Scent of the Sacred

Best smells for the soul:

fresh lavender. or basil. cut christmas tree. my favorite leather jacket. library books. my kids, just out of the bath. laundry. an old church fellowship hall. morning coffee. my husband’s t-shirt. just-blown-out birthday candles. honeysuckle in the kentucky springtime. rain in the desert, anytime. onions cooking in olive oil. bread baking. (baking anything). tobacco hanging in my grandparents’ barn.

I love to go for a walk about 30 minutes before dark. Partly because it’s cool; and partly because i make it up the mountain just at dusk. I can look west and watch the sun set behind the foothills. And i can look east down the hill, and watch the lights come on beneath a thousand stucco roofs, all tucked in for the night.

But mostly, I love that time of evening because the walk home smells like a sacred evening litany: laundry going; candles being lit; fires burning in back yard pits; and mostly, dinner cooking on a hundred different stoves.

Many of my neighbors are Indian and Korean and eastern European, so their cooking smells are wonderfully exotic. Others are cooking the most ordinary things–spaghetti, meatloaf, maybe just rice and vegetables. It is all miraculous; comforting and soul-stirring at the same time. Like going somewhere far off and exciting, while really just walking home.

I come into my house, under my own stucco roof; to the smell of my own laundry, my own just-lit candles, my own just-washed children and my own dinner simmering in the crock pot. And i think: if the whole day, the whole week, the whole of our lives smelled like the bedtime story, we would all be happy, centered, grateful people.

The goodness of the world…


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  • just lovely!

  • Laura Barkhauer

    I want to walk where you walk, Erin. Sounds lovely!