Summer arrived finally and we set off for our vacation at Lake Pymatuning. My job was to plant the flowers and find twigs for kindling. It was perfect weather and after swimming I settled down in the shade to read my book.
One cool morning while lounging high in an old oak tree, a glorious scent filled the air. I’d been eating hotdogs and hamburgers all week and this did not smell like either. Lifting my button nose in the air, I breathed it in and felt my stomach grumble.
“WHAT is that smell?”
Cramming the book I was reading firmly in a nook where two branches met, I climbed higher to see where this unbelievable scent was coming from and saw a group of brown skinned people working around a bed of coals.
Pushing leaves out of the way, I focused on a woman with skin the shade of milky chocolate, her dark hair shimmering red in the morning sun. She worked feverishly next to a very tall man, who was to my surprise the color of chocolate chips, my favorite thing!
They fascinated me, not only because of their color, but because everyone was busy at something and their laughter made me smile.
I spied on them until my backside started to hurt from the bark of the tree biting through my thin cotton shorts. Climbing down carefully and swinging like a monkey from branch to branch, I found my feet safely on the ground.
“What IS that smell?”
I kept an eye on them for the rest of the day, all the while, hoping the young girl there would want to be my friend. Truthfully, I didn’t have any friends at all, so I was lonely and this emptiness was eased only while lost in the pages of a novel. Lifting my head to take another great whiff of the glorious scent from their barbeque, I found myself at the end of their stony driveway.
Genuine smiles greeted me. To my surprise, the mother was covered from head to toe with freckles. She introduced herself as Mary, and when she smiled her eyes sparkled and I thought she was beautiful.
Handing me an ear of corn, she taught me how to pull back the husks to reveal the sweet corn beneath. I know I’d done this before, but she spoke of a wondrous God who provided a bountiful harvest. I was intrigued.
I had a slight frame and looked younger than my age. Mary thought I was about seven, but in fact, I was eleven and a half! I was a pale strange looking child with flyaway frizzy blonde hair and she reached out and touched it.
She informed me that white folks weren’t good at fixing hair like mine, and she sat and braided it from the crown of my head to the ends in two solid plaits. I loved it and minus the red hair, I thought I must look like my favorite protagonist, Anne Shirley.
Finally, I was invited to eat dinner with our neighbors. I was certain this would be the best meal of my life. It was!
The London’s cookout began with a light and savory breeze, giving me an appetite I’d never had before. Soon, they were all praying to a God I did not know, to a Jesus who loved me and welcomed me to His table. They actually thanked God for me?
I helped clean up and stayed with them while they sang around the campfire praising God with songs so mournful that they stirred something deep in my soul. I felt like I’d come home. To outsiders, I must have appeared like a single kernel of corn in a bowl full of blueberries, but for the first time in my life, that constant ache in my heart was satisfied.
It was five years later when I asked Jesus into my heart. Mary and Chris London impacted my entire life by loving a sad lonely girl.
Both of these beautiful saints have gone to be with the Lord, but I know I will see them when it is my time to follow them home. Through their Love I met Jesus that balmy summer day. I met a Lord who satisfied my earthly appetite, while tantalizing me with a glimpse of heaven.
Now I realize, that SMELL was the fragrance of God’s love guiding me home.
(My true story)
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