Thursday, June 11, 2015
I have to rush to the keyboard before if fades away. Type furiously before the last traces drift off into the ether and travel to a new place, settle in another home. Only a hint remains still clinging to the fibers of a dirty shirt, a few strands of hair. The scent of birth has flooded my world as it has flooded all others, but the tide will inevitably go out again. There is a smell to birth, not the new baby smell of Hallmark cards and nostalgic parents’ tears, but something more visceral, more complicated, more profound. The first time each of our virgin lungs sucked in the air with all the sweet and poison scents it is laced with, we smelled it. At the birth of our children it once again fills our lungs. It is the first incense filling the temple. The scent of birth carries to the divine throne room visceral prayers of hope and a dirge for pain yet unfelt; beautiful and terrible all at once. The smell of new birth is pain. A mother’s sweat and labor, a father’s worry, an infant’s fear. It is pain yet unfelt, failure and loss, heartaches and illness, eventually death. Inevitable. It is joy unbound, all things new, pure potential. An olfactory unending, perfectly recognizable and infinitely strange. It is the aroma of a full manger and an empty tomb; different from all other scents and yet containing the cosmos. In the scent of life, pain, and hurt, love and joy twist together rising into the atmosphere. It is all things, but different from each. On final examination it is, perhaps the only unequivocally good thing in the world. I may never smell the scent of birth again, and if I don’t, well I have had enough, and that is fine. Thank you God, and love, that I smelled it today.