The Scent of Sacred

IMG_3566There’s a scent to sacred. That sounds weird, but it’s true in so many ways. I don’t know how to describe it or tell you how to find it, but it’s there. It fills your nostrils and enters your heart and soul. The scent resides in the sacred place, making you want to take off your shoes because you felt like you were on holy ground or something like that. I’ve smelled the scent of sacred a couple of times.

And I encountered the scent of sacred this last week while I was on a spiritual retreat. I took a few days and went to a monastery for time of prayer and reflection. When I walked into the monastery, I could sense the scent right away, and it wasn’t the lunch they were serving (I got there late, I was supposed to be there around 11 am but got there at lunch). It was something else. I took time to explore and walk the grounds and the halls of the monastery. I walked into the chapel and was in awe. I could sense it all around me.

The lights were dim, the sunlight coming in through the stained-glass windows above. Unlit candles surrounded the sanctuary, the altar, the table for the Lord’s Supper was set center up front towards the front in front of a small gold crucifix. The sanctuary of the chapel itself was minimalistic and made of wood. It was rustic and respectful, natural and elegant at the same time.

I sat in the chapel for a while, inhaling, exhaling, breathing in the sacred scent around me. I sat in prayer, in meditation, in reflection on the sacredness and holiness of God.

It was hard not to sense the holiness and sacredness of God in this place. It permeated the very wood pillars holding up the roof. It resided in the stone floor beneath my feet. I sat in awe and wonder and respect. Though I know that God is ever present and approachable through Jesus, I felt that I was able to truly take time to enter into the presence of God at this moment.

This numinous experience gave me pause. It gave me a moment to reflect on the necessity of God’s provision and leading in my life. Seeing the crucifix, Jesus on cross, my suffering savior, made me reflect on the suffering he endured for me to be here in God’s presence. It allowed me to focus on the suffering Jesus went through. It allowed me to meditate on the words of God, on his calling in my life.

I inhaled the air around me. I slowly exhaled. Focusing on what was around me, what I was experiencing.

I think in today’s world, there are a number of times where we forget about the sacred and holy. To be holy and sacred is to be set apart, to be different, not the usual, not the normal. To be other. God is other. He is wholly other. He is different and deserves to be treated as such.

Yes, God is approachable through Jesus. In Jesus we can boldly approach the thrown of the almighty God, the maker of the universe. He who makes the grass to grow and our very hearts to beat. He who made the heavens, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and the galaxies around us calls us by name. And He is also holy.

There is something sacred, it can fill our lungs, our hearts, and our lives. We need to remember the sacred and the holy.

We are able to approach God as we are, warts and all. He calls us despite our selves and enters into our lives. In fact, those who belong to Jesus are filled with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, we ourselves are sacred unto God.

Take time to inhale the sacred. Take time to look for the scent of sacred, to inhale and let the holiness of God to dwell within you by His Holy Spirit. When we do, we are able to truly know what it means to stand in the presence of a holy God.

Inhale deeply.

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