A Sacred Scent

            It still happens.  When my daughter breezes past on her way out the door to work, I might catch a whiff of a fragrance that’s familiar to me, conjuring heart rending memories.  Shouldn’t there be a law somewhere stating that only V. could wear that perfume?  She was the classy girl who dropped out of college over one infamous spring break, leaving me perplexed and devastated.  The scent is quite pleasant and sweetly sophisticated, like the sort of thing a wealthy woman would wear.  Because of its associations for me, it’s out of place on my daughter; but I haven’t said anything to her about any of this.  Besides, the version she wears is a knock-off of the more expensive fragrance and doesn’t quite have the same richness and depth, so I tell myself it’s not the same. Nonetheless, It’s close enough to give me a glimpse of old scars.

            In contrast, I can almost smell the cheap lemon perfume G. sprayed all over the place on the rowdy bus ride home from summer camp the year I turned fifteen.  I can still visualize several of us clowning around, wearing our newly purchased light blue T-shirts, with midnight blue trim and lettering that promoted the camp.  It was the end to a tumultuous week I was glad to see ending.  That was the week that began a growing hatred between me and a girl who became a bitter enemy.  On the other end of the emotional spectrum, I hated to part with G., even though I didn’t appreciate being playfully sprayed in the face with lemon scent.  It was a fitting scent though, like the relationship  we had—lively and clean, but not meant to last.

            My wife wears a perfume that I recognize as hers, but it doesn’t stand out quite as distinctively in my mind.  She’s not preoccupied with trying to be extravagant, which is one reason I love her. 

            Shortly before my Grandma M. died, my sister and I were sharing memories of her.  She reminded me the Grandma always wore rose perfume.  I was so struck by that observation that I referred to it when I gave a eulogy at Grandma’s funeral.  The scent of rose typified Grandma.  She was simple and pleasant, but not dominant or overpowering.  She was kind, but not overly sweet.  Nevertheless, her presence was evident..

            There are other people I’ve known down through the years with whom I can’t associate a perfumed scent.  I knew several guys who wore pungent colognes, but I don’t remember the fragrances.  I used to wear the stuff myself, but grew out of it.  I cringe when shaking hands with a guy and noticing his cologne on my hand afterward.  I figure any guy who wears fragrances is putting on airs to impress someone, but it won’t be me.

            Then there are the negative odors I’m sure we all know.  I remember being able to tell that J. had walked into the room because of her B. O.  Too bad, since she was such a nice girl.  Q. was a big dude who liked to hang around me, but I don’t think his grooming habits included the use of enough toilet paper.  I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate.

            There’s a whole field of study centered around aromas.  Ever heard of aroma therapy?  There’s no doubt aromas have associations for each of us.  Common scents, like apple pie, can have meaning for each of us, unlike the specific perfumes I mentioned as having an affect on me.  Have you ever thought that our lives themselves give off aromas to God and others?  In 2 Cor. 2:15-16 Paul wrote: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death, unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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