This summer, the Clergy of St. Martin’s have selected some of their favorite Daily Words to share again. We hope you enjoy this “best of” series.
Today’s Daily Word was originally sent out on Oct. 12, 2021.
Prayers in the Nostrils of God
“I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense.”
Psalm 141:1-2a
Have you ever walked down the street and encountered a familiar aroma in a totally new place? Maybe it was the smell of barbecue or freshly cut grass. For me, the most powerful smell that has only happened a few times in my adult life is a strange mix of cow manure and fast food that takes me right back to the summer camps of my teenage years where I first met with God.
I discovered this week just how it is that aromas can evoke such powerful memories and emotions. Scents bypass the thalamus and go straight to the brain's smell center, known as the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, which might explain why scents can immediately trigger our memories.
Smell is also one of the most rudimentary senses and it affects how single-celled organisms interact with the chemicals around them. It has the longest evolutionary history. This might explain why we have at least 1,000 different types of smell receptors, but only four types of light sensors and touch receptors.
I like to imagine that we are made in the image of God and, as such, He too has a powerful nose. In this passage, our prayers are described as incense to God. I love to think that as they approach the throne of God, they bypass His rational thinking and go straight to his Heart – powerful, unseen and deeply evocative.
Today, may we offer prayers of thankfulness, honest prayers of our hearts’ desires, of our sorrows and repentances, knowing that, like incense, God has breathed them in and that He has heard our call.
The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Associate for Family and Student Ministries
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