Without a doubt, I have been richly blessed with friends who love to eat. In addition to our shared pastime and life-giving, life-sustaining hobby, my friends represent a number of different cultures to which they have remained faithful and attached. One evening a couple of weeks ago, we decided on an Italian-Indian night and made a veritable feast of the evening. What a night, and what a weight-gaining evening!
Obviously, there were many wonderful garlic and curry combinations that I couldn’t begin to pronounce much less list at this moment. Needless to say, the next day, I knew that I must return to the local gym to attempt, however feebly, to stave off the potential damage to my waist and calorie quota for the week and board the closest cardio stepping/walking/climbing apparatus in sight. My timing was stellar as I entered the local athletic facility and found my favorite torture machine readily available sandwiched (pardon the food comparison) between two others who, like me, were clearly not in the running as America’s Top Models or who had ever missed a meal. Immediately I climbed aboard and began the arduous entrance into athletic performance and much sweating, trying desperately to avoid all the strange noises or groans and mumbles as one tries to act twenty years less their actual age. I am not sure how many of our readers actually have an exercise code of behavior for the gym or are even aware of any such etiquette compilation, but I do not usually speak to people around me unless the occasion calls for it and on this particular day, I think it did. After about twenty minutes of pretty intense perspiration, I could tell something was different but was not exactly sure what it was. My fellow panter to the left then made it clear what I suspected. We caught each other’s glances quickly and then he innocently asked, “Are they having a pizza party here today? Sure smells good!” Realizing exactly what he meant and pretending to agree with his assessment, I turned toward the main entrance and sheepishly said, “Yeah, I think it’s someone’s birthday!”
By now, I believe you all know what happened: the rich seasonings of garlic and curry, among others, slowly and methodically seeped into my blood stream and eventually found their way to and through my sweat glands giving off an amazing aroma that must have suggested that yet another banquet was on the way. And for a second, maybe there was indeed a kind of enriching encounter about to begin that is played and replayed all day of our lives. Consider this Scripture passage as quite pertinent for our expanded time to consider who we are and where we are going: “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2) Think about this for a second. Even before we leave the comfort of our homes, we begin to emit something, an aroma perhaps. This aroma could be in the form of an attitude, an aura or a general climate or attitude that just is very obvious especially to those who know and love us and even to those who do not. The minute we walk through the door, we bring something to the room, the conversation and to those we encounter. Imagine that we have just received horribly bad or discouraging news. Don’t you think people around us will notice? What if it is just one of those bright days full of clarity and hope? The same is true. People notice. We radiate. We give off a distinct aroma. And the more wonderful and mystical aspect to all this, is the fact we make the choice of which aroma or fragrance we wish to influence our surroundings.
Let’s take this one more step further: what if our aroma was actually a person? Could we say that we actually radiate and bring forth the spirit and life of another to our day? Absolutely, and you know where this is going: the Eucharist. When we say “yes” the Paschal Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we truly are empowered with the ability to emit and radiate the real person of Christ to everyone, even to ourselves. Could this be the beginning of a brand new way to live life? Today I want to experience Christ in my life and show Him to everyone as if I was introducing someone very close to me to everyone in my life who is near and dear to me. Imagine how different things would be if everyone had that same goal!
Perhaps a great step in that direction would be to consider this wonderful “aromatherpeutic” prayer composed by Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890). Pray it slowly now and see what happens. Devour its message, and order from this spiritual menu so that your aroma will surprise, comfort and heal your world. Nothing is impossible with God.
“Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine. It will be you, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise you the way you love best, by shining on those around me. Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you. AMEN.”