Friday, October 27, 2006

Perfume

Song of Solomon 1:3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
3a) Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out...

When I was about seven years old, my auntie May, uncle Tommy and their children Diane and Paul, came to spend a few days with us. They were from the North East of England and spoke with an accent I have loved ever since--the "Geordie" accent of the characters in Catherine Cookson novels. They weren't really my aunt and uncle--auntie May was one of Mum's two best friends. They'd met ten years before when Mum had come from Holland to work in England after the war when they were both just out of their teens. They are friends to this day.

My parents gave up their bedroom for auntie May and uncle Tommy to sleep in. I don't remember where they slept themselves. But I remember as though it were yesterday, the wonderfully feminine fragrance that filled Mum and Dad's bedroom while they were there. Auntie May was lovely; she loved beautiful clothes, wore make up, and she smelled so good. She called me "Pet," which I liked because it was English and not "Schattebout" which was what Mum called me, and which made me embarrassed when friends asked what a "Schattebout" was.

Mum was beautiful, but she only wore lipstick and perfume when she was going somewhere special. Being Dutch she was thrifty--and anyway, we had no money for such luxuries. The only perfumes I knew of her wearing all the years I was growing up were inexpensive: "Evening in Paris (Soir de Paris)," which came in a dark blue glass bottle with a silver, grooved and pointy lid, and "Californian Poppy,"a golden liquid, which came in a small, sharp shouldered, clear glass bottle with a picture of a poppy on the front. I remember the tiny rubber stoppers in the bottles--I think because I must have taken them out many times to smell or put on, Mum's "precious" perfume. I loved the smell of Mum's red lipstick too, which she carried in her handbag, with a handkerchief she used to dab her lips with after applying it. Her purse smelled of lipstick, powder and Polo mints.

The memory of the perfume in the bedroom stayed with me, like the haunting of a half remembered dream. I would often stop by the fragrance counters in stores and try to find "the perfume" but I never did. Then one year, when I was in England, and auntie May, now in her seventies, called to say hello, I told her of my memory and asked, "Do you remember what perfume you used to wear, all those years ago?"

"Yes, Pet," she said, "I still wear it," and she told me the name; Aromatics Elixer, by Clinique.

I went out that very day and bought some--for myself and for Mum, who deserved it after wearing all that "Evening in Paris" and "Californian Poppy." I have rarely set foot outside the house without wearing it since. I love it, and people comment on it all the time. I often hear some one coming down the stairs to the offices at work, saying, "Belinda's here. I can smell her perfume."

But there is a "signature scent" that is more lovely than the most costly perfume on earth; the fragrance of God's Presence in our lives. The Song of Solomon says that the bridegroom's name, was "like perfume poured out," and that the fragrance of his perfumes was pleasing. As we spend time in the chambers of the King, may his fragrance cling to us and draw people to him.

John 12:3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
3Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

1 comment:

Lily said...

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times"... even when it's hard!

We can't do that on our own, can we? The only way we can love like that (at all times) -- and be loved -- is to know that we can never be separated from the One who IS love... Like you said in a previous blog... he is God WITH us... God IN us, and God WITH us. And God IS love. So if we find it hard at the moment, we can give in to God and let him do it through us while our feelings take the time they need to catch up. What absolute comfort in that thought. 'Cause I could never do it on my own without Him!