with all of the memories and emotions attached. Often complete with our other senses, bringing sight, sounds, and touch with it.
For instance, I will never again be able to eat Cool Ranch Doritos. In fact, the very sight of the bag makes me inherently queasy. When my oldest was three he spiked a fever that, in a panic over the inability to get it below 104 degrees, I raced him to the emergency room. While pulling his fevered, lethargic, little body out of the car in the carport of the emergency entrance he immediately lost the contents of his stomach. Into my hair. Those contents consisted of, you guessed it, Cool Ranch Doritos. Sympathetic, merciful, nurses found me some scrubs to change into, but there is only so much you can do “washing” your hair in a sink the size of a mixing bowl with no decent shampoo. Then, I smelled of wet cool ranch Doritos. And it was bad. So bad that, two hours later, when Hubby had to bring our six week old daughter to me so that I could feed her, not even she wanted to be near me! Luckily, her aversion to bottles was stronger than that of her aversion to my smell. My now almost twelve year old delights in asking for this bag of anxiety and nauseousness every time we’re in a grocery store.
As a young child, separated from my mother, I wore a pair of pajamas for two weeks, wringing every molecule of my mother’s scent from them until, in tears, I could no longer smell her in the fabric of those tired jammies. I forfeited them to the laundry hamper but then had difficulty conjuring her image and touch without the scent of her skin.
When each of my children were infants, the smell of their sweet heads was like ambrosia to me. No matter when their last bath was. Over time, that smell has changed from the sweet smell of infant, to the sweaty, earthy, cracker filled scent of toddler, to my daughter’s favorite strawberry shampoo, and the very different sweaty, adolescent, hormone filled smell of twelve year old boy. Every scent touches a place in my heart and makes me smile and I know those precious scents will be forever locked into my subconscious.
Yes, scent is a powerful thing. And if we look at it in the context of 2 Corinthians 2:15 it takes on much greater meaning to me.
What aroma am I giving off? What scent do I leave behind in the rooms, hallways, or elevators I’ve inhabited? I long to be the scent of Christ. Not just when I leave a room, but while I’m still present in it. An aroma so strong, so powerful, so beautiful, that it not only pleases Him, but attracts those who are perishing! That it leaves them longing for that eternal aroma that no amount of Downy can wash out. The kind of aroma that the smell of strawberry rhubarb pie and cow manure brings me to (If that sounds strange, see my First Glimpse ) of faith. The kind of aroma that brings people to the foot of the cross, wrapped in love, covered in Christ’s blood, seeking more of Him. Too often, I fear though that the smell I’m leaving behind is that of, well, wet Cool Ranch Doritos.