I’m strolling through my garden, checking on what is coming back after a pleasant week of nourishing spring rain. I’m terrible about remembering the proper names of my perennials just by looking. I bend down, pluck a leaf between my thumbnail and pointer finger, crush it in my palms, rubbing its tenderness back and forth to squeeze out its particular oils, and breathe in its tangy, unique essence. My nose recognizes its identity better than my eyes do.

This simple test reminds me of how certain smells trigger in me past, poignant markers and my thoughts go there. Isn’t that the way life is, a collection of scented memories and redolent warnings?

There are the top notes perfumed by suggestions of tart, lemon zest or the gauzy, salt mist of sea breezes. There are the immersing, prevalent middle notes of sweet flowers, pungent herbs, and a savory, legacy red sauce bubbling on the stove.

However, we never forget the base notes that anchor our trials: fecund life changing experiences that torture our senses yet can result in a newborn’s breath of surprising purity. Base notes ground us with warrior memories when we persevered and stood our ground. From these struggles, we learned to trash the unbearables and keep the stabling essence of our strengths, always remembering the frankincense of what made us stronger. We learn that the essential oil of life is how we gift each other.

I recognize and savor each scented memory, looking forward to which combination of top, middle, and bass notes will bouquet my relationships next.

Whom will you annoint with your own essential oils today?

Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of costly aromatic oil from pure nard. After breaking open the jar, she poured it on his head.

Mark 14:3

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