The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood. It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it is detected.
Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden (1991)
Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.
Stilly yet seriously, the snow sprinkled downward as salt from a giant shaker. Watching from the front lobby of the library where I work, the effect was magical and alluring. Aware of others' less positive sentiments towards the winter precipitation, I reined in my fascination.
Surprisingly many patrons appreciated this weather wonder as a perfect backdrop for Popcorn Day, a friendly gesture the staff had planned for handing out free popcorn all day. I love popcorn, as in devour-a-whole-big-green-Tupperware-bowlful on a Sunday evening kind of love. Or I-just-ate-lunch-but-I-think-I'll-have-some-popcorn now. So I munched my way through the work day like the Hungry Caterpillar. Actually, I consumed fewer bagfuls than you might expect, considering the tantalizing smell that hung in the air all day. Hovering over the reference desk. Wafting down the stairwells. Riding in the elevator. Clinging to my hair. Oh, the bewitching aroma!
One day this week I made bread with the help of my kitchen friend--the breadmaker. The heavenly scent of the freshly made staff of life followed me to bed, and the next morning I satisfied the mouth-watering longing to taste its scents-ational goodness.
Olfactory moments do transport us back to memories. The pungent smell of a wood fire positions me on a lawn chair with family in a cooling summer night of a camping trip. Diesel fumes take me back to strolls on city streets of Managua, Nicaragua where I spent a study-service term during college. I tenderly hold the memory of the moment I buried my widow's face in the worn suede jacket hanging in the closet, just to breathe in the familiar smell of a presence I painfully missed.
It's as if I'm holding my infant close again whenever I catch a whiff of baby lotion. The aroma of Brut or English Leather transports me back to a high school sweetheart's hug. I'm doing a small fast from coffee right now, and oh how I miss the wake-up scent of morning!
What memories do you have on the tip of your nose?
What memories or impressions are we making by the fragrance we carry? Not the cologne we're wearing, but the life we're sharing.
2 Cor. 2:14-15 says,
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Do we walk by others and leave a sweet aroma that has them wondering what we're wearing that smells so good? Or do they hold their nose until we leave the room, because our words or actions have stunk?
Father, help me follow you as one who has given up my own selfish independence to be captured by your life of victory and triumph, someone you can use to spread the sweetness of the knowledge of you to everyone I encounter. Wash me daily in your word and annoint me with the oil of your Holy Spirit so I only smell of you.