Yesterday, I awakened with a sore throat. Not just a scratchy kind of throat – a full blown, hurts like the dickens when you try to swallow kind of sore throat. And I was scheduled to substitute teach for the day. So I gargled with salt water. Drank my hot tea before I left the house. One of my teacher friends gave me some throat drops. I popped extra-strength Tylenol for good measure and kept my water bottle handy to hydrate all day long.
All of that did absolutely nothing. By the end of the day, I felt as if I were swallowing broken pieces of glass. After arriving home, I grabbed the salt shaker and dumped salt into a warm glass of water. Some more gargling, more hot tea, more over the counter meds. To no avail. I even ate marshmallows after I read online -you know it has to be true if you read it online! [insert sarcasm here] – that some magic ingredient in those fluffy bits of sweetness soothes the raging beast of a sore throat.
I really didn’t feel unwell, my throat just screamed that it was being ripped into shreds. It’s my weak point, my throat. I’ve heard that when a virus attacks your body, it goes straight for the
jugular the weakest point in your body. Mine has always been my throat. So I know something’s in the works when my throat starts to bother me.
Figuring that I should rest since I have more subbing to do this week, I entertained myself at the computer in between marshmallows and tea and warm, salty water. My husband had ventured outdoors to complete the lawn mowing and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the empty nest and tried not to swallow too much.
I could hear the drone of the trusty John Deere lawn and garden tractor motor as hubby maneuvered it back and forth over the front yard. And then…nothing. It stopped. I heard the front door open and hubby stepped inside. I looked up getting ready to question whether ol’ Deere had suddenly given up the ghost or something, but hubby’s outstretched hand stopped me.
In it, he held one sprig of lily of the valley, the first to bloom of the season. “I don’t know if you can smell it or not,” hubby began, “but I know you love these.”
Being ever so glad that my nose was not affected by my affliction yet, I held those tiny, delicate little white bells of fragrance up to inhale a whiff. Ah, so sweet! And then that fragrance transported me to another place and time. Just like sweet-smelling scents do so often.
That lily of the valley perfume takes me home to the house where I grew up and fills my mind with sweet memories. We transplanted a few of these plants from my parents’ house several years ago when we first started landscaping our yard. Those graceful plants encircled a huge, old lilac bush in my parents’ back yard. That lilac, another of my favorite fragrant blooms, had been there as long as I could remember.
My fond memories included picking bouquets of those lavender blooms to bring into our house. They made it smell oh so good! My husband planted a small lilac bush in our back yard, but it proved to be favorite feast fodder for the deer as they’ve almost stripped the shrub bare of its leaves. Yet a few fragrant blossoms appear and I savor their scent.
Another spring/summer aroma that brings sweet memories to mind is honeysuckle. On a warm day when I’m driving the car with the windows wide open, I’ll occasionally catch the scent of honeysuckle in the air. Oh, so delicious.
The aroma of honeysuckle brings to mind a skinny, little girl plunked down on a neighbor’s back porch swing chatting away with an older lady, who listened patiently and kindly. That little girl was me. The neighbor was Mrs. White who lived across the country road from us. She was not only a kind and good neighbor, she also was my Sunday School teacher for a time.
Every afternoon I walked to the newspaper boxes to retrieve our daily paper and Mrs. White’s paper too, which I would deliver to her back door. She always found time to chat with me no matter what she was doing. She would invite me to sit on the back porch swing with her and talk. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember always feeling loved by her. And I remember most vividly inhaling the scent of honeysuckle which entwined its way through the latticework at one end of her porch. Honeysuckle always reminds me of sweet Mrs. White.
Today as my sore throat slowly subsides but my nose is starting to feel the effects of a cold virus, I’m thinking about those fragrances I cherish and how thankful I am to have the sense of smell. Fragrances (as long as we’re not allergic to them) are a delight – they invoke memories or entice us to savor a lovely flower or a delicious meal.
And I’m reminded that I’m called to be a sweet fragrance to others. Why? Because I find my identity in my Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s who I am – a believer in Christ. So I seriously take heart in what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16: “But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” (New Living Translation)
This empty nest mother – yes me – the one with the raw throat and the now runny nose and stuffed up ears – I desire to be a life-giving perfume, a Christ-like fragrance to all I meet.
Some days it’s so very difficult to do and I feel most inadequate for the task. Other days that sweet scent just pours from my heart. But I try my best. And that’s the important thing. To share the lovely and loving fragrance of having a Savior with those who need to meet Him or know Him better.
And now as I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to minister along with my (in)courage co-leaders to other women, this is the desire of my heart and my prayer. May I be the sweet-smelling fragrance of Jesus.
“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses.” ~ Anonymous