When I was a little girl, we had two lilac bushes planted in the corner of our back yard, a white one and a traditional light purple one. They were close enough to meet at the top but far enough apart for me to have a secret space between them at the bottom. I use to play there beneath the arching branches feeling hidden from the world.
Perhaps that's one reason I adore the scent of lilacs—but I also love it because it is beautiful and evocative. It is so dense that it almost has weight. When I bury my nose in the flowers and inhale, I discern the tiniest hint of sharp spice and a cleanness like soap, but mostly, the smell is pure sweetness—a sweetness that lingers heavily like the taste of honey on the tongue. It is a rich purple smell, and not just because of the color of the flowers.
I've read that lilac is a nearly impossible scent to capture in a perfume. The bloom period for lilacs is very short, and the flowers themselves are small. So it is extremely difficult to obtain a sufficient quantity of the essential oils for manufacturing perfume. Many perfume makers create artificial lilac scent by blending other oils to create an approximation of the smell. Because of that, I've never purchased lilac perfume because I'm afraid that I would be disappointed. Instead, I let the scent of lilacs continue to be a seasonal pleasure.
Sometimes I think we humans try to hard to hold onto our intense pleasures instead of realizing that things come in seasons. The few times I have been tempted by interest in another man, the reason wasn't that I was disappointed in my husband. It was that I missed the heady pleasure of falling desperately in love—the longing and the seemingly infinite possibilities. I've wondered at times if our culture does us a disservice to have so many songs and stories and films about falling in love. It gives the impression that we should be experiencing that initial, consuming intoxication all the time, instead of realizing that it is just the springtime of a relationship and that the growth of mature intimacy brings a different, deeper set of pleasures.
I have also known people who grow angry and resentful about hitting this stage in their walk as Christians. They come to God in a flush of fervor and faith. For a while, they are excited about starting fresh, and sometimes it even seems as though every prayer they utter is answered. But that first infatuation with God seldom lasts. Before long, they come face to face with the need to build a relationship. As with human partners, learning to trust and communicate with God is difficult. Some people turn away at that point, feeling that they were given a false set of expectations. Others turn to emotionalism, trying to manufacture the same excited passion they felt from the first. And others buckle down to see what the next stage of faith is all about.
My journey with God is like my marriage to my husband. It's a relationship that is long-standing but still and forever in process. At times, it's hard work. There have been plenty of mistakes and misunderstandings and disappointments. But no one else knows and loves me so deeply, not even my spouse. And sometimes, when I'm not even looking for it, the passion and the excitement of falling in love with Jesus fills me all over again. I think it must be a seasonal thing, like my lilacs.