Do you remember the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” One of the funny gags that ran throughout the film involved the family patriarch, Gus Portokalos, and a bottle of Windex. Every time someone had a cut, scrape or bruise, he squirted Windex as if it were a cure-all. At the end of the film, his daughter got married. On her wedding day, she discovered a pimple and used Windex to clear it up. Who knows? It just might work.
My mother did the same thing, except Windex wasn’t her go-to medicine. Instead, Mom preferred Vicks VapoRub. I can’t tell you how many times she whipped out that small blue glass bottle and slathered me with Vicks. If she thought there was even a remote chance I might catch a cold, she moved into proactive mode. She pulled out the Vicks VapoRub, plopped a glob of the petroleum-based jelly onto my little chest and began to rub. As she massaged the salve deep into my skin, the strong smell of eucalyptus permeated the room. After she was satisfied it had penetrated every level of my epidermis, she covered the treated area with a ceremonial washcloth so nothing would stain or stick to my pajamas.
As an extra precautionary measure, she put a dab of VapoRub inside each of my nostrils. And as if that wasn’t enough, she used a humidifier to shoot more VapoRub into the air. Night after night, I went to bed with a cloud of eucalyptus surrounding my head. No matter how hard you try, you can’t wash off that smell. Too often, I clambered aboard our little country school bus smelling like I’d bathed in Vicks. And to this day, I associate the smell of eucalyptus with my mother and her love for me.
Isn’t it funny how the senses can bring back memories of love? The taste of fresh, home-baked bread reminds me of my grandmother, and the sight of a battered picnic basket takes me back to our Moore family reunions. The rumble of thunder reminds me of my grandfather, who loved storms and taught me to appreciate the mighty God behind them.
Like many couples, my wife and I have a special song. It transports us to another place and time whenever we hear it. We all have stories of how one of the five senses takes us to a favorite memory.
I love the Bible story about the time Mary anointed Jesus’ feet: “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).
My favorite cologne is Tester, and I’m not sure what nard smells like. I do know that this wasn’t any old five-and-dime store purchase, but some of the most expensive perfume of the time, derived from the foothills of the Himalayas. Nard’s oils penetrate deeply into the skin, where the fragrance lasts for days. Her gift cost Mary approximately 11 months of salary. How much had she sacrificed, scrimped and saved to buy it?
We know this event had an impact on the disciples because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all recorded it. Matthew tells us, “When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked” (Matt. 26:8). Jesus reminded His followers He would only be there a short while longer. Mary’s unselfish act helped prepare His body for the day of burial.
Shortly after this, Jesus was taken to Golgotha. The only thing that went with Him all the way to the cross, through the grave and the resurrection was the lingering fragrance of Mary’s gift.
The Psalmist likens prayer to a sweet aroma. “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Psalm 141:2, NASB).
Today we place air fresheners of all shapes and sizes throughout our homes. Most of them use scents that carry emotional attachment, such as cinnamon or lavender. But did you know Heaven also uses air fresheners? The prayers of the saints permeate the place. Every time a prayer goes before the throne, the Father receives it as a sweet fragrance.
I have no expensive perfume to offer Jesus, but I do have a bended knee. Won’t you join me? The sweet aroma of your prayers will last longer than your memories and have a greater effect than even . . . Windex.
Today, I’m praying I get to see you at our first Baptist Messenger Family Reunion at 7 p.m., Friday., March 30 at Oklahoma City, Putnam City, 11401 N. Rockwell Ave. I promise to leave the Vicks at home.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827).