Noticings – December 6, 2023

“It feels like a blessing, because it is.”

It wasn’t very auspicious or glamourous, but it did feel like a small miracle at the time. I got Covid for the second time near the end of October (lucky me). Immediately on its heels I contracted some kind of sinus and chest infection, I think, and I was congested and coughing for almost 6 weeks. Not fun. Along the way I realized that my nose wasn’t just congested, but I also couldn’t smell anything. Even strong scents were not able to penetrate the congestion – or so I thought. Then, as my sinuses began to slowly (glacially) improve, sadly my sense of smell did not return. I learned that one of the typical effects of ‘long Covid’ is a persistent loss of taste or smell. Luckily, I never lost my taster, but my sniffer was completely out of order – until last Sunday!

I wish I could tell a more delicate or impressive story, but the reality is that as I dried off after my morning shower before church on Sunday, I reached for my deodorant, undid the top, and as it approached its goal I suddenly realized that I could smell it! (The deodorant, not the goal!) Hallelujah! I smelled it again and again, breathing ever more deeply the glorious aroma. Well, it felt glorious after not smelling anything for so long. Then I went around smelling everything I could, just to make sure my sniffer really was on the mend. It was. Even the stuff that smelled bad smelled great!

I count myself extremely fortunate and privileged that I’ve never had to contend with a chronic illness, or deal with a profound health challenge. I suspect losing one’s sense of smell for a season doesn’t come close to the challenges many others face, but in that moment when I regained my sense I felt elated at my ‘healing’. And, for now, I am hyper-aware of the wonderful blessing it is to be able to do something so seemingly basic, and I am revelling in all the scents and aromas I encounter. I don’t want to make deep healing sound trite – but in my own way it feels like I’ve been born anew. The whole world looks (and smells) better than it did before.

My ordeal also reminds me that too often I slide through life oblivious to the miraculous wonders that surround me. If my morning coffee is a wondrous delight to me now that I’ve got my sniffer back, why wasn’t it equally wondrously delightful before I lost it? The truth is that it was. The difference is that I didn’t notice.

There’s a reason this weekly blog is called ‘Noticings’. It’s a reminder that wondrous beauty and delight surrounds us always – if we’d only take the time, make the space, and open ourselves to sense and savour it all – to notice. It’s easy to notice things after you regain something precious that was lost. It feels like a blessing, because it is. But what about all the other times I didn’t notice? Blessings lost, I guess. I don’t know if the philosopher/poet who came up with the old line, “Take time to smell the roses” ever had a version of long Covid – but I do know that they were very, very wise. You are surrounded by and immersed in beauty, splendour, wonder, and love. Always. As Advent progresses and Christmas approaches, take time to notice. You’ll be blessed as you do.