Historically speaking, perfume has been important to women and society since Biblical times. All throughout the centuries, perfume was used to anoint bodies before burials, it was used to signify wealth and even used to enhance your health by reducing stress. Our ancestors were known for taking simple spices, wood and flowers to create scents that would cover a multitude of hygiene issues and ailments.
My precious mother was an energetic believer in the fragrance industry. She definitely did not use it to signify wealth or status. She was more of a drug store connoisseur of fine perfumes…or some would say “eau de parfum”. She was known to use her budget wisely and never wastefully but she was always well perfumed.
I remember fondly saving enough money to purchase her favorite bottle of “perfume” for Mother’s Day one year. “White Shoulders.” It was her signature scent and it was a fool-proof gift if you were short on new ideas. The older my siblings and I got we were able to gift her with better perfumes. She was a “White Diamonds” and “Beautiful” wearer for a while but she would always revert back to her tried and true… “White Shoulders”.
Perfume had always played a leading role in her life.
One of her favorite stories to tell was when she was a little girl, her aunt was gifted a bottle of Channel No 5. Not knowing that this perfume cost more than she did, she routinely helped herself to it, until she was caught with bottle in hand.
Upon her passing, I had the job of helping my father clean out her belongings. When someone passes away it is nearly impossible to keep every single thing they owned. It was truly hard to decide what was to be thrown away, what was donated and what we wanted to keep. Once we had cleaned out all of her closet space and the attic it was time to review the inventory of her bathroom cabinets. When I opened the door, I immediately saw a square glass perfume bottle with a gold lid. I knew exactly what this was.
White Shoulders. I grabbed it quickly and held it tightly as if it were going to disappear. I lost the lid to see if it still held its scent. One sniff of this floral aroma brought back a multitude of childhood hugs and memories in an instant.
In April of every year since 2011, I plunder to the back of my own bathroom cabinet to dig out my drug store treasure, which is my mother’s every last bottle of White Shoulders. It was pretty full when she passed away eleven years ago….and even with me dabbing a bit on every April in her memory, the bottle is still full. I am not sure if the Lord is providing and replenishing the perfume but it is not running dry.
When I think about my mother and her love of perfume, I cannot help but think about Mary who poured her perfume from an alabaster jar to anoint Jesus. The pharisees thought she was wasting it, even Jesus’s disciples said she could have sold it and gave the money to the poor. But she sacrificed all that she had in the most intimate and worshipful way. She wiped his feet with her long and flowing hair while she was being judged by others and called a sinner.
In John 12:7-8 Jesus defends Mary by saying, “Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
Mary’s gift wasn’t just a drug-store version of perfume. It was the perfume meant for Jesus’ burial. A burial that would be a cornerstone to our Christian faith that paved the way for a resurrection……I sincerely hope the aroma of a beautiful Palm Sunday blesses your family.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15