Petrichor

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We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.  –Psalm 74:9

How long has it been since your last experience of Petrichor?

Petrichor is, essentially, the smell of rain.  It’s a combination of bacteria being released from dry ground, and the smell of ozone, and the oil from certain dry plants.(Wikipedia)

It’s a wonderful, fresh scent.  The scent of new beginnings.  Starting over.  Purity.

The scent of God-presence.

I love that scent, and I’m happy to say that we’ve had so much water this spring, here in South Central Kansas, that I’ve smelled Petrichor on a number of occasions.

But I’ve had my dry spells.  Long, spiritually barren spans when hope wasn’t to be found, and emptiness was punctuated by parched coughing spells. I’ve had moistureless nights when it seemed everyone around me was lost, too.   No signs.  No prophets.  No scents.

I’ve tried seeding clouds with my tears, to no avail.  I’ve tried dancing and chanting and praying, and still the dry spell continued.  And then…

Petrichor.  Named after combining the Greek words for “rock”, and the “fluid” that runs through the veins of the Gods. (Wikipedia)  It reminds me of God in the dessert, saying…

I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”  –Exodus 17:6a

None of the Israelites mention any fragrance that accompanied that miracle.  Perhaps they were too thirsty to pay attention. I wonder, did the water God sent smell like Petrichor?  I like to think so.  I think God sends Petrichor in remarkable and commonplace settings, in great floods and bare sprinkles.

And sometimes, yes, God even sends the agonizing dry spell. Why? Is it to test us and torture us with dust and heat?  Or is this all part of the natural rhythms of God’s created systems?  Water follows dust, wet follows dry.  I tend to think of Petrichor as no more possible to predict than any of God’s other rhythms.

We’re moving into the dry months, I know.  I will try to find God in the wilderness, in the dust.  But somedays, as an act of hope, I plan to raise my head towards the sky, and sniff, and declare the thrill of my createdness:

Hallelujah, it smells like rain.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Christmas Stinks (And I’m glad)

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PRESENTING:

The Yankee Candle Christmas Eve Edition.

Unfortunately, my monitor isn’t scratch and sniff, so I can’t absorb the scent personally.

But it looks like it would be delightful.

One reviewer described the scent like this:

First bought this scent over 20 years ago, and it is our Christmas family favorite. Reminds me of Christmas Eve at church with the scents of the newly decorated trees, and candles burning as you walk into the dimly lit building..a mild scent of sugared plum, with the essence of vanilla…perfect for setting that Christmas Eve ambiance in any room!

It’s enough to make you nostalgic for Christmas Eves gone by.

Except the first one.

The first one didn’t smell like that.  No sugared plums.  No pine trees.

Nope, if they ever made an authentic Yankee Candle scent for the first Christmas Eve it might look like this:

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And don’t get me started on the lovely scent of unwashed Shepherds!

No, years and years before Christmas became an annual tradition, before the whole notion of the Savior’s birth became sanitized and mass-produced, Christmas was in all likelihood a stinky mess!

That’s helpful for me to remember.  Jesus was not born into a sterile environment, under ideal conditions.

No, God chose to come to Earth where there was POOP present!

Poop, and blood, and smelly hay, and smelly animals, and even smellier shepherds.

Christ’s birth was visceral.  Primitive, even.  Organic.

The very earthiness of that first Christmas Eve should inspire us.  Challenge us.

God did not separate God’s self from God’s creation.  Not in the least.

From Jesus’ first breath and first cry, he was immersed in the world.  The beautiful parts, and the stinky parts.

And as anyone who’s lived a full life can attest…

One does not rule out the other.

Merry Christmas!

Mitch

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