Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: Release from Death
By Helga Doermer
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A refreshing scent wafted in on the breeze, an invitation to breathe deep of a heady perfume. It was the fragrance of miniature lilacs, released from newly opened blossoms. Inhaling the intoxicating smell was to infuse my waiting soul in its purifying promise and eradicate the traces of an oppressive winter
It is no wonder the memory lingers. Fragrance is known to stir and stimulate responses. It is remembered long after other recollections have faded from our consciousness. Perhaps it is this characteristic of associative lingering that has spawned its wide use from ancient times until now. Records of its value in perfumes, medicines, and religious rituals, have been left behind in every culture. The biblical writings include their share of references. One of the most interesting is found in Wisdom’s self description.
Like cassia and camel's thorn I gave forth perfume, and like choice myrrh I spread my fragrance, like galbanum, onycha, and stacte, and like the odor of incense in the tent.
(2 Esdras 24:15 NRSV)
I read these words and contemplate the human relationship to the Divine. It seems a fitting metaphor for the One whose breath bequeathed life. Fragrance is an exhalation of living plants expelling oxygen. This is the life force that we breathe in. More than that, fragrance is known to be purifying and healing, used to promote well-being and the vivaciousness of the spirit.
Returning to the memory of a fragrant morning, the scent had a further effect on me. Not only did I take pleasure in its intoxicating smell, but also responded to its invitation to be still. My eyes closed. I stood in silence. My breath slowed. I inhaled more deeply. In the blessedness of the moment, a profound peace welled within.
This is what it is to be in the presence of the Divine – like a fragrance fresh and healing, drawing me toward the sacred – releasing me from the death of winter.
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