Sabbath Sweet Fragrance

Lately, I have rediscovered my nose and realised again the delight of walking as the fragrances waft by me.  Simply coming from my house to the Abbey this morning (of course, nature’s scents are always stronger in the morning or evening) I smelt first mown grass, then a fir tree / evergreen dark smell; then something cool and minty and then the wonderful warm sweet smell of Honeysuckle flowing abundantly by the pond.  Going on, I am now entranced, lifting my nose in much the same way as my dog does, to see what is in the wind.

I say I have “rediscovered” my nose because I cannot remember being so aware of smell in London.  I did not find the smells there unpleasant. Odd as it may seem, I like the scent of a dusty street on a hot day in London and I don’t mind, if it is not overwhelming, the smell of traffic.  Even in London I would have been stopped for Honeysuckle.  But just as one reason for the sparrows deserting London is because their mating call cannot be heard above the noise of the traffic, it is now so loud, so one reason I could not enjoy the scents that blossomed in the gardens there so much was because other smells were over-powering.

The human mind, body and emotions are a sensitive instrument; the senses, a most wonderful gift from God given for our joy and our pleasure.  But too often we are overwhelmed by one or two things which are so demanding of our attention in one way that we are ‘blinded’, ‘deafened’ or ‘numbed’ in ourselves as to the riches on offer.  This is true in all areas of our lives.  We get into habits of thinking and behaviour that demand so much of us that we begin not to see anymore what is important.  Worse still, we cease to feel what is important.  We cease to care.  To find ourselves again we have to stop and smell the flowers, as the saying goes.

This is the importance of the idea of Sabbath.  “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” said Jesus.  Stopping, getting in touch with ourselves; our minds, bodies, spirits, hearts – this wonderful experience of being human, is what Sabbath is all about.  The interesting thing about the “Sabbath” is that it is a commandment of God that we should all have a day off, a real day off, and yet it is the one thing that most of us feel we don’t need and those who make law certainly don’t think we need.  I have to tell clergy sometimes (and myself, for that matter) that keeping a Sabbath is one of God’s commandments.

Of course, human beings with their oft repeated ability to take a gift of God and make it into a burden for people, have in the past made the idea of the Sabbath rather unattractive and many people today will say that they do not like Sunday because “there is nothing to do,” meaning nothing to entertain themselves with.  There is everything; go, smell the flowers.  Rediscover the lost sight, the acute hearing, the sense of emotion.  Rediscover the sensitive instrument you are and enjoy it.  God gives this wonderful world for us to enjoy.  It is the inheritance of Everyman (and woman.)