I’m back from skiing in the Italian Alps (Livigno) with family, totally away from the warp & woof, roles, responsibilities & routines of working life. ‘Pasta fuelled parish pastor on the piste’, I was so grateful for the ability to scream down slopes & slalom through snow-fields & awesome scenery in the company of loved ones. There were a few hairy moments like when I wiped out in a white-out, tumbling 8 feet over a snow-ledge. Fortunately, fresh snow afforded a soft landing & I retrieved my
skis 20 feet behind & 20 feet in front of me. Throughout the week was a constant flow of ‘Thanks!’ to God for such a privileged holiday, which returns me to Fullarton refreshed, renewed & raring to go.
Skiing itself is a exhilarating assault on the senses, but two other incidents caught me by surprise with some heavenly scents invading earth. Coming off the slopes one day, incense from a nearby church building reached my nostrils, reminding me of our prayers, which reach heaven & contribute to the realisation of God’s will & revelation of God’s glory (Revelation 8:4). Stopped in ski-boot tracks I was transported by such smells, wafted to my nostrils from within sanctuary walls, expressions of a worshipping community. It reminded me of God’s imminent & constant loving presence, in Irvine, Italy or wherever we are and our responsibility to help others experience, explore & express Christ’s sweet-smelling fragrance of faith, hope & love.
“…Through us (Christians), God brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognised by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life…”(2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
Second smelly moment came on the mini-bus transfer trek to Milan’s Bergamo Airport. 6am we rolled into a dark, street lit town for a comfort break at a bakery café. Clearly the owner & bakers had worked hard in the wee small hours to produce this wonderful whiff & vista of beautiful baking. The décor was very retro (60’s or 70’s style?), big award-winning cups stood tall, and black & white photos of famous people visiting the café lined the walls. We were spoilt for choice as to which delicate morcels to best complement our coffees. I found myself praising God for this faithful baker busying to be ready to serve regular Saturday morning customers, open & hospitable to a few early birds on their way out of Italy –“Graze Mille!”(Thanks very much) he shouted after us as we pressed on for our flight home.
Thank You All-Knowing, All-Seeing, Ever Present, Great & Gracious God, for sensual scents & smells with which to worship & praise You and for noses through which to sense your loving presence & purpose to ‘glorify You and enjoy You forever’, Amen!