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The Whiff of Creation

The Whiff of Creation

by David G. Duggan
special to Virtueonline
December 26, 2019

The church I attend is curiously situated between some of Chicago's less opulent areas and its Gold Coast. So, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that as I entered at Christmas Day services I detected the unmistakable whiff of body fluids. Had my mid-winter aversion to a daily shower to spare by bone-dry skin finally caught up with me?

Off to the side sat a man who frequents the early Sunday services, seeking the warmth and comfort sheltered from a Chicago winter more than any spiritual sustenance. Plainly not in his right mind, he needs medical attention for ulcerated legs which I have suggested he seek at a nearby hospital.

And while the censer later swung helped mask the odor, I wondered whether the fragrance also shielded our eyes from his hurts.

Christ's incarnation in a stable bore none of the trappings of incense or poinsettias, fir boughs or candles. Luke's gospel twice recounts Jesus' placement in a manger, an animal feeding trough, "because there was no room for them at the inn." Luke 2:7,16. Dark, dank and redolent of wet straw and worse, stables are to the animals over which God conferred man's dominion what the Incarnate Word is to us: protection, refuge and companionship.

Neurologists tell us that the brain's scent sensors are right next to those which activate our emotions, particularly love. Perhaps it is fitting that Christ was born in a stable so that when we smell the fluids of our existence we not forget that God loved us so much that His first breath drew those scents in.


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