It will be a while before the travelogue is complete, if ever; something breaks inside of me each time I try to continue. Anyway, I’m itching to write about thoughts as they happen, instead of rewinding to months ago. Today, I simply want to ramble.
Diya light and havan fire and lamp light are flames no matter the fuel, kumkum always the same brilliant blood-crimson regardless of the source. I don’t cook well, and I chant with the voice of a donkey. But scent, scent I know, and incense is my favourite gift of offering, perhaps because it’s a surrender of my skill and a deliberate, delicate choice.
When confronted with the sort of substandard chemical-bitter-acrid nostril-assaults that are widely sold on sticks, I cannot imagine wafting a scent up to the Devas that would send me into coughing fits. There are still artists who create the sort of exquisite, complex, handmade incense that embody the whisper of a fragile flower, the dream of otherworldly spice, or the primal sanctity of flowing resin. They are not as expensive as I had expected to find, and even if they are, well, as long as I remain fed and sheltered, I can’t care about cost.
I order incenses online, since taking the scent of offering-sticks is forbidden anyway; from websites I can read names and descriptions, notes, sense the idea behind each fragrance. It’s the search for a pearl in a pile of shells, the sound of the Beloved’s name in a quiet wisp of smoke. There isn’t a blend in existence that is the perfect offering. But I look. I know fragrance. I think on Him, keep thinking and wondering, what may I give You, what will be best.
Tonight I opened a new variety from my last order, a small golden box like a chest of riches. From the name, the words, I could almost taste it before even touching it – dappled-light feral masala, regal and unique, whose scent would be to incense, the way a smirk intrigues beyond a smile, how an orchid holds a mystery that garden flowers shrug away. I feel its rightness and then let the anticipation fall away. I pray, and light, and waft the fragrance softly, and there is nothing but the One who is to receive it.
The room is brighter and happier; the scent diffuses everywhere, the path of smoke flows straight and high. It feels right. Still lingering is the sort of musk that carries your face to your hands for hours after touching it.
That is the breath I send to Him, silence, and scent, and reverence. These words are only their shadow.
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