I waited a long time in the Wal-Mart check-out line, listening to the couple in front of me argue heatedly with each other about the expense of a guinea pig cage. Trying to look anywhere but at them, I saw all around me was Christmas. Huge inflatable yard ornaments. Wreath hangers. Christmas trees.
Right next to me was a display of little, plastic containers filled with cheap-looking greenery that was being touted as “the scent of Christmas.” Put this in your table centerpiece, it said, and smell the season. Eeeuw.
Let’s talk about the smell of Christmas.
The day after Thanksgiving, Matt and I always jump in the truck and head to the woods outside of Kalispell. Driving slowly on dirt roads, we look for the perfect Christmas tree and argue about how tall the trees are. (My ability to make spatial judgments is impaired, but I still insist I’m right about these things.)
When we see what we think is the perfect tree, we pull off the road, hop out of the truck, tromp through the snow, and go check out the potential tree from all sides. The smells of the forest are always fresh and intoxicating. Here is the scent of Christmas –where the trees are green, with deep roots and fresh sap on the bark. This is a smell of living things that you cannot put into a plastic container and sell at Wal-Mart.
In finishing reading through Hosea, I came to the last chapter that talks about the blessing and healing that will come when Israel returns to the Lord –when she takes the words “I’m sorry” with her and comes back to her Helper.
The Lord says to his people:
I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me. (Hosea 14:8b NIV)
These words bring my mind to the forest, with the crunching snow underfoot and the smell of living trees making me feel alive.
Fruitful living is what I long for, to know at the end of every day that I have made a good difference in this dark world. So I meditate long on the fact that anything good coming out of me is because I’m connected to a green pine tree.
No fake “scents” in this household. I want real. Alive. Running sap. Pine needles on branches attached to a trunk that is rooted deep. I worship the God who is like a Cypress and remind myself that all good comes from him.
I encourage you to write down Hosea 14:8 today, imagining what it’s like to be a branch connected to a flourishing evergreen. This is where your fruitfulness begins.