Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15, The Message Bible


Rev. Michael Woods

Did you know that smell is called the mute sense, the one without words? Smells leave us tongue-tied as it is almost impossible to describe how something smells to someone who has not smelled it. For example — what words work to convey the smell of a baby’s head or a lilac in the spring?

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I am pondering this mystery this morning because I did the math underlying a family ritual. Give or take a flower or two, my dad has purchased 626 roses for my mom. You see, they were married on July 11, 1959. Every month on the 11th, a rose would show up in their home for 59 years and two months.

But there will be no rose this week on the 11th. Last week, as Dad held Mom’s hand, she passed through death into God’s eternal care. Instead, this week her cremains are nestled among a bouquet of 59 roses.

My brother and sister and I will find comfort by the presence of the flowers as we gather today with friends and neighbors and family to say goodbye to a woman who was warm and generous, and possessed a playful sense of humor. But as we search for the words to describe our intensely private and reserved mother to someone who has not experienced her we find ourselves somewhat tongue-tied.

Maybe we can just point to the roses — not because they are showy but because of their aroma. The experts say perfumes are liquid memory. At the funeral everyone will see the massive bouquet flowers but for my brother and sister and me, sitting next our dad in the front row, our eyes will be blurred with tears, but we will be breathing deep the scent that is as sweet and indescribable as our mom.

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Rev. Mike Woods is the lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in La Crescent. He wrote this on Wednesday, the day of his mother’s memorial service.


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