The Scent of God’s Love: Surely it Smells Like Listerine
I snuggle my eight-year-old self under the quilt, reveling in the decadent space of a queen-sized bed.
I rub my cheek against the feather-soft pillowcase and breathe deeply.
An intensely comforting aroma fills my nostrils as Listerine and Bengay forever intermingle with the memory of sleep-overs with my Grandmother.
She climbs into bed beside me.
We giggle as the bed squeaks in protest of its additional occupant. We giggle even louder when my Granddaddy calls out with feigned indignation from his adjoining room, “You girls settle down in there!”
The baritone chuckle a few seconds later gives him away. My grandmother winks at me before reaching over to switch off the light.
Turning toward me in the shadow-filled room she asks, “Did you have a good time tonight, Sugar?”
“I did,” I whisper, staring into the darkness, longing for the light.
“I sure do love having you here,” she tells me, her voice soothing—beckoning me to look toward her and not the elongated shadows on the wall. “Sugar, you make every day feel like sunshine.”
The shadows suddenly retreat.
“You ready to say prayers?” she asks.
I love to hear Grandmother talk to God. I snuggle a little closer as she begins.
I know from experience this is going to take awhile. But I don’t mind.
I smile with anticipation—for I know after just a little while I will hear my name.
She always begins by thanking God for who He is. She calls Him Savior and Father and Lord. She thanks Him for her family and the good things He’s given her. She even thanks Him for the hard things.
She says the hard things draw her closer to Him. I wrinkle my nose, hoping God doesn’t get any ideas of giving me hard things!
I quickly remind Him that I feel pretty close to Him already.
She then begins the roll call of family prayer. My Granddaddy is always first followed by her children in their birth order, then each member of her children’s families—in their birth order. My daddy is the second to the youngest, so I have a bit of a wait until my name is brought before God.
My eyes grow heavy as she prays for my cousins.
I am sleepy, yet comforted by the fact my grandmother possess a superpower making her able to know exactly what each person in our family is struggling with and how to pray for each one.
I am just about to surrender to sleep when I hear my name on her lips. My eyelids fly open. I lean into her.
I don’t want to miss a word.
She thanks God for making me her sunshine, and for our sleepover. She asks Him to always keep me close to Him.
I feel her hand reach for mine under the covers.
Her voice becomes serious, almost pleading, as she asks God to always remind me who I am—of who I am to Him.
I squirm a little as she prays for my future husband—as she asks God to grow him into a strong godly man.
I hold my baby doll in one hand and my Grandmother’s hand in the other as she prays for the children I will one day have. I listen to her ask God to draw their hearts to Jesus at a young age so they will always know and love Him.
She finishes by praying for at least a dozen friends, for her church family, and for the courage to tell more people about Jesus.
She concludes with an “amen,” kisses my head and whispers, “I love you Sugar.”
“I love you too,” I whisper back, turning over to the cool side of the pillow.
My eight year old heart is full.
Peace floods my soul.
And just before I drift off to sleep, I mouth goodnight to God.
The God who, I am still convinced, calls people Sugar and smells a lot like Listerine and Bengay.
“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Ps 141:2