I remember the scent of the mountains in summer, of pine and cedar, of pressing my nose into the bark of a Ponderosa pine for a whiff of vanilla; of the sharp scent of sage after a summer storm.

Here by the lake the air is cold and clear, but later there will be the smells of damp earth, lake water, and lilacs.

Smells evoke memories. They soothe us and warn us. The smell of fire brought alarm when I lived in the parched California mountains. Here it brings the happy thoughts of friends cooking s’mores, of laughter and companionship.

He breathed this air once, born into manure and hay, the warm breath of his mother, smoky oil lamps, and the wood shavings of Joseph’s carpentry shop. He breathed in the dampness of reeds and river at his baptism; the tang of sea air and drying fish on the shore of Galilee; the smoldering of a charcoal fire, laughing with his friends. He drew close to the rotting flesh of the leper; to Lazarus’ decomposing body;  He breathed in the perfume of Mary’s anointing, of fresh bread broken and wine poured out on His final earth-bound night.

God said that our prayers rise before Him like incense, sweet.

I breathe in hope this night, and peace. The sweetness of heaven sifts down with the starlight, assuring me that home awaits, just a breath away.

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