"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, September 1, 2008


Recently, I read a small excerpt from Rachel Herz’s book, The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell. In it she wrote, “Smells become embedded in our minds. They have the ability to take us back to a different time and place.” How well I know that to be true. As I rode through downtown a few weeks ago after a horrible fire, I was immediately taken back some 40 years to when our home became a small inferno; and with that the fear and sickness that still tries to lure me back to that frightful night.

But indeed not all aromas carry with them such disturbance or ill feelings. Baby powder sends me back to days of caring for my own sweet little ones. Estee Lauder’s “Youth Dew” reminds me of Mom and Vicki. Gardenias bring back memories of piano lessons at Miss Pinkston’s. And before my grandfather’s house was torn down, I confiscated the sweet shrub beside the back door and planted it in my own yard, so that now when I swing, I’m reminded of days at Mu’s and Gra’s. And have you ever hugged someone so tightly that you wear their cologne for the rest of the day? Smells indeed have the ability to take us back to a different time, place, and people. Yes, a fragrance is a powerful thing.

A couple of years ago, my friend gave me a collage that the Lord had impressed upon her to make for me. “Essence” was His word. Since the framed art also has a teapot on it, I have it hanging in my kitchen next to my tea and coffee accessories, and so the word stays fresh on my mind. I often wonder what essence is about me. What fragrance do I carry? Oh, if I’m speaking in literal terms, when I exit a room, it’s “Michael Kors” that I leave behind. Sometimes it’s lavender. But what about spiritually speaking?

God’s Word has something to say about this essence. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Cor. 2:14-15). The fragrance of the knowledge of Him; the aroma of Christ. If that’s the case, then why upon leaving a party recently, did I feel more like I had left them with a week’s worth of kitchen garbage rather than any sweet smelling perfume? What happened to the fragrance of Christ of which Paul spoke? Ah, my heart. Maybe that’s the key. Maybe I had not taken the time to scent my heart that morning with prayer. Maybe I had not laced it with His Word. Maybe I had not drawn near enough to allow His fragrance to become mine. All I know is that the “essence” made me sick that day – and still does. Sort of like smelling that smoke.

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