2009-01-05 - Perfume in Pew Five
It's inevitable-no matter how strategic the decision to pick the best seat, there is usually someone too loud, tall, or stinky who directly sits in front of you. Our church service had just started, when a couple joined the row directly in front of me. My focus immediately shifted from singing, to a distinct odor now emanating from the pew in front.
It was hard to believe this woman, dressed in a tailored suit with matching and dangling jewelry, intentionally wanted to smell and be noticed for that scent. I could feel a sneeze coming on, followed by an intense headache. How could I avoid this hideous smell?
Here I was, seated in the middle of the pew, with fellow worshipers on either side and little wiggle room. I tried to inch further away. When that didn't help, I used my church bulletin as a fan, to circulate the aroma away from me, but it was no use: I was stuck.
When the singing was over, the pastor said a prayer, quoting Psalm 118:24: "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (NIV) My focus changed again-this time away from the lingering perfume and onto the word rejoice. I could focus on the unpleasantness that was filling my nostrils, or I could rejoice and be glad that I was able to attend church in good health, with a keen sense of smell.
I decided to think of my fellow worshiper wearing the powerful perfume in a different light. The perfume was of value to this woman. Surely, she wasn't trying to ruin my day. The scent remained in the air for the entire service, but I began to tolerate it, and with God's help, found reason to be grateful in an uncomfortable and fragrant situation.
The author welcomes comments or questions on this devotional article.