“Man it smells good in here. What’d you cook tonight? I can’t distinguish all the aromas,” Chad said as he walked into the back door of the parish hall.
“What does your nose tell you?” I asked.
“For sure, I smell falafels, the spices and the olive oil, that much I know.”
I held up a plate of the chickpea patties covered with aluminum foil. Chad smiled. “Okay what else?” I asked.
“Hmm, there’s something else in the air but I can’t quite make it out. The falafels are making my mouth water. But, there’s something else you baked, ah, that’s it, you baked bread.”
“Yep, I baked a batch of whole wheat and honey communion bread, its fresh out of the oven.” I held up another plate, stacked with six of the round loaves.
“Whoa, that combination of smells is almost intoxicating,” Chad said as carried his guitar into the parish hall to set up for another evening of Saint Brigid’s Community and Peregrini.
The reading for our worship the evening was from John 14. “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”
I asked the group, “When you close your eyes and let your memory drift, what are the best smells that come to you?”
“My grandmother and I were so close,” Ruth responded in tears. “After she died, my mom asked me to help sort out my grandmother’s things. When I opened the closest, my grandmother’s clothes were still hanging there. I put my face into her dress and I could smell my grandmother,” the emotion was too much for Ruth to continue.
“I remember the smell of our new born son,” someone said.
“The smell of my mother’s Thanksgiving dinners,” came from a voice tucked down in a sofa near the back of the room.
“A freshly mowed lawn,” said another.
“When I close my eyes and let myself go into that special place, I can still smell the sweet aroma of my wife the first time we kissed, forty years ago.” That was my offering.
A smell will trigger our most powerful memory. Blessed aromas that evoke sweet memories draw the rest of our being into complete integration,
Later in the evening Ruth spoke about the presence of God in the whole of our being, in the smell of our sensuality, in the completeness of our lives. She suggested to us that the liturgy of our Eucharistic prayers, are indeed sensual texts because they fetch all of our memory and imagination into the present moment.
Alyssa reminded us of last year when she had injured her foot and couldn’t dance. Being forced to sit on the sidelines while her classmates continued rehearsing for recitals was almost too much to bear. Her professor invited her to lie on floor and go through her routine as if she were floating through the air. Her memories carried her without putting pressure on her foot.
Annie’s soft voice drew our attention from the end of the line of tables. She rarely speaks into these gatherings. We all leaned into her voice.
“I’ve been journaling a lot lately. Sometimes I find myself just writing words and wondering, ‘why these words?’ And I realize I’m writing my prayer thoughts. I’ve wondered if I could close my eyes and write my thoughts?” Collectively, we leaned into our own space and closed our eyes. Silence held us together for a bit.
I wonder if we could live our lives with our eyes closed, relying and trusting only on the aroma of the Holy Spirit to lead us?