The Scent of a Lavender


It was during our anniversary road trip. We had just come into the Provence region and were driving on the country lanes.  We had planned to come to this region with a hope to see the legend lavender fields and smell the flowers. I had only seen them from TV or magazines before and was impressed by its breathtaking beauty. I was so excited and ready to be amazed.  We had driven past some lavender fields on each side of the road. But maybe because the lavender blooming season had just passed for some time, most of the lavender fields we saw were somewhat dried up, covered with dry branches or grass. It looked like a piece of stained purple velvet. I was hoping and praying that there would be something better than this. 

Then suddenly, we saw something different from afar. A large clean purple velvet!  As we drove closer, we saw this perfect lavender field. The flowers were flourishing and the color was gorgeous. We stopped, got out of our car, crossed through some brambles and finally stepped into the filed. We were amazed by this beauty. We just wanted to have a close look at these little purple elfins and immerse ourselves in the distinguished scent of lavender. We took some great photos. A purple sea under the blue sky with amazing scent surrounding us. It was one of the most unforgettable moments in that road trip. 

Days have passed by, the trip has long finished and we’ve been back to our normal routines for a while. I often recall that day, that moment when we encountered the perfect lavender field. I still vividly remember that when I saw that field, my heart was so drawn to its color and pattern, which made me just wanted to jump in, surrounding myself in the waves of this floral sea and becoming a part of the beautiful view. I think that’s why people love to take photos of themselves in beautiful places— they are drawn to beauty. They want to become a part of it. However, when I got closer, bending over and watching closely at the small purple lavender petals, taking in its sweet smell, as much as enjoying it, I soon felt the limit, or the end of it, as if someone’s gently telling me: “My dear, that’s it. Thanks for coming.” All of sudden, I felt a touch of disappointment.

Why does beauty hard to seize? I can’t take that lavender field with me. Even the small lavender branch I picked from the field with a beautiful smell has long been dried up and thrown away.

Have you ever enjoyed a wonderful show, a concert or a movie? Perhaps it’s the time spent with good friends or family or a great vacation on the faraway island… They offered you a pleasant and unforgettable experience. But when they came to the end, you got hit by a touch of disappointment, wondering, why good times are always so short? You will remember the love, joy or the beauty of that experiences for a long while. Especially on a draining rainy day.

The Provence lavender field experience is just like that to me. I can’t help wondering, perhaps beauty is meant to inspire people to ponder and learn, or induce them to discover something else, someone else. 

I can’t articulate it any better than C.S Lewis. This profound insight of his shed a great light on what I’ve been pondering:

 “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”( C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

It was my idea in the first place to go to Provence for your marriage anniversary. Why Provence? Because I wanted to smell the scent of the flower that I had yet to found. 🙂 And we wanted to create some great memories in a beautiful place for our anniversary. I got there, saw the purple sea, took photos, took the purple petals in my hands, put them close to my nose and smelled them… and that’s it. Then we left. 

Was really just the scent of the flowers that made our trip special and motivated us to drive 6 hours to get there? No. It’s what the scent of the flower carries that counts. The more I savor the sweet moment, the more I long for a place where there’s endless pure light, beauty, joy, and love… where it feels like a real home… and the more, my heart is awakened and yearning for my Maker and Savior. 

Beauty is meant to point us to the Creator and our forever home. God gave us the surprising gift of encountering a perfect lavender filed in a slightly offseason to show us that He was with us and loving us, that He is beautiful and His creation is tirelessly reflecting His beauty. He was reminding us: “Hey, my dear child, I’m glad that you enjoyed what I created. Come to me. I have more for you. And, I’m your home.” 

“Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in You” —Saint Augustine 


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