Because the idea of having a spiritual “sense of smell” is so hard for me to grasp, I’ve been bouncing it off others.
After one of my recent retreats, a lady quietly related to me the following story:
“Several years ago, I was sitting at the death bed of my godly aunt, whom we all respected dearly. At the age of 97, she had lived a full life and was awaiting her final days at home.
“I took the evening shifts and for a week or so had been sleeping on a makeshift bed inside her room.
“One particular night, somewhere around two in the morning, I was suddenly awakened by the most amazing smell. I opened my eyes to see where it was coming from and noticed two radiant figures near my aunt’s bed.
“As I sat up to make sense of it all, I felt a distinct touch across my chest, keeping me seated. Although I didn’t hear a audible voice, a prompting within me said, ‘This is not about you. You get to watch from the sidelines, but not participate.’
“I had heard about death bed visitations before, and felt that if anyone would have one it would be my aunt. Yet, the thing that was most astounding to me was the fragrance that filled the room.
“Unlike anything that I can describe, it lingered as long as the figures remained there in the room. I was enveloped within the aroma and continued to take deep breaths to fully experience the scent.
“My aunt seemed to converse with the figures for a while and then both they, the light, and the fragrance disappeared. I checked on my aunt, and she lay sleeping quietly, breathing shallowly just as she had so many days prior.
“The next morning, I asked my aunt about the two figures I had seen. ‘Who were you talking to last night, Auntie?’ I queried.
“‘They had come to take me with them,’ she replied matter-of-factly. ‘But I told them that my family wasn’t quite ready – that you all still needed me.’
“That day, family members made sure that they all said their good-bye’s to this dear saint.
“She passed quietly the following day.
“‘I asked Auntie’s nurse about the incident when I saw her next. She mentioned that those working with hospice patients sometimes experience a divine smell near the death experience.”
Thinking over this story over the last few weeks, I told it to my mother-in-law’s hospice nurse a few weeks ago. She replied thus:
“I have worked hospice now for almost twenty years and have never personally experienced the heavenly scent. But, one of my colleagues has.
“She said that on one of her rounds, she began to smell something similar to home-baked bread wafting down the hall. Because we have kitchenettes for the families, she expected to find someone baking within one of them. Yet, as she followed her nose, it was obvious that the scent was not coming from any of our ovens.
“Continuing her search, the smell led her into one of our patient’s rooms, who was obviously in her last moments. As my friend stood there, enjoying the best fresh-baked smell she had ever experienced, the frail little woman breathed her last. ‘That must be what heavenly manna smells like,’ my colleague confided.”
What about you? Do you have any experience with the Divine Fragrance?