The Smell of God

by Fr Duncan McVicar on 16/05/2011 -

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Birmingham as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Jones. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10 , 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver the couple’s new daughter, Emily. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs. “I don’t think she is going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10% chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.” Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Emily would likely face is she survived. She would never walk. She would never talk. She would probably be blind. She would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation and on and on. Emily clung to life – a marvel her miniature body could endure. But, as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Emily’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw,” the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort – so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Emily struggled alone beneath the ultra-violet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl. There was never a moment when Emily suddenly grew stronger. But, as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Emily turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later-though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero Emily went home from the hospital, just as he mother had predicted. Five years later, Emily is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for like. She shows no signs, whatsoever, of any mental or physical impairments. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more – but that happy ending is far from the end of her story. One afternoon, Emily was sitting in her mother’s lap in the park where her brother’s Dustin’s football team was practicing. As always, Emily was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she fell silent.Hugging her arms across her chest, Emily asked, “Do you smell that?” Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.” Emily closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?” Once again her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet. It smells like rain. “Still caught in the moment, Emily shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.” Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Emily then happily hopped down to play with some other children. Thinking back on her daughter’s word’s it confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Jones’ family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Emily on His chest – and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.



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