I attended a MOPS meeting yesterday on Post. The speaker was a Chaplin's wife whose children are adults now. She talked about the importance of leaving a legacy for future generations. She said our legacy is like a scent. It can be sweet like perfume or stinky like garbage. Then she asked the question; what smell will you leave behind?
I thought this was a wonderful metaphor! They say smells can invoke the strongest memories. It's true. When I was 5 years old my family visited Yellowstone National Park. 30 years later I still think of that trip when I smell a strong eggy smell. (Because of the sulfur there).
We take our sense of smell for granted. I know because I have terrible allergies that cause swelling in my nasal passages. I will go weeks without smelling much of anything. This can be a good thing. I don't smell dirty diapers or garbage. Then again I don't smell dirty diapers or garbage. I also don't smell flowers or strawberries or fresh-baked bread.
When the swelling subsides and I can suddenly smell again, I feel a bit overwhelmed. A side effect of this is that I don't have much sense of taste either. I remember in college adding cayenne pepper to some noodles I was eating. They were red with the spice. My roommate walked into the room and was so assaulted by the strong smell that her eyes started to water. I couldn't even taste it!
I thought of all of this as I listened to the speaker yesterday. Are there times when we are in the presence of people who "smell" good or bad and don't realize it? Is our ability to be influenced by them dulled by worldly distractions?
What about our own efforts to affect the world? Are we trying hard to leave a lasting legacy in a world that is incapable of noticing?
What about artificial smells? There is a huge industry of scented candles, air fresheners, fabric fresheners, scented lotions, soaps, detergents, deodorants, etc. What effect do these fake scents have on us? Do we try to create artificial "scents" in our lives, too? Do we go through the motions and put on an act to cover up the "bad smell" we are creating? Will those fake scents wear off and reveal the true smell someday?
I really appreciated this idea and all the thoughts it inspired. I know there are tiems when I try to ignore problems or put them aside becasue I am not willing or able to deal with them. I also know that only a true cleansing throught repentance can erase the smells left from misdeeds. I kow the Lord will bless our efforts to create a legacy full of sweet smells and happy memories.