Friday, April 11, 2014
Fantastic Family Friday: Aftershave, baby blankets, and a college dorm
The smell of my grandparents' house still lingers in my memory. In my mind I can walk through the house and recall different smells in various rooms. Though he has been gone for 17 years, I remember the distinct scent of my grandfather. We called him "Pa-Pa." His back porch, his aftershave, and his clothes all carried distinct aromas.
My children often note while unpacking after spending a night away from home that the clothes coming out of the suitcase smell like the place from whence we came.
The dormitory I lived in as a freshman in college was named "Bailey Dorm." That old dormitory had a very distinct smell. Because as an adult my family lived in the same town as my college, I often frequented the campus. Every year or two I would wander over to old Bailey and slip inside for a few moments, walking down memory lane. Amazingly, the second I walked into the building and encountered that unique smell, memories and feelings of old times - some forgotten - flooded me.
The other day while my family was out of town, I wandered into my daughter's room. On her bed lay her favorite stuffed animal and well-worn blanket. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, I picked up the blanket and buried my face into its warmth. Anna-Frances' scent lingered on the threads, and it made me feel good thinking of her.
Studies have proven that the sense of smell is the human sense most tied to the recollection of memories. A Japanese company even attempted to create a device allowing the user to capture a certain number of smells. How sweet that would be to have smells that you could revisit at your leisure.
Some people who lose loved ones keep articles of their old clothes. In times of loneliness, they get out those clothes and smell them to be reminded of the comforting scent.
Through the years I have enjoyed kissing my wife and children on their heads. One of the reasons is that I experience their unique smell, which makes me feel close to them.
The Bible says that our prayers are like that to Jesus. In Revelation 5:8, the apostle John depicts this image of heaven:
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
The golden bowls hold our prayers, which are like incense to the Lord. Because I did not grow up in a liturgical church and have never been accustomed to burning incense in worship, this image could almost be lost on me. But not when I remember some of the wonderful smells of life.
Those memory-scents remind me of people, houses, foods, restaurants, experiences, and journeys with family and friends. They make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. They make me feel loved and secure. They make me tear up and long to be with those people. Some of those smells make me long for a reunion in heaven.
Those good smells and the memories they invoke take me back to people I journeyed with and loved.
When I pressed my face into my daughter's blanket, I felt close to her and enjoyed the moment. Even though she was not physically with me, I sensed her nearness and felt blessed. I believe God's Word shows us that our prayers cause God to do the same.