Spring is back in Glenside, no matter what the calendar says. I smelled it in the air on my walk this morning, and discovered again that the olfactory is the direct doorway to the past and to all the best parts of childhood. Smell cannot do what eyes can do, granted, nor ears, nor touch. But in what it does in summoning a bygone time, it has no equal.
I was transported to an April afternoon when my cousin Linda and I, walking from school, decided on impulse not to go straight home but to take a detour to the old unpaved road on our grandfather’s property that led from the chicken coop into the woods and to the fresh water spring. On the first leg of the road was a long, steep incline, and empty metal barrels abandoned by the wayside that were large enough for a third grade girl to lie in comfortably, having tossed her schoolbag to the side, while her friend gave a helpful shove for a bumpy ride to the bottom of the hill.
We knew how to live in the present then. For that hour or two between the 3 o’clock bell and the call to supper, nothing existed for us but the barrels and chicken coop and the pond and the hill and the man-made wall trundling along it. Homework and chores and what happened at school and what happened in the past and what may be in the future and even our own mothers all fled away.
Somewhere along the line in the subsequent years, I lost the talent for living in the present. My husband, who never lost that talent, noticed, and I believe he will help me to get it back, just by my being alongside him. For I think Jesus never forgot how to be in the present. Sitting on the well in Samaria, weary from the day’s journey, He was not thinking of the night’s sleep ahead or of how hungry he was. He was thinking of the woman standing right next to him, letting down her pitcher for water. And during those late afternoon moments that the two shared together, she was the only one in the world on His mind.