Maybe for you it is gardenia, or magnolia, but for me it is honeysuckle. That scent that connects you to your younger self, the smell that triggers a pleasant memory from your childhood or a significant event.
In the north, honeysuckle bloomed about the first week of June. It was a sign that school was nearly over, and summer break would soon begin. At Girl Scount camp, I learned how to carefully remove the stamen and taste the sweet nectar. When I smell honeysuckle, I am nine years old again, running through forests and catching toads and balancing on the trunks of toppled trees.
They say that smell is the sense that is most closely tied with memory. Which scents send you scurrying to your past? Baking bread, fresh cut roses, your mother's favorite lotion or perfume? Salty sea air, damp, rich earth freshly tilled, roasting turkey? No matter what age I attain, the smell that will bring me the most comfort is campfire - smoke and burnt marshmallows and bug spray - for it is at a campfire that I feel closest to God.
The strange times we are experiencing now will usher us into a new and different future, one that I think most of us have difficult imagining right now. We long for the comfort of the past, the familiarity. The future feels scary. As we move into that future, we can choose to try to fit new puzzle pieces into an old frame, wondering why the pieces don't fit, frustrated constantly that there are pieces missing.
Or we can choose to look forward to the new way of being that God is calling us into. We can be the pieces through which God is creating a new way of being, the new picture forming piece by jagged piece, and celebrating as new pieces fall into place. We all know that the process can be frustrating at times, and we also know the joy of finding that piece we have looked for diligently. But we don't linger long before we begin the search for the next piece. Friends, God's future can be, will be exciting!
So what will be the smell that brings back the memories of these strange times we are in? I pray it is NOT the smell of Lysol and disinfecting wipes. Instead, I hope you are using this time to create some new memories, of being together, of being creative, of cooperating and helping and being helped. Maybe you are even re-creating old family recipes, transcending the generations with joys old and new. I hope you are taking a moment to reflect on these small joys, and the challenges, we are living through. It helps you cope now, and helps put things into perspective when you look back and see where you have been, and how God has used this time in your life (this is the part where I preaching to myself...)
Take pictures, write in a journal, send cards, record some video. Maybe someday soon we'll figure out how to digitize smells...
And now for a story with some tasty smelling stew... I dedicate this reading to Andy Cochran, my favorite vegetarian!