The Smell of Heaven

As our evening prayers end and we all seek one another's forgiveness for the day, I add an additional nugget of Cedar of Lebanon incense to the burning coal within our small hand censor. The censor had been doing its sweet smelling job throughout our time of prayer - filling our living room with a haze of mysterious olfactory beauty (which suprisingly never sets off our smoke detector, unlike our toaster) - and was now going to be used in the context of a family processional through the house.

It gets very hot and so I wrap a small cloth around the handle and lift it from our family altar. At least once a week we end our prayers in this manner and so the children know what is to follow and merrily tag along after me as I move from room to room making the sign of the cross with the sensor and asking God to bless our home. The older kids cross themselves as I invoke the Holy Trinity in the process. As we finish, we gather once again at the family Church Icon corner and replace the censor to finish burning the last of its incense. The kids each blow out a candle and then they are scurried off to bed.

As morning arrives on this particular day I wander out into the family room and the sweet perfume from the incense of the night before still lingers in the air. It calls me home and I am pulled toward the Icon corner for morning prayers. It reminds me of my first visit to an Orthodox Church in which upon returning to our house I noticed the smell of the incense had followed me there in my clothing...even at that time it reminded me of home. Later after completing my prayers I sat down to read and I hear the sound of Nicholas (our 22 month old) swishing his sock covered feet across the floors of the hallway.

As he enters the living room he stops and I can tell by his uplifted face that he is smelling the air in the room. Then he moves toward the icon corner, raises his hands, and begins to sing: "Ohhhhleeeee...Gaaaaa." He is singing the Trisagion Hymnn...the smell of Heaven had called him Home as well. I put my book down and joined him.


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