Oct 21 2009

The Smells of Nature

Yellowstone NP Giant GeyserIn my last blog I wrote about how my experience in nature goes well beyond the visual realm.  I noted how important sounds were as well.  To this I would also add smells.  Although all the scents of nature may not be pleasant, there are many which have added immensely to my enjoyment of nature.  I even buy candles with some of these scents to remind me of being outdoors or in special places. 

I love the smell of sagebrush and always look forward to catching a whiff of sage when I travel west.  I love a lot of the woody scents—balsam, cedar and pine.  Other favorite scents include honeysuckle, eucalyptus trees, the ocean, tilled earth, and any number of flowers.  Even though I don’t particularly like the sulfur smell one encounters in Yellowstone National Park, that scent also helps to make Yellowstone special to me. 

The sense of smell is important to us.  Interestingly enough, the Bible indicates that God has this sense as well.  Nearly forty times in the Old Testament reference is made to God smelling the pleasing odor of a burnt offering.  There were various aromas associated with the sacrifices used in the worship of God.  Aromatic incense was also used in worship.  Incense eventually came to be associated with prayer.  In Psalm 141:2 David asked “May my prayer be set before you like incense…” (see also Revelation 5:8)  In the Gospel of John there is a beautiful story of a woman who poured out “a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume” on Jesus feet.  This costly act was, likewise, an expression of worship. 

Sunday I wrote about how the sounds of nature join together in offering praise to God.  Would it be going too far to say that the smells of nature—both the good and the bad—are likewise a part of Creation’s worship of the Creator?  Personally, I don’t have a problem with that at all. 


 (The image above is of Giant Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.)