Do you experience God with all of your senses? What smell do you associate with God?
When I smell a banana, I think of dogs. Weird? Maybe.
I was sitting in an airport waiting to return from Hawaii. At each stop, ticketing, baggage check, entry into the waiting area, signs everywhere, we were reminded not to take fruit or plants out of the state (and questioned). This was completely forbidden. As we sat there, the cutest, tiny dog came out with a marshal. He was perky and bouncy and looked like a pup you would get a child to play with. The marshal and the dog walked through the area and people “aaaah”ed at the dog but he completely ignored everyone’s attention. Suddenly he stopped in front of an abandoned bag. The marshal encouraged him to move on but he sat and stared at the bag. The two of them waited for the owner of the bag to return. When she came back, the marshal asked her “Do you have any fruit or plants in your bag?” The woman said, “No”. The dog refused to move. The marshal asked her to open her bag. In the bag was a banana. The marshal was not particularly pleased but questioned the woman again about her understanding of the question, “Do you have any fruit or plants?”
I was quite amazed at this tiny animal that I had completely underestimated and now every time I smell a banana, I think of a dog. (Try telling that to a psychologist without the explanation.)
On my last Woman-to-Woman Worldwide journey, I was sitting waiting for our host to begin the day when one of the women who was especially tired leaned over and rested her head next to me. She looked up at me and said, “You smell like Christmas!” I loved that statement; who does not want to evoke memories of Christmas? I was also confused about where it came from. It turns out that I had just eaten a piece of cinnamon candy and that was the reminder of Christmas.
The sense of smell is our strongest trigger of memory and the emotions associated with those memories. What scent makes you think of the love of God? Maybe it’s cinnamon or a freshly cut pine tree that makes you think of Christmas…maybe it’s incense that you associate with a worship service…maybe it’s a flower or some other part of nature that reminds you of God’s presence.
What scent is fragrant to God? Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” God experiences our love for one another as a fragrant offering. May love so become our practice and identity that it becomes a fragrant offering to God. May we love and follow God so closely that others can ‘smell’ God’s presence. May we allow ourselves to fully experience the presence of our loving Creator.
Pat Donahoo, Executive Director