Life has its twists and turns. It has its moments of rest and moments of work. It records its yesterdays while promising its tomorrows. Life is the composite of the moments we live. Who would not wish to relive a precious season knowing that there were components of those special times that we missed and nuances of those memorable events that we failed to appreciate? Imagine how fun it would be if we could willfully jump back in time to relive a moment here or a moment there. But life only moves in one direction – forward.
Life and time, being designed the way they are, beckons us to fully live in our present. Probably most of us grew up hearing the well-known aphorism, “take time to stop and smell the roses.” That saying is not instructing us to literally pause a moment but rather advising us to focus our attention in the moment in order that we might fully partake of the treasures that are before us.
I have been taking that advise over this past week of the Thanksgiving holiday. My daughter, her husband, and their children came from Florida to spend a week at my house. The five children, who range in ages from 13 to 22, have full and busy lives that I seldom share because of the thousand miles between Collinsville and Sarasota. This week was the container for my moments. These moments were the container for me to share their lives. These shared lives would be the container for my future precious memories.
I decided to fill the week with many little “roses.” For example, each night I turned down the beds and put small candies upon the pillows. There is nothing like the scent and taste of chocolate to draw attention into a freeze-frame moment. We also shared special Illinois treats that are not available where the kids live: thin crust pizza, toasted ravioli, and hometown-bakery sheet cake, to name a few. Taste buds arrested by a familiar but distant flavor is a great way to seize awareness of the present moment.
Nana’s kitchen was the primary gathering spot for conversations and special culinary treats. Cooked-to-order breakfast and fresh-brewed coffee filled each morning with the fragrance of special love and attention. Thanksgiving dinner recalled into our present the awareness of yesterday’s memories. The decorated Thanksgiving table was a feast for the eyes as it beckoned us to stop, look, see, and delight in the beauty. Thanksgiving mealtime prayer was an opportune time of deliberately focus upon God’s goodness that is always present in the many moments of our days.
I was especially cognizance of the unplanned minutes. I whiffed the fragrance of love when cousins and siblings initially reunited and then later exchanged farewells. I smelled the scent of joy when spontaneous laughter erupted. The sounds of the little grandchildren squealing and the explosions of the teens as they giggled were just like a sweet perfume. The aroma of family wafted throughout the house. Love has its fragrance. Relationships are a bouquet of unique scents. I spent my whole week stopping, smelling, and breathing deeply so as not to miss one moment.
The week has passed. The holiday has ended. My daughter and her family have returned home. Fleeting moments remain only as reflective thoughts. Yet – somehow – the fragrance continues. Perhaps the fact that I deliberately soaked myself in the perfume of “roses” will allow the residue of the fragrance to abide through all the days, weeks, and months until our next family holiday. In between our reunions, however, I’m sure that daily living will afford me many other wonderful opportunities to stop, smell, and enjoy life’s moments.