The other day I was walking into school and started to smell something. It was faint, hardly noticeable, and in the frenetic environment of a city easily missed. As I walked, I kept thinking to myself, "I know this smell." I couldn't quite figure it out. Then it hit me - it was grass. You know it that scent of grass is beginning to grow or shortly after a lawn is mowed. Growing up that was the fragrance of Spring.
I don't know that I would have noticed that much in the past few years. Part of it may be that I would be in my car as I went from place to place and just never slowed down enough to enjoy it. Smelling it that morning made me aware of my surroundings. I was walking passed Holyrood Palace at the time. The area has some (not a lot, we are still in the middle of the city) vegetation. I started to notice the branches on the trees were starting to show their buds. There were flowers starting to bloom. Spring time was actually here. I turned the corner to walk up the Royal Mile and head into school. In an instant the scent was gone, and it was bus exhaust, cigarette smoke, and the aroma that wafts off a garbage truck.
Nevertheless, as I kept walking I was reminded of Springs in the past. The days as a kid when I would start taking my baseball bat out and playing ball with friends in the cul-de-sac. Getting ready for track and field's outdoor season to start. Having horrible allergy attacks, so that all I wanted was ice cream to sooth my throat. Spring meant school was almost over. Summer cookouts were just around the corner. All of these memories came flooding back from just that one smell. Not only that, it made me more aware of where I was and what time it was.
Before I took in the aroma of that fresh grass, I wouldn't have had a second thought about where we were in the year. It would have been hard to recall last Spring much less the Springs of my childhood. It is a fascinating thing how forgetful we are. We so often need sensible experiences to wake us up from our slumber. This is what is so amazing about our God. He knows this. He knows that we need to see and feel. We need to taste and hear. We need to smell things to really retain them. And he does this for us!
Every time we come to the Lord's Supper the Gospel is spoken to us in a picture. We come to the table and hear the gospel proclaimed. We grasp hold of it with our hands. We taste it with our mouths. We smell it with our noses. This then causes in us, a moment of remembrance. We are reminded who we are and to whom we belong. At the Table what has been dis-membered throughout our week, is re-membered. At the Table we are given a picture. (On a side note, this is why we don't believe in imaging God. He has already given us images to use in baptism and the Lord's Supper.)
I hate that I forget so much. But, oh, those glorious moments when I remember. Those are the moments that are exciting. I remember who I am and where I am. I am a forgetful person, but the Lord has ordained things to remind me. Sometimes it is the smell of grass, to get me to stop and look around. Often it is the sacraments, to remind me who I am and to whom I belong.