The bulk of my elementary years were lived in the small northeastern town of Gurnee, Illinois. It’s tucked inland, a mere six miles or so from the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. To say that the winters are cold there most likely will be an understatement. I’ve not known much that’s colder other than the winters in Minneapolis. Now, that’s cold!
One of the benefits of long, cold winters that are often filled with gray, wet days, is the promise of spring. For surely, every year it comes around. It may take it a few weeks to stick, but once it does you can’t beat what she brings; new and returning life without fail in all forms.
believe there are only three seasons in San Diego, California; spring, summer, and fall. We don’t seem to have winter here. I guess some might even question the idea of three seasons, but I’m convinced of it. I know when they come and go and which is usually determined by what is blooming and fading on the landscapes of our coastal city more so than what the calendar may say.
I know it’s May when four things begin to present themselves; the jacaranda trees, the agapanthus plants, the jasmine vines, and my personal favorite, the wax privet hedges. On a recent stroll, I happened upon all four and could feel my peaceful expression morph into a smile. But it was the wax privet hedge that caused me to pause and breathe in her delicious fragrant blossoms. I stood there for too long, I’m afraid. If anyone saw, they quite possibly could have questioned my intentions. But I was traveling. In that long, pregnant pause I returned to the days of my childhood to remember the field by my school that was the home for queen anne’s lace, wild sage, and the wax privet bushes. Many of them were taller than me and I loved to wander through, weaving in and out and around, like a honeybee from blossom to blossom, surrounding myself with their beauty in search of another one to enjoy. While it’s true that other foliage and plant life in the field held their loveliness, it was the delicate fragrance of the wax privet that held my sway. I hated to leave them as I returned to my short journey home.
History repeats itself and once again I left the fragrant blossoms to head for home. My eyes scanned the concrete streets and sidewalks, palm trees, front porches, fences, cars, and soft afternoon skies and the fragrance of the wax privet lingered on.
It didn’t take long for me to consider the power of fragrance. It has a transformative quality that awakens something in all of us. Perhaps that is why we read this in the following two biblical passages.
2 Corinthians 2:14-115 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
I think again of the field of my childhood and the influence of the blossoms of the wax privet. Over and above all the other growing bounty of spring – she is the one that commands my attention because of the power of her fragrance. I wouldn’t need to see her to know it was her. Whether in the yards of my southern California neighborhood, or the field of my childhood she has an awakening power over me.
And may that be said too of my life and its Christ-like influence on others; a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Fragrance. The fragrance of Christ.