Monday, September 21, 2015

the ties that bind.

I caught a whiff of something familiar today. 
It stopped me in my tracks, and I almost tripped the poor guy walking to class behind me. 
But I couldn't help it.
It was just a sweet subtle whisper on the breeze, but it halted every train of thought racing through my head. 
It was a smell I hadn't smelled in a long time...
and it instantly brought tears to my eyes. 

It was the smell of Japan. 

There are trees that bloom in Iwakuni starting in September that stay for most of the autumn and even into the winter for a bit. 
They are small flowers - just small yellow ones. 
But they carry so much with them. 
Because when summer turns to go, and autumn begins to show it's golden head, it's them I smell first on the breeze. It's the first smell - apart from the salt air - that I noticed about Japan. The coming of that smell represented so much...not simply the coming of fall. 
It represented cool nights by the bon-fire and breezy days on the beach. It signaled the beginning of udon season and heralded the momijis' changing color.  
It's something I can't really put into words. 

My memories wreak of that smell

And so today, when I smelled that it again, I was stopped in my tracks.
Here I was - in a very different place - with the very same smell. 

I probably looked like a crazy woman looking through the bushes trying to find those white clusters.
But I had to.
It was almost visceral...instinctual. 
I had to grasp them and make sure they were real. 

Because God has been teaching me something lately - something of His promises
Of his faithfulness. 

And like Noah's rainbow - a promise of hope in the midst of it all - He has been providing me with constants. 
He's been revealing to me the ties that bind - things that remind me of his unwavering provision in the midst of my wavering circumstances. 

One day, it was a sunset trip to the beach with my family, and one day it was windows rolled down with good music. Some days it's morning bike rides or my favorite of Chopin's Nocturnes playing softly in the dining hall. It's the persimmon tree that Madre found in our backyard, and my sweatshirt that still smells like one of the last bonfires we had. 
It's mornings with Him and with coffee in my favorite mug. 
It's little jokes that slip from my very formal Sensei during Japanese class, and the banter of Japanese conversation before class. 
God knew I would need these things. And he provides them in even the smallest of details. 

It may not be lotus fields, or mountain tops. 
The sushi is definitely different and I miss the salt air.
Sometimes I miss it all so much, my chest feels like it's going to implode. 
But this I know - my God is constant and good.
And I'm determined to be contented. 

So, this morning, when I smelled those flowers, it was another beautiful reminder. 
 He knew it was just what I needed. 

And as I walked to class...a fistful of flowers pressed to my nose...I had tears in my eyes - not because I was mourning something. But because I was genuinely thankful....

genuinely thankful for all this learning,

for all this change,

and for this new season. 

"God's way is  p e r f e c t. 
All the Lord's promises prove true
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection. 
 He arms me with strength
and he makes my way perfect. 
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand upon the mountain heights. 
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied..."

---- psalm 18:30-33----

I'm sorry it's been so long, my friends.
I'll try to be better about that :)


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