“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14
The musty, earthy dampness of a root cellar.
Mothballs and cedar in a dry attic.
The heady, thickly-sweet perfume of gardenias.
Ripe peaches, a sliced orange, sun-warmed fresh strawberries.
Hamburgers on the neighbor’s grill.
Bleach, ammonia, gasoline.
Popcorn, pizza, pickles, peanut butter.
Hot coffee, warm chocolate-chip cookies.
You “smelled” each of these while reading the list, right?
Apparently our olfactory nerves are closely linked to memory. That’s why coming across a pungent aroma will automatically cart us off to memory lane, conjuring up images of a past situation where we had a striking encounter with it.
While our sense of smell is perhaps not as vital for day-to-day functioning as sight and hearing, it’s essential for taste and the gestalt interpretation of our environment. It enriches our entire lifetime, teaches us important lessons, and brings us joy and comfort. When we lose it, our world goes flat. Our experiences become faded.
Many COVID patients report a loss of smell—called anosmia—as another weird symptom of this already peculiar virus. For some, the loss is only temporary and the ability to smell returns in a few days or weeks. For others, the damage can be long-term or permanent. That’s a bit sad.
Smelling is important because it can alert us to dangers. Our noses are organic smoke detectors. Natural gas is odorless…until a distinctive odorizer is added, to make leaks recognizable. Unpleasant smells may drive us to solve problems, like spoiled meat or a sewer backup.
Case in point: When I was small, my mom noticed a nasty, decaying odor in her bedroom closet and surmised that a mouse had died somewhere in it. She took everything out of the closet but couldn’t locate any tiny corpses. The rotten smell continued from late spring to mid-summer. On a cool, rainy day in early fall, my mom pulled out a plastic raincoat and was horrified to find a blackened mess in one of its pockets…remnants of a boiled egg from a months-earlier Easter egg hunt, back in the days before hollow plastic eggs. Ew. “Mouse” found.
Mostly, though, our sense of smell makes us happy. It lets us enjoy food more, gives us pleasant sensations when we bury our noses in a bouquet of peonies, and lets us delight in the freshness of new-mown grass or clothesline-dried linens. Hang a spruce wreath on your door, and the piney fragrance enfolds you in joyful nostalgia of Christmases past.
If you can smell your hand soap, or onions sizzling on a griddle, or polished leather, or candle wax, or any other lovely aromas, thank God for this wonderful privilege. If you’re suffering from anosmia, due to COVID or other problems, pray for healing so that you can regain this blessing.
May you “stop and smell the roses” along your way today…and praise our amazing Creator for this very appealing sense!
Lord, make us more aware of all the blessings around us through the senses You’ve bestowed upon us. Thank You for giving us pleasant smells to enjoy and the ability to sense danger. Please let this pandemic fade and restore us all to health—You are faithful to keep us in the palm of Your hand and give us peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative