Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ah another scent: once again there is no water so my bath this morning was a tissue dipped in a cup of drinking water.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are a sweet fragrance of Christ unto God. 2 Corinthians 2:14,15

And with fear and trembling stand;
Set your minds on things eternal,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descended,
Come our homage to command.

I am surrounded by a community whose minds are set with clarity and strength, no crashing waves of doubt or divided purpose. Fragrance bearers. A grace and gentleness permeates the very air I breathe.

Wissam the master teacher walked through a beautifully crafted lesson demonstrating academic language support yesterday. He opened by spritzing air freshener into the classroom with the words osmosis, molecule, high concentration, low concentration and equilibrium written on the board.

Now actually this particular version of sweetly scent Axe Active tends to trigger my gag reflex although it does bring back distinct and oddly fond memories of last year’s eighth graders bathing themselves in deodorant after the lunchtime basketball game. Last year’s eighth graders? Ha! Generations of eighth grade boys. One year I outlawed its use, although it is difficult to discern which is worse: with or without.

But I digress.

The point is movement. The objective. And by the time Wissam had finished his nineteen-minute lesson on osmosis, there was no doubt in any of our minds, none of us would ever forget the word.

Scents abound here in Erbil.

The sweet lady who waters her sidewalk every morning to produce the dense steam that somehow still smells dusty,

The bakery where we purchase samoun, the diamond-shaped breads, where men lean into the flames again and again,

The deliciousness pouring downstairs as we plod upstairs after a long morning to a loving lunch served by the MCC staff.

The diesel spitting out of myriad generators clicking on and off at all hours of the day and night to supplement the national grid,

The enveloping embrace of Wale’s mother, kiss right cheek, left cheek, right cheek, left cheek every time.

And of course, the sifting swinging incense rising upward, the prayers of the faithful ascending to the One who descended, our homage to command.


Yesterday we spoke of the power of the modeling strategy. We spoke of lessons learned from our parents, from our friends, from the pounding media. We spoke of samples of power paragraphs and debate openings. And as I watch the lives of those around me quietly and determinedly set on the eternal, it is both humbling and profound.

May I never forget the Word.

Lord, our strength and purpose come from You. Direct our steps today, and turn us from the perishable things at which we grasp. Cast Your light upon us so that our lives may bear witness to the light (and fragrance) of Christ. Amen.