Every morning has a routine to do a bit of housekeeping. It’s my way of not having to do everything at once, but spreading out the tasks throughout the week.
This particular morning, I went into the garage to put the garbage into the bin and unknowingly, I breathed in a memory. Warmth and joy filled my soul.
“What is it?” I asked myself.
“Uncle Ike’s farm.” I whispered back.
The smell triggered a memory of his hay barn. I looked around the garage and noticed the forgotten wheelbarrow full of straw we were using to cover the newly planted grass seed patches throughout our yard.
Funny how the sense of smell is linked to memories.
The smell of Herbal Essence shampoo takes me to the summer when I was a camp counselor. Freshly cut wood signals a memory of the lumber warehouses where my dad worked when I was a child.
That morning the memories came tumbling back: jumping into haybales in the hay barn with my sisters and cousins; running around the fields, dodging “cowpies”; trying to herd the cows in much too early to be milked; riding on the fender of the old tractor while my uncle drove around the farm.
My uncle was a bit of a grandfather substitute for me. My grandpa, his father, was quite old when I was born, and he died when I was ten. I have limited memories of him. But memories of spending time at my uncle’s farm are vivid. I remember a gentle man who made each one of his 30+ nieces and nephews feel special. He was a war hero from D-Day in WWll, but you would never know about this from his humble and gracious bearing.
My aunt and uncle raised milk cows on their farm. He said to me once that he named each of his cows after his nieces.
“Which one is named after me, Uncle Ikes?” I asked, eagerly.
“The brown one over there. Her name is Becky.” he replied.
He raised Holsteins, the common black and white cows you see dotted throughout the fields of many milk farms. This one was different than the others as she was brown and white. I’ve thought later that perhaps it was a compliment that I was different, or maybe, he pointed out that cow for each of his nieces when they asked, because it was easily identified from the other cows.
Doesn’t really matter. I knew I was just one of many. Yet he had a way of making me feel loved for who I was as a little person, and not so much as simply one of the 30+.
The smell in the garage that day: the scent of love.
The idea of scent is a biblical one.
The Bible uses the word: fragrance.
Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. – Ephesians 5:1-2
Jesus’ work on our behalf – he came to this earth as a baby, lived as a human being instead of a King, offered his life as a sacrifice for us, and rose from the dead to defeat the bondage of death – is a sweet scent to God. Our lives lived as Jesus would live in our place, through obedience to the Father and with the goal of glorifying Him, is also a delightful aroma for God to breathe in. For Him, it is the scent of love.
But I also think that God sends us scents to remind us of His love for us. Like the time spent on my uncle’s farm, we are given hints of God’s love and delight in us through the sense of smell. Particularly during this Christmas season, we have many reminders of God’s love through the scents of the season – pine trees, simmering cinnamon and cloves, freshly baked cookies, and, perhaps, burning logs in the fireplace.
The scent of God’s love is all around us.
Pause a moment during this Christmas season and mindfully breathe in the scents.
Take in the reminders of God’s love for you.
Rest in the reassurance that He truly loves you.