Second, I noticed in the chapel last night a faint and extremely pleasant scent. Probably pine needles, mixed with candles and incense that has just soaked into the wood. But the scent was very faint. As I prayed I noticed that I would sometimes “pick up” on this scent, but by the next breath it would be gone. So it is with the Holy Spirit. It is there. It is “soaked in” to the world all around me. Sometimes we get a breath of it, and it is pleasing and beautiful. But it isn’t up to us. It may be gone by the next breath. All we can do is keep breathing (praying) and know that it will indeed come back around again in its own way and time.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Jesus – John 3:8
Of course the Greek word translated “spirit” is the word “pneuma,” which means “breath.”
The other thing I noticed about this scent was that I had not noticed it earlier. I mean, I had noticed it, but had not really attended to it. I had sat in that chapel for hours, breathed in that scent, and paid no attention to its beauty. Have I not done the same with the Holy Spirit, finding myself surrounded by it, yet failing to attend to it, to look for it, to attune myself to it? I cannot make the Spirit come, but I can watch and listen and wait, and make myself ready to notice when, by grace, it makes itself known.