Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the sanctity of scent

(I recently posted this on another blog, but wanted to share it here.)

When we first moved into the trailer, I remember that one thing stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to adding difficulty to the adjustment. The ants?A little annoying. The small space? A bit frustrating. The heat? Somewhat aggravating.

The smell? Completely disheartening. It almost put me in tears several times, and not because it was making my eyes water.

I am learning that there is something sacred about smell. It makes sense even when one looks at it scripturally. God refers to Israel's actions and heart as either a pleasing aroma or a stench to him. Disobedience is literally compared to an offensive smell! And indeed, there is something about smell that touches us in a deep place. Ask a missionary what was hard about adjusting to a new place, and more often than not, you will hear about the odor. Observe a mourning family member with their nose buried in the clothing of the lost loved one, holding on to the scent. Watch the way that a particular smell can bring back memories so vividly that one will laugh out loud or melt into tears.

The rising spring temperatures are beginning to bring out the smells that winter had subdued in our home. Walking into the trailer, we are often stunned to feel our senses offended by a foul stench. More than that, we walk out of the trailer knowing that our clothes smell the same way. It is a little awkward. And I can see it on all of our faces: it is disheartening.

In our society, we make quick judgements based on how someone smells. We go so far as to think of someone as lazy, uneducated, or worthless when they walk in smelling badly. Yet here I am, well-adjusted, a leader in many settings, with an almost-completed master's degree, and I smell the same as those among whom I live. It is such a tangible--and uncomfortable--part of living in solidarity. Sometimes I want to just escape it, to run away and live somewhere where my clothes will smell sweet. Yet I realize how shallow that is in the end. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives for him. Period.

Let us be a people, a group of Christ-followers, who give a second thought to our assumptions about those whose odor offends our senses. Perhaps they have a spouse who smokes, and will not quit despite their pleading. Perhaps they work a job that would make most of us cringe, just because they are committed to feeding their families. Perhaps economic circumstances have forced them into housing that, no matter how clean they themselves are, will forever carry the scent of careless previous tenants.

Ultimately, we must face this: the judgment we hand out is a far greater stench to God than anything or anyone that may cross our paths today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

when the ink runs dry

I am realizing that I am not a writer.

That will sound strange to many who read this, but it is true. I am not, as klerch, a writer. I have nothing to say. Yes, the scarcity of posts over the last few months have had much to do with busyness. But mostly, I am realizing they have to do with the a greater scarcity: on my own, I truly have nothing to say. I am only a writer as klerch, daughter of God, lover of Christ. Writing is his gift to me. When writing comes out of me, it is his own voice speaking to me and through me.

I have known it for a long time now--known it in the quiet places in my mind--but a recent time of worship brought it to the fore: Somewhere in the last couple years, I have lost the sweet intimacy that once marked my relationship with God. I am walking with him, sure. Still learning things. But I could not sing the words that once brought me to tears: "Your love is extravangant...I find I'm moving to the rhythm of your grace." My ink has run dry.

And I have had nothing to say.

Ever so persistently, I hear the Father calling me to return to a place of intimacy with his Spirit. I am weary of watching the writer in me--that sweet gift of his to my heart--collect dust in the corner while I soldier on like a walking set of dry bones. I long for his breath to bring me back to life, for him to be writing his own love and grace all over the pages of my heart.

In Christ and Christ alone, I am a writer. It is the greater truth of who I am. May I soon find myself moving to the rhythms of his grace, and feeling his words flow through my fingers again. I know he is waiting there. And I know he has much to say.