Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"He smells like peaches, Mom"

"God, come close.  Come quickly! Open your ears--it's my voice you're hearing!  Treat my prayers as sweet incense rising; my raised hands are my evening prayers."  Psalm 141:1-2

In the wee hours of morning on the way to school, my girls and I cross a stone bridge that runs over Nolan Creek.  Many foggy mornings when the dew point is just right, this is our view.  The girls laugh declaring the water sports a beard!  I'm reminded of the scripture that describes our morning prayers are as incense to the Lord.  The wet mist swirls upward like my anguished cries.  Only my tears doesn't dissipate into thin air, in to nothingness.  My Papa, my Abba literally breathes them in!  The Old Testament reassures me that they are a pleasing fragrance, acceptable to Him (Lev. chapter 2).  And Revelation walks us into the throne room of the Holy One and reveals "another Angel, carrying a gold censer that came and stood at the altar.  He was given a great quantity of incense so that he could offer up the prayers of all the holy people of God on the Golden Altar before the Throne.  Smoke billowed up from the incense-laced prayers of the holy ones, rose before God from the hand of the Angel"  (Rev. 8: 3-4).  My prayers fill the air of heaven like incense!

For years I have wondered, "why incense? why fragrances?"  Do the Episcopalians have a corner on this?  Until I remembered that from the moment we are born, our sense of smell works perfectly.  Seeing and hearing are both a bit fuzzy around the edges, but babies are able to distinguish their mothers' smell within a few short hours after birth.  And our sense of smell is not translated into an electrochemical signal for our brain to read like the other senses are.  Fragrances come in through our nose and mouth and go directly to our brain's olfactory bulb.  No translation needed.  And we all know too how smells propel us through emotional wormholes of time to grandma's kitchen or our first trip to the beach.

What on earth is God saying? To be honest, I'm not totally sure, yet.  But in light of these verses and what I know about smell, I like to picture myself as a small child, laying on Papa's chest.  No words have to be spoken.  Not even higher order thinking is required (which is good because when I'm most upset, rationality wanes!)  He simply holds me and waits for me to exhale.  Then we breathe together. My breath synchronizes with His.  I know Him by the rise and fall of His chest, the grasp of His arms, and by His smell.  His fragrance that says I am received.  And I smell good to Him.  He is pleased and I have his favor.  His acceptance and delight.

Why smell? Because God is sensual. Can He really be about pleasure, pure and simple?  We all know the joy of breathing deeply when cinnamon rolls are baking in the oven.  Why wouldn't He?  I believe His eyes light up and His chest expands when He wants to take us into Himself--just like incense.   I impact Him immediately, no explanation needed.  My fragrance takes Him back to a time before the world was when He fashioned me.  Before sin ever entered the picture.  When ocean breezes and lilacs, falling leaves and apple cider ruled in my heart. The best of His world given to create the best in mine.  Likewise my fragrance moves Him to a time in the future when only His song will be on my lips and my jeweled tiara will never be tilted or rusted!  It is to this place I go every time I encounter Him in worship.  He and I, outside of time, breathing together.  Enjoying together.

Once I asked my then six year old son if he knew what God smelled liked?  Puzzled, he said he didn't.  I then suggested He ask God himself.  Three seconds later, he nodded and whispered, "peaches.  God said he smells like peaches."  Pure and simple.  I think I'll ask Him what I smell like . . . .

No comments: