When I was pregnant with August, I developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum. That basically means that I couldn’t keep anything down, food or drink, and vomited a lot. I lost weight at an alarming rate. I developed an intense fear of food, based upon what happened to me after I tried to eat even a few bites. To say it was a really difficult time is an understatement.
One day, a couple of ladies from my church asked if they could come and pray over me. I was happy to have them, and they came and talked to me for a bit, then busted out some anointing oil and powerful prayer. It’s hard to describe that day in words, but during that prayer I felt that intense fear let go of me and leave. The oil they used had a very specific aroma to it. I remember after they left, I was relaxing for the first time in what felt like forever, and the smell of the oil was on the back of my couch where I had been resting my head. I burrowed in and breathed deeply, and that very specific smell helped to keep me in that place of amazing peace long after they had gone. Shortly after that, I started recovering and was able to eat again, and my weight loss stopped. I know God was with them that day, and that that hour of prayer helped me cope with the rest of the struggles of my condition.
The sense of smell is an amazing thing.
Every time I walk into our parish, I am overwhelmed by the aroma. I still am not sure if it is incense or the candles they burn, but it is beautiful, and it awakens my senses and prepares me for the encounter with my Savior that is ahead. That scent used to feel foreign to me, but now it feels like home. It draws my mind upward, that I am about to experience a connection with something extraordinary. As many things are in the Catholic world, the aroma of the church before mass is a physical and tangible way to connect my mind with the spiritual goings-on. It lifts my mind heavenward.
It reminds me of the back of of my couch that I burrowed my nose into, so sick, so desperate, just hoping that the scent would linger for a day or two longer before it faded. Only, at church, each time I enter, it is new and still there and fresh, and powerful. I don’t have to hope it doesn’t fade. It stays strong. And it helps prepare me to encounter the real presence of Jesus.
Another beautiful thing about being Catholic.