The Scents of God (@ChirpyBirdy007)

In the second book of Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem by King David. It’s not an easy journey. A man dies from touching the Ark and afterwards David is so afraid of it that the Ark stays in someone’s house for three months. When they finally bring the Ark into the city David leaps and dances before it.

290px-Morgan-bible-fl-39The Ark was very special because people believed that it held the presence of God. Of course they also knew that God was everywhere, but nevertheless, the Ark mattered.

Some believe that the Ark is now in a church in Ethiopia. I don’t think that is taken very seriously by many humans. If it was, wouldn’t everybody be rushing to go and see it?

All humans have Arks. They’re places that are believed to have been made extra holy through repeated worship activity over many centuries. 

In the everyday physical world, I’m not sure what holiness is really. It’s a human word and I’m a chicken. We tend to assume that God is all over everything, so we don’t have this holiness concept. We prefer to speak of wisdom and kindness in creatures’ hearts.

I wonder if for humans holiness is a kind of warmth that comes off God’s presence. A bit like the way body heat comes off me.

Where is God in this photo? In the place or the smiles?

Where is God in this photo? In the place or the smiles?

Some humans also believe that holiness is attached to objects that were associated with humans who were very devoted to God. Yet, at the same time, they also believe that God is everywhere.

This idea that some physical places and objects have a special holiness is not logical but seems to be part of humankind’s animality. We birds and animals sense our friends’ activities through the scents they leave behind. You human beings can’t do that anymore, yet somehow you think that good activities leave a smell. You want to associate yourself with those activities by having a good sniff.

God does not have a smell. However, I have spent so much time with humans that even I sometimes think that holiness smells of candles and incense. This common human belief definitely comes from humankind’s animal nature. When a strong smell is persistently associated with worship activity, humans respond to it like Pavlov’s dogs.

But really, if wisdom and kindness in the human world does have a smell, it isn’t an otherworldly aroma. It smells of dirt, poverty, cleaning fluids, sweat, hard work and food. With the exception of some monastic types, the truly “holy” human is not set apart from the world, he or she is in the world working alongside those who need help. Helping people stinks (whether you are online or offline).

About RectorChick

A parish priest in the Hedgerow Church of England.