There was only one strawberry in the entire patch, but I could smell it. I couldn’t see it, but I could smell its sweet perfume. It was strong and heady, nearly knocking me to my knees as I clipped off runners to plant for later. Eventually, as I foraged through the forest of strawberry plants, the fruit was found. It was set aside for later.
To smell the fragrance of a fruit before one even sees it is a joyful thing. It is hard to not smile at the recognition of a familiar smell that is associated with goodness. What is the fragrance of faith? In the second letter to the Corinthians are these words: “…thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God…”
Most of us would prefer people not smell us before they see us. We don’t associate our ministries with fragrances and aromas. Some of the sharpest memories are recalled though, through the sense of smell. What aromas do people associate with those of us who follow Christ? Baking bread? Freshly brewed coffee? Food cooking? Freshly cleaned room? Old carpet smell? New carpet smell?
When my sister visited once a long time ago, she walked behind me into the church at Pomona and said, “It smells like a church”. I asked her, “What does that smell like?” For her, they were familiar smells, even though she hadn’t been in a church for years. The aroma was a pleasant association, a safe home association. I wondered what combination of coffee, cleaning supplies, cooked food, etc. blended to create this fragrance that for her was so specific. I wonder too if there is an aroma for grace and perhaps it lingers where people of God who practice grace have been.
The fragrance of that one strawberry lingers still over a week later. I carefully took it to the kitchen, gingerly washed it off and in two slow, luxuriant bites, ate the ripe fruit. It was delicious!
The aroma of Christ should linger eternally through those who open their lives to the grace of God. The aromas, the fragrances that linger are the remembrances of the fruit we bear, fruits of social justice, compassion and love. Smell ya later.