(full post at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com) I love fresh scents—the sun-warmed honeysuckle that dominates my fence in the summer, or the whole grain bread baking in my kitchen at wintertime, it’s all great! Evidently, our sense of smell not only brings pleasure or distaste, it also evokes memories from recent or far away past. I can barely stand the taste of coffee, but absolutely love to smell it in the morning at work or walking into a specialty store at a shopping mall. I’m sure this olfactory phenomenon has something to do with my dearly loved parents drinking coffee at home when I was growing up. And the musty odor of our basement when we moved into this old house many years ago immediately took me back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, a delightful and comforting thought.
Interesting creatures, we humans are. While we are quite proficient at compartmentalizing our human “pieces” to study and understand them, (things like our five senses of taste, touch, vision, hearing, and, oh yeah, smelling), we are not necessarily equally adept at reconstructing the pieces back into a whole to understand the impact of each piece on the other. We are, after all, created for synergy, not for isolation. Just ask anyone who has ever come in close personal contact with a skunk—the assault on the nose, in particular, has great impact on the feet, as a whole. (One might wonder how I know this…)
Thus I have entered the world of infusing my home with fragrances. I find this particularly helpful still living as we do in the same old house with the musty basement, and with the addition of a large dog who has full-home access. Through the years I’ve tried several experiments to make my home fragrantly acceptable: warm potpourri (both solid and liquid), various plug-ins, sprays, candles, wax warmers, et. al. There is, I have learned, an inherent problem with most of these arrangements in that they tend to have other chemical ingredients to which some people are terribly allergic. These extra ingredients, then, are not only a mere impediment to the enjoyment of the whole, they can actually be a danger to the part—not real conductive to an inviting atmosphere. (I have since found out that my own mother had had some trouble in our house because of my zealousness to home fragrances; I think she would have preferred the dog smell, having had household hunting dogs in her past homes.)
Which brings me to the present. I now use (almost entirely) 100% pure “essential oils” in my home. No special additives, just the oil. They pack a punch, and so must be used properly. I think there must be some credence to the idea that one can become accustom to an odor (good or bad) when around it consistently. I notice this when I have had my oil diffuser on, not considering it to be very strong or even noticing it much at all, until someone comes in from outside and comments, “Ooo, it smells soOO00oo good in here!”
Now, in addition to the “pleasant-ness” of the home, and the warm fuzzies that the fragrances evoke, some people are also inclined to believe that certain combinations of aromas can help produce certain beneficial effects on us humans. Granted, I’m not a sold-out disciple of all the current homeopathic trends, but seeing ourselves in an integrated way, as God originally designed us, makes some of the thinking about how our sense of smell affects us seem, well,… plausibly interesting.
There are a few notable parallels here when considering our mental, emotional, and most importantly, our spiritual environment:
- To begin with, when we try to add anything to what the Holy Spirit is trying to infuse into our lives, it becomes not only an impediment to what He wants to do in us and through us, but these additives can become downright destructive to those around Legalism or license, both are spiritually bloodthirsty. Whether we add to or subtract from His 100% pure oil (an age-old symbol of the Holy Spirit), anything but the real thing is dangerous.
- When we do allow only His pure oil – and it diffuses through our thoughts, words, responses, use of time, talent, and resources, etc – we often times are not even aware of the beneficial effect it is having on others. This comes with a consistently attentive walk with God regardless of, and many times deepened by, the sharp corners of our current existence.
- Our daily inward environment has an important, but many times hidden, impact on the rest of what is happening in our hearts and minds, as well as our physical bodies. Just as how certain aromas can evoke memories and feelings, so also our spiritual sensitivity has massive influence on our perspective, insight, and purpose. And yet this area of the spirit is sorely neglected, or even completed discounted, by our sophisticated (or sophomoric) culture. Jesus said that “the kingdom of God is within you.”
It would behoove us to pay attention, since He should know…