The Scent of God
This morning I stopped to watch a deer who was watching me as I made my way to the hilltop. The doe had such a keen interest in me.
“Who is this biped with the fur of blue and green?”
She wonders. Her ears perk up, she flicks her tail and sniffs the wind.
“This could be trouble,” she thinks. “Wait, where did it go?”
I stood perfectly still.
“I swear, something was right there beside the bush.”
As I freeze, barely breathing, the deer cocks her head, her neck pushes forward as she strains her eyes to see whatever it was that was moving a few seconds ago.
“Hmmm, that’s strange,” she thinks, “it’s gone. Still, I don’t like it, something smells fishy…”
She turns, takes a few steps, and lowers her head back down to the grass.
“Maybe I’ll go back to breakfast.”
As she turns, I begin to move again, A few quick steps. Snap! – My foot cracks a small twig; the noise is barely perceptible, but not to this elegant princess of the woods. The brown coated beauty with the whitetail whips around at the speed of lightning. I freeze again, mid-step. After a few more minutes of intense scrutiny, she concludes.
“Yeah, this game, whatever it is, isn’t working for me, I’m out.”
In seconds the distance between us quadruples. The doe’s movements are effortless and breathtakingly beautiful. I resume my long trudge to the top of the hill, happy to have made acquaintance with such a magnificent creature.
For many people, the experience ends here — A pleasurable but essentially meaningless interaction with nature. But for others, there is more in play. We are limited by time and space, and the material world is all we humans seem to grasp. Still, sometimes, thanks to creatures like the princess of the forest, the material world is so utterly fantastic that, for a second or two, we glimpse something more. Like the doe, we sniff something on the wind and our necks strain towards it. Is there something transcendent, something extraordinary and unnerving, something special that exists beyond us? We’ve caught the scent of something. What is it? The ancients of the Celtic Christian faith tell us it’s the smell of divine love. Could they be right? I sure hope so, whatever it is, I say, breathe it in and see where it takes you.
For more about Celtic Christian Spirituality, I heartily recommend The Book of Creation by J. Philip Newell.