Run no. 17 – Fragrant runners

chanel no5

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 41’ 12”

One thing that has rarely occurred to me to consider in my 40 year running career, is how I smell.

Perhaps if you meet someone after a run and before you hit the shower, it might momentarily cross my mind.

When I lived in France and the normal greeting when you met a female you knew, was a kiss on each cheek, I always desisted when I was all sweaty – and I saw the relief in their eyes, when I did this!

But I’m not sure even then I was troubled by how I smelt.

Out running today and a lady runner ran past me running in the other direction, and for the next few metres I was running in a drift of the most wonderful perfume. It was absolutely gorgeous. Now I’m no expert on such things – although I have managed to buy my wife new perfumes that she has liked – but I couldn’t say what the perfume was, or even identify it if I smelled it again. But in that moment; the wonderful and unexpected surprise of this delicious perfume was fantastic – a little unforeseen blessing in an ordinary day.

This started me thinking of the importance of smell and aroma in the spiritual life.

Of course the most obvious of these is the use of incense, both to create a sacred space, a space set apart for an encounter with God, a mark of setting things aside for God’s service; and also as a symbolic representation of our prayers which rise to God like the smoke of incense rises towards the heavens.

However, there is a deeper sense in which the spiritual life is all about aroma, about us becoming a divine aroma in the nostrils of those we meet;

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?[1]

It is interesting to see that the aroma of Christ which we transmit by sharing the story and the meaning of the life of Jesus Christ, and in loving service to the world, finds quite different receptions.

For some it is the aroma of death, for others the aroma of life. It will be rejected, or accepted, with massive consequences either way.

Which makes this task an awesome undertaking, that makes us feel inadequate and unprepared.

But this is our honour, our duty, and our calling; to be the fragrance of Christ in the world.

I rarely think about how I smell when running, I know I need to think a lot more seriously about how I transmit Christ’s fragrance to those around me.

God wants fragrant runners.

[1] 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV