At left is a picture of hyssop, a beautiful little blue plant with aromatic qualities and used in eau de Cologne and the liquor Chartreuse. I don’t have any eau de Cologne and haven’t had the pleasure of a Chartreuse, yet to the Jewish soul the smell of hyssop would have brought to mind the experience of the priest in the temple offering a ceremony of cleansing prayer.
At Christmastime our family was reading the story of the three wisemen and my 6 year old asked, “What is myrrh?” I ordered some myrrh incense by internet and as soon as I lit the first stick I was taken back into the experience of Orthodox worship I had in Russia. Smell can take us so quickly to the core of our experience.
What a wonderful lenten soul cleansing this Psalm is. I love to pray this back to the Lord. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones you have crushed (my damaged emotions) rejoice. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
This week’s first reading about the New Covenant spoke of God’s law being written onto our very minds and hearts. Let the sin that would confuse, distract, and mislead us be removed today by the aroma of confession and repentance.