What is that smell?

A woman hugged me the other day. It was a sweet and supportive kind of hug. However, I’m fairly certain her perfume could have killed lice and mountain lions dead in their tracks. When I traveled to Mexico several decades ago I bought bug repellant that said it could take off paint and furniture polish. . When I was younger I had a piano teacher who loved to bathe in Emeraude, another perfume that hangs in thick vapors in a room. I’m pretty sure all three were was made by the same manufacturer.

As I went about my day the woman’s cloying aroma lingered with me. I even showered and changed clothing and she was still very present! While I didn’t find her scent pleasant it was a delicious reminder of a warm hug and inviting conversation from an acquaintance.

When we open our hearts and arms to others it is best if we accept them as they are even if it comes with faint unpleasant scents of oddity, brokenness, or extreme differences from ourselves, because this is how we all want to be loved. We want to be loved in spite of the things we find unpleasant about ourselves. What I remember about this brief encounter is that the scent did not repel me because her open arms welcomed me.

My prayer? May I be a friend that in spite of my quirks, anxieties, illnesses, and needs welcomes others with generosity and genuine love and acceptance like this lovely woman did for me. Because isn’t this what we all want?  Love in spite of our unloveliness.