"The roses are Rosa Centifolia: 'hundred petal' roses, or cabbage roses, their frilly, disheveled flowers often bowing under their own weight. The species is prized for its clear, sweet, honeyed scent. If it were a musical instrument, it might be a flute." (from an article in The New Yorker, March 19, 2018, by Lauren Collins describing the roses used for creating the iconic fragrance of Chanel Nº 5).
The subject of scents surfaced for me this week. I thought of the pleasure the sense of smell brings to me. I often take it for granted. The roasted tang and fragrance of coffee in the early morning can give me a boost of encouragement for the day ahead. The warmth and comfort of smelling newly washed towels can center me on an ordinary day. The scent of lemons and rosemary can clear my mind. Burying my nose in the soft fur of a puppy brings delight. Holding a baby, inhaling the essence of newly birthed humanity defines joy.
Perfume is a reminder too. When I smell the cologne Escape, I immediately think of the love I have for my husband as he wore that scent early in our relationship. Smelling the fragrance acts as a kind of book of remembrance to those early, new days of our love. One brief whiff can stir poignant, rich memories.
I needed reminders this week, as I failed miserably. I came home from work exhausted and weak from the unrealistic expectations my worksite places on its employees. When I think I've "checked all the boxes," I find there is a page more to be checked. It was at that vulnerable moment my husband complained that I'd not handled paying a bill in the ideal way. I came unhinged, yelling at him, using "always" and "never" statements. He was in the midst of cutting tree limbs with a chain saw. My fury was so intense, that my voice rose above the rumbling motor of the saw. I could feel my body shaking, my nostrils flaring. My heartrate sky rocketed. I stormed off, got in my car and headed for the beach.
I stood on the pier, the sky smoldering and gray. The wind whipped my hair away from my face. I could taste salt on my lips from dried tears. My mind raced, ticking through all the ways my husband didn't understand me, the ways he infuriated me with his detached emotions. The way he loved machines, espeically that dreadful chain saw. My thoughts waxed as dark as the clouds. And it was then I took a deep breath. I inhaled the scent of rain, and the wild beauty of that scent interrupted my unraveling thought process. How I loved that smell--something no one can really describe--like the scent of of roses, or jasmine or gardenias. I inhaled again, and that glorious fragrance reminded me that I could choose a different pathway. I loved my husband, and I knew he loved me. I needed to apologize. I needed to ask his forgiveness. I needed to handle my anger in a more constructive way. I needed to remember that a belief system defining me as "never enough" was a lie. There on that pier, I realized that God always sees me as His beloved, His daughter who He adores. I remembered that He was delighted with my response and my story and my process. I could go back home and ask my husband's forgiveness and start again.
My husband accepted my apology, said he understood. He kissed me. The scent of rain. A prayer of invocation.