A couple of years ago our church’s student ministry went to the valley (border between Mexico and Texas) for a mission trip over Spring Break. I didn’t go, but I remember the trip because I remember the shirts. The shirts had a picture of an orange tree and the words “Smells Like Heaven.” Apparently, around the time of our Spring Break the orange groves in that area would be in full blossom and had a wonderful smell. I remember as the shirt was explained that I nodded, having never smelled a citrus blossom, I really had no idea what they were talking about.
We now have a lemon tree in a large pot growing on our back porch. Truly, the blooms smell quite lovely. But, I guess that I disagree that it’s what Heaven smells like. And, honestly, I think Heaven will smell a little different to everyone.
I was transported this morning in fact, and reminded of what Heaven smells like to me. Our little garden is awash in new growth. A week ago I walked out there and noticed that there were teeny beanies appearing on the bean plants. I remember being so excited because I knew that it wouldn’t be long until we could start to harvest. Then on Thursday, I was out there watering and I pulled the plants apart to lay the hose down and lo and behold, under the bean plant canopy there were full-sized, mature beans just waiting to be picked! Happy day! I knew that I’d have to pick every few days to keep the plants in production, so I was out there this morning looking for new beans and I got slapped in the face with an aroma that brought back so many memories!
It was hotter this morning than it was earlier this week, and heat really brings out this particular smell. The smell of tomato plants, warming in the sun.
Growing up, starting the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade I began to spend a major part of the summer at my grandparents house. I spent lots of time reading, playing with blocks, sleeping in, and helping in their garden. My Pa-pa’s prize plants were his tomatoes. He grew several different kinds. While the plant names are certainly lost to history I remember the tiny little cherry tomatoes that I snacked on. There were giant tomatoes that were sliced and eaten with a little salt and pepper. There were more moderately sized tomatoes that my Aunt and Ga-ga would peel, slice and can.
Every morning, it was a little like an easter egg hunt, heading into the tomato plants that were so tall! They grew in huge cages with branches and leaves hanging out and the bright red tomatoes hanging, hidden among the leaves. The smell was overpowering. It would scent the whole backyard as the day grew hotter. I remember being so sad for the tomatoes that the birds got, or the ones that split before we picked them. But Papa would just pick them up and toss them on the compost pile.
That was what I remembered in the garden this morning. It drew me to the tomato plants where I was please to find 3 small, green cherry tomatoes already growing on one of the plants. The other plants are blooming, and that means lots of tomatoes later this summer. But, for today, I was able to enjoy the smell of Heaven. Why do I think that Heaven smells like tomato plants? Because my Papa went to heaven in 1999. And I know how much he loved Jesus and tomato plants. I can’t help but belive that when he got there that Jesus was waiting with some heavenly tomato plant transplants. By the time I get there I fully expect every heavenly backyard will be filled with my Papa’s tomato plants, growing sweet red tomatoes in a multitude of sizes.