Scents and Memories

Scent brings back memories.  Hot sand and vineyards take me back to the weeks each summer I spent with my Grandma Wulff on her Livingston ranch. The verdant vines and almond orchard were places of adventure.  I remember the feel of hot sand between my toes and racing to the irrigation ditch for a cool dip.

The scent of sawdust takes me home to Pleasanton where my father and mother worked late afternoons and week-ends building our house.  It took twelve years to finish, one room at a time as they could afford, and by then that smell of wood dust was in my veins.  I still love it.

Pungent eucalyptus reminds me of “Twin Lakes” – a boys-only hideaway for my brother and his friends, and then invaded by his little sister.

The scent of roses reminds me of the blaze-red climbing rose my parents trained around the bedroom windows.  I’d awaken to that scent near the end of the school year and smell it through the summertime.

The smell of popcorn takes me back to the Alameda County Fair and the carnival with its Hammer, Tilt-a-Whirl and Ferris Wheel, and all the games of chance. I tried and failed to toss a ring around a floating rubber ducky in the hope of winning a real duckling.  A kind gentleman won one and gave it to me.  And that reminds me of my patient parents who usually gave in to a new pet adoption.  The only pet they didn’t welcome was the bat I managed to capture from the rafters under a bridge and bring home in a shoe box.

The scent of vanilla reminds me of my mom making chocolate chip cookies.  She’d even let me have a small spoonful of dough.

The smell of chlorine reminds me of summer days swimming in the high school pool.  Dad would drop me off on the way to work.  He gave me a bagged lunch and fifty cents (enough to get me in and have a quarter left over to buy a frosty on the long walk home in the afternoon.

So many scents and memories.

God gave us sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.  Think of the pleasure they give us every day. He employed all those senses in the worship services He designed in the Old Testament.  He wants us to rejoice and remember in Him.  Worship is a sensory experience.  We see the beauty of the sanctuary.  We hear (and sing) the music.  We hold the bread and take grape juice or wine. We smell the candles and the flowers on the altar.  And we share all this with strangers who become friends and then family.

When a church family invites and welcomes the Spirit of the Living God into their midst, something miraculous happens.  King David said it best.  “Better is one day in the house of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere.”