Olfactory Noise (8)

Mood music invades our thoughts in most every venue including Lowes and Home Depot. Visit some homes and the conversation will compete with the sports broadcast or streaming music channel for the stage. Something about silence frightens people. We could write many words from both viewpoints—those who dread the silence as well as those who struggle with the cacophony of background noise—but today we need to consider another type of noise—olfactory noise. Take a sniff. We are surrounded by scents, aromas, and sometimes outright stink.

Shawn and I do not agree on the choice of scented products. She thrives in a heavy cloud of Febreze while I prefer the sanitary aroma of Lysol. Out of consideration for her I dump a dash of Mr. Clean into the mop bucket to add a gentle lavender scent. Truthfully, once the capful of product is diluted the scent is hardly noticeable. Alas, our bottle of cleaning elixir ran dry, and I thought Shawn was teasing when she said she could not find the product at the grocery stores she frequents.

I volunteered to check the hunting grounds I visit, the places where I get in, get whatever, and get out quickly. I was convinced she was not looking hard enough.

Olfactory Noise (2)

I stood in Walmart sniffing bottles of floor cleaner in my search for a gently scented product. The two flavors of Mr. Clean on the shelf, Summer Citrus and Febreze, could burn the hairs out of a buzzard’s nostrils. I’ll pass. I chose Lysol Clean and Fresh and scampered home, delighted with myself for solving the problem.

Olfactory Noise (5)

I heard the roll of Shawn’s eyes as she helped unpack my purchases. She disapproved of the choice without uncapping the bottle.

Shawn met her essential oil dealer and acquired a bottle of something called Thieves. One capful in a gallon of water makes all the cleaning solution we need. In marriage going along to get along often becomes the surest path to harmony. On mopping day I dutifully added the capful of Thieves to my bucket, and as I gasped to recover my breath I understood the origin of the name. Good grief! At Shawn’s suggestion I cut the dose to half a capful which was breathable.

Meanwhile my bottle of Clean and Fresh idles on the shelf.

Olfactory Noise (1)

We needed trash bags—white plastic thirteen gallon kitchen bags with drawstring. The product has existed since my childhood and should be a staple in any home goods aisle. I searched diligently and discovered that the scent-lovers have taken control of trash bags. Citrus Twist? Tropical Paradise? In trash bags? Get serious, people!

Let me explain why unscented offers a distinct advantage in bagging trash. Trash by its nature includes a countdown timer. Once the timer expires the homeowner is given a gentle reminder that it’s time for a change. Ignored reminders increase in urgency until the trash issue can no longer be disregarded. And pity the fool who departs for a long vacation without emptying the can.

Perhaps you do not believe me? Try an easy experiment. Trim the fatty parts from raw chicken and deposit them along with the bones in the trash. Or use the fish wrapper and leftover scales. Wait twenty-four or even forty-eight hours if you dare. Open the lid and inhale deeply through your nose. Still think trash bags need to be scented?

Vegetarians might substitute aged broccoli for the chicken and though the wait might be longer the trash’s reminder will be the same.

And what about personal scents? For perfume or cologne we should follow these easy rules. Pftt pftt is OK. Pftt pfffffttt pftt pftttttttt pftttttt pftt is not. If you feel that pftt pfffffttt pftt pftttttttt pftttttt pftt is the absolute minimum necessary before heading out then consider scheduling a session in the shower. Seriously, we all have to live together on this orbiting ball, and we cannot roll down a window as we rocket through space.

This week I helped my son-in-law drop ten trees in preparation for a fence project. Two days later I donned my gloves for another project, and the hint of freshly-cut poplar on the leather overpowered the built up smell of years of hard work. A natural aroma. God has created others for us to enjoy.

  • The smell of the air after a summer rain
  • The aroma of a freshly manicured lawn or a newly cut hay field
  • The fragrance of fully-baked-ready-for-the-garden compost
  • The traces of tomato vines on our arms and hands as we tend the garden
  • The discovery of salvia’s bouquet as we tiptoe through the flower bed
  • The perfume of lavender (or basil or thyme or rosemary) released by a gentle pinch
  • The heavenly scent rising from a cuddly clean baby

Many writers of the Old Testament used the phrase “soothing aroma” to describe sacrifices offered to God. I recall the joy I felt as the aroma of Mom’s freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies greeted me at the end of a long school day. Wonder if that memory describes in a small way God’s feelings when I perform an act of kindness or offer a prayer just to thank or praise Him?

The psalmist contrasted God’s senses with that of idols in these pointed verses. An idol has no sense of smell, and therefore the sacrifices offered in its worship can make no difference.

They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell;
Psalms 115:5-6 NASB

The ultimate aroma from a sacrifice rose to God through the person and work of His only Son, Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

This powerful sacrifice continues to change lives, and it creates a bond of fellowship between men and women, boys and girls. The Jesus-aroma emanating from us transcends race, wealth, nationality, even political party. Have you experienced that fragrance? Are you a contributing source?

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB

Sometimes we have to tune out the distractions before we grasp the lesson. That works with scents as well as speech.