I made my weekly trek to the dry cleaners today. Pulling up to the storefront, I reached for the bundle of my husband’s white shirts and was pulled into a reverie of sorts by the trace of cologne. I felt that little surge of emotion and my body went a little limp. What can I say? The man smells good.
Aromas have always triggered memories for me. I’m sure we all have certain “smells” from childhood that bring back memories.
My grandmother’s cheek always smelled sweetly of roses.
Elementary school always smelled like milk-infested mop water.
My home was a mix of aromas – the Dutch Master cigars my father smoked, the shoe polish my mother used on her nurses’ shoes, the pungent odor of the cat litter box, my poodle’s fur after too great a time had passed since his last bath, my brothers’ hot bodies after an afternoon of basketball, the caustic smell of cleaners in the bathroom, SOS pads in the kitchen, and the musty smell of old music books whose pages were turned nearly every evening as my father sat at his piano.
And who doesn't go back in time when the air is filled with that sweet aroma of freshly cut grass? Or a summer rain shower? Or that first fire in the fireplace each winter?
Years ago, my husband and I purchased a 1972 Datsun 240Z over the internet. It was the same type of car my husband drove when we first dated. The car was shipped to us from Arizona. It arrived while my husband was at work, so I had the pleasure of being the first to drive it. Sitting in the seat and smelling the strange aroma of gasoline and leather made my head spin. The memories flooded in, many of which I’d blush to include here.
I did a little research on the internet today about the connection between fragrances and memories. It seems there is a booming industry tied to aroma marketing! Here’s an excerpt from one web page… (http://www.scentair.com.au/aroma_marketing.html)
The sense of smell is the strongest of all human senses and the closest sense linked to memory. Every day we encounter aromas that have a powerful influence on our emotions, our moods and ultimately our behavior.
Aroma marketing is sweeping the retail industry as brand marketers are discovering the strong role scent can play in their efforts to distinguish their brand and connect with customers in a powerful way.
Aromas trigger memories. Memories influence emotions. Emotions set moods. And moods dictate reaction. It’s a powerful reality – a reality we make work for clients everyday.
Good Lord, now companies are controlling us through our sense of smell!
I want to return to one statement in particular above: "Every day we encounter aromas that have a powerful influence on our emotions, our moods and ultimately our behavior." Perhaps this truth is what Paul had in mind when he instructed the early church to be the fragrance of Christ:
14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
Jeez, Tammy, now you're saying I have even have to smell like God?? Well, not exactly. Yet we should put out a certain fragrance that influences those around us. The OT books of ... Deuteronomy? Leviticus? are filled with mandates from God about making various offerings, some of which are categorized as a burnt offering, a pleasing fragrance to God.
We are called to be a pleasing fragrance to God in the manner we live, speak, think and interact. And we are called to be that godly fragrance to others, to draw them in to Christ. To plant in their minds a certain association with a certain fragrance. Yet like many fragrances that have a tendency to find their source from within, the source of our godly fragrance is the Holy Spirit living in us. That is the fragrance that we offer to others. The fragrance that should linger after we have gone.