Monday, October 24, 2011

Listen! Do You Smell Something?

There is a great line from Ghostbusters ... the usual silliness that sticks with you!


Hee, hee ... I love how Egon just looks to his hand-held gizmo and starts investigating again!  Makes me want to watch the movie again.  Just to enjoy the lines like this one - where you start giggling because you know it's coming!

The other day, I had another run in with smell.  I was snuggled on the couch with my big kids reading through the last of "The Mysterious Benedict Society" (a book/series I would whole-heartedly recommend, by the way) when I most definitely smelled something.

Stinky feet.

Whew!  I was surrounded by four foul feet!  How could their feet get so smelly?  Their cutsie little tootsies that I used to kiss when they were itty bitty?  Now you couldn't pay me enough to get me that close to their doozy feet.

"Whoa, guys!  Your feet are stinky!" I teased.

Giggling they pulled off their socks.  As if that would help!  Now there were four feet and four separate socks that were making my eyes water!

"Aaah!  Go put your socks in the hamper and grab a baby wipe.  A little clean up down might help a bit!"

While the kids were gallumping upstairs to dispose of the hazardous waste and detoxify their feet, the smell lingered and suddenly I was standing in the locker room of my old school ... and it smelled the same.

My nose transported me back to gym class in middle school - the metal doors of the lockers clanging, the futile attempts at changing with any modesty, the giggles and groans from those who liked gym and those who didn't and the pervading smell of stinky feet.  I could feel in the pit of my reminiscing stomach the same anxieties that came along with being a pre-teen:  acne, physical development, fitting in, standing out, being cool ... not being stinky.

It was surprising to me how vividly those emotions from 20+ years came flooding back ... all because of a couple of stinky feet.  My sense of smell is a powerful tool for remembering ... but not always unpleasant things:

There is a particular cleaning product that whenever I smell it, I am walking through the dressing room at the Ouray pool.  I'm shivering and trying to dry off enough to get dressed quickly.  I'm wishing I could turn around and get back in the steaming hot springs!

When I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas last year, I used my mom's recipe and the smell of the sweet dough brought back memories of hanging out behind the counter of my mom's bakery and how she was never quite able to wash that smell out of her clothes.

Sitting at the pumpkin patch last week, perched upon a hay bale, I was warming in the sun.  And the hay was warming, too.  That sweet sent of warm straw surrounded me and I found myself standing against our old horse, Jake.  He's eating the hay I've just brought for him and I'm snuggled against his toasty side listening to him chew and feeling the heat radiating from his belly.  He has his own wonderful smell.

Smells are powerful ... in more ways than one!

God made us this way, I think.  Seeing as He engineered and designed us with great care and intention, I would have to say that he included this connection between our noses and our memories on purpose.  And this connection is also linked to the rest of our being!

In the Old Testament, God used the Israelite's noses on a regular basis to keep His children close to Him.  And often times to woo them back to Him.  Through the use of the incense burning perpetually before the altar and the smoke from the burnt offerings, the Israelites could not escape the smells of God's presence.

 34 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. (Exodus 30:34-36, emphasis mine)

With the aroma of incense in the air, the Israelites were reminded of God promises and His presence.  As they gathered for worship at the temple, their hearts were ready to hear from God.  It was almost like God was saying, "Do you smell something?  Listen!  I have something important to say to you."

I think God still uses our noses today to draw us closer to Him ... the delicate smell of the communion wafers - a gentle reminder of Jesus' sacrifice; the aroma of a meal heating in the church kitchen - the promise of community and belonging; the scent of evergreens at Christmas - ushering us into the celebration of Jesus' birth; the whiff of 120 sweaty kids at Vacation Bible School - the opportunity to share the love and hope of Jesus in exponential ways.

We can't disregard the power of smell or the potential we have to smell and listen.  And learn.


  1. Smells are powerful for me too! I associate tons with smells!

  2. You are so right about the power of smells! Great blog (as usual) =) Hope you had a great weekend!


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