I completely missed this one. Even now I can transport myself to the sensory overload that provides a right hook to my nasal cavity when I make my way into the store. There is little that is authentic or natural about these smells. They collide at an intersection without stop signs.
Do you ever think about the fragrance of Christ? What is it, what does it mean. I once read one of those tear-jerker email forwards about a baby girl who was born severely premature and was not expected to live. Due to her immature little immune system, her parents were unable to hold her or touch her. As she lay there isolated in the incubator, webs of tangled tubing pouring from her tiny body, her mother fervently, desperately prayed that somehow, some way Jesus would hold her little girl in her stead. This little girl miraculously survived and became a completely healthy, bubbly 5-year-old.
Low Church Protestantism might smell rather bland; but the further the worshipper moves towards the Catholic end of the spectrum, the more the nose is assaulted and delighted. Smell plays an important part in the biblical narrative, from the aromas of burnt offerings in the Old Testament through to the precious perfume used shortly before the Passion to anoint Christ. From Genesis 2 to Revelation 18 there are more than references to perfume, odour, and smell. The old Temple in Jerusalem must have produced an over-powering stench of sweaty humans, frightened animals, burning flesh, and incense. The scene of the resurrection must have had a distinctive smell of embalming chemicals mixed with the early morning scents of garden plants. About 12 years ago, Dr Charles Sell, a chemist who was then working for an industrial fragrance company in Kent, started a research project into the history and chemistry of the biblical references. The results of his work have now been published as a book by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Perfumes in the Bible pubs. It is a wide-ranging study in which, in addition to chemistry, Dr Sell examines geographical sources, botany, sensory science, medicine, and the arts. There is even a section on perfume storage. Bottles, interestingly, have survived from before BC, and Isaiah mentions the ownership of perfume bottles as one of the trappings of wealth, along with bracelets, charms, and nose-rings.
We tend to become like the people we spend time with. But because I know her well, love her, and hugged her, a little bit of her transferred to me, and her aroma lingered even after we parted. We become like Christ, even taking on his fragrance, when we spend time with Him, when we get close to Him, when we live in daily connection with Him.