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What is Your Fragrance?

Helen Keller said “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” 

Me in first grade
Me in first grade

As a first grade teacher, I spend a lot of time around people, especially little people.  There are none more frank or forthright than them. I suppose that is one thing that draws me to them. 

Our first day following Christmas break, I breezed by Rodrigo’s desk. Always quick to share his thoughts, he exclaimed “That smell…What is that smell?” Sheepishly I backpedaled.  “Mrs. Bailey, it’s you.  You smell SOOO good. Ummm, I want to smell that smell more, all the time. Yum!” Clearly, my new fragrance of Burberry Goddess was a hit with him.

Eye candy

A favorite passage of mine, Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children. Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” In this Lenten season, I am reminded of the life Jesus lived on this earth. Willingly He left Heaven and came to voluntarily show himself to humanity. His feet walked our roads, his hands healed hearts and hurts, and his tears fell alongside ours. Ultimately, he died in my place, for my sins and yours. 

Winter in Whitmer Woods can seem bleak and dark at times. Walks kicking up crunchy skeletons of lifeless leaves can seem so dead and stinky. Yet from under those same leaves can spring hope, new life, and even beauty. Feverfew, Eryngium, and other flower friends are covered and protected. Under the dead leaves is life. At just the right time, death will give way to that new life. 

Can you spot the eryngium?
Can you spot the eryngium?

As Jesus gave his life for the very people who killed him and for all of humanity, he did it all willingly. He fulfilled his purpose of showing us just how much God loves us. Further, he came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Philippians 2:7-9 speaks of Jesus pouring his life out as a drink offering for us. 

A Chinese proverb says “Flowers leave some of their fragrance in that hand that bestows them.” As I live each of my moments, whether it be waiting in a long line at Target, getting cut off in a Scheel’s parking lot, or trying to help a student understand place value, I am like that flower.  I will be leaving a fragrance in some of the hands by which I pass.  The question is “What kind of fragrance do I leave behind?” 


Lavender is a favorite herb of mine.  Often my subscribers will comment “I smell lavender in my bouquet.  I see it, but I also smell it.” Anyone who has handled lavender knows it’s best smelled after having pressure applied and even being crushed. As it’s crushed, its fragrance lingers and certainly leaves fragrance in the hand that bestows it. Additionally, lavender has medicinal and calming power. Those are the kinds of effects and aroma I want to have.  I want to smell like Jesus and lavender. 

Feverfew makes such happy little bouquets
Feverfew makes such happy little bouquets

Yet, on my own, I can’t be like Jesus or lavender.  I need help.  I need to be connected to life and soil, otherwise I’m like those stinky, dead leaves. God is my help and my salvation. Psalm 121:1 says it best. “I lift my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” It’s then, and only then, that I can smell like lavender and Jesus.  (And I’d probably have a little Burberry in there too.)

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