The Perfume Of Pain (And Life’s Other Mysteries)


It happened again the other day. An elderly woman passed by me and about knocked me off my feet with the powerful smell of her perfume. I couldn’t tell you if the scent of the perfume was delightful or not, because the force of it was overpowering.  I don’t know what the name of that perfume was but to me it could easily have been called “Perfume of Pain.” For many years I have wondered why some older women wear such vast amounts of perfume. Surely it must give them a headache to walk around in such a cloud of aroma. I mentioned this phenomena to my wife and she replied, “Well, I’m sure that sometimes their sense of smell is not as acute as it was in their younger years. So they probably put a little extra on not knowing that the scent is very strong. “ “Well, there you have it!” I said to myself. “Another one of life’s little mysteries has been solved!”

Life holds a lot of little “mysteries.” Learning about the little mysteries of life is part of the joyousness of this earthly journey. But the answer to the question as to the  “purpose of life” is a “big” mystery for many. Some spend their entire lives searching, but never finding the answers to other big questions such as, “What are we doing here?” or “Do we live after death?”  Others just give up looking because they are convinced that there are no answers to such questions. Still others would rather not know anyway, because, it really doesn’t matter to them!

I have never been one of the latter. I’ve always felt a need to know from whence I came and to where I am going. Who, in my mind, can live in peace not knowing the purpose of our existence? Others may feel differently. But if you are like me, in the solemn and quite moments of your life, you want answers to such questions. I have looked for those answers in places I think I can trust: the scriptures, the words of the prophets and in the quiet whisperings of the spirit of God to my soul. Christ spoke to the apostles of understanding the “mysteries” (Mark 4:11), but it is the words of Nephi that resonate more profoundly to my soul.

“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost…” (1Nephi 10:19)

One does have to have faith in Jesus Christ in order to avail themselves of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Many choose to believe, others do not. I believe that the Holy Ghost is real. I believe in a Heavenly Father who loves each one of us. I believe the big mysteries can be solved…in this life! But if we choose to leave life’s “big” mysteries unanswered, we are also choosing to live a life void of purpose. Not many things in history are so factual that they can’t be denied, but death is one of them; and living to die is not much of an incentive or motivating purpose to me.

I am finding that life is a lot shorted than I expected! I feel great comfort in knowing that my life will not end when my body lies under the earth. For me, and countless others, that is comforting. And for some reason it feels good to help someone else receive that comfort in their life. I’m sure my wife got some satisfaction out of answering my mystery of the “perfume of pain.” Many people spend their entire lives being teachers and derive great joy out of so doing.  Some may find it offensive, but I think testimonies shared by people of faith regarding the plan of salvation is often God’s most effective way of communicating it with his children, because many times,  we just won’t listen directly to his spirit!

Life holds many “little” mysteries whose answers serve as incentives for daily life. I will breathe a little bit deeper the next time I pass an elderly woman doused in a nice perfume. I now know that she is wanting to smell “extra” nice. I will no longer call it the “perfume of pain” because I have a better understanding and that’s nice.  But it is the answers to life’s “big” mysteries that provide purpose and lasting joy to this life. There are answers out there. I would echo the words of Moroni:

“And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever…” (Ether 12:41)


Looking For Shapes In The Clouds


Over the course of my life I have had many conversations with naysayers of religion and those who do not believe in a loving Heavenly Father. I have been told on numerous occasions that my belief in a supreme creator is based solely on emotion, and on my desire to believe in something that is not real. That all I hope for, and believe in, is the stuff of fairy tales. In essence they are telling me that I am looking for shapes in the clouds!

I do believe in ‘emotion’ in all of its wonderfulness. “Emotion” gives me feelings of love, passion, desire, and yes…hope! Through emotion I have been able to climb mountains that I thought were beyond my abilities. Through emotion I have been able to forge rivers and valleys that scream out that they are unconquerable! And yes, through emotion, I have been able to feel the presence of the divine in my life which has enabled me to love stronger, be kinder, and be a better man by it. Why can’t a loving God communicate through my senses, including my ability to feel of His spirit through inspiration!

So I admit that I believe in ‘shapes in the clouds,’ because they are there…but only if we look for them.


There Is No Language For This Loss


She stood in black. I didn’t know what to say. The death had been so sudden. I was at a loss. I extended my hand and offered my condolences, but no words could convey my thoughts and emotions. Echoing in her mind were the words of a recent song:

“Now everybody’s come. My loved ones file by. I stand here feeling numb, while family and friends hug me as they cry. There is no language for this loss.” (“Don’t Know What to Say”, Olivia Newton-John, Liv On, 2016)

Now everybody’s left and they have gone on with there lives! The world is till turning but the feeling is not the same for those left behind. As she stands looking out her bedroom window she ponders her emotions.

“Now so much time has past but for me it is standing still. And way too soon they’ll ask that I stop looking back, I hope someday I will.” (“Don’t Know What to Say”)

This love we feel for others is the most divine gift given to us by a loving Father. It is the essence of who we are and what we so desire to take with us. As Paul stated to the Romans:

“…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (6:23)

If you have ever stood in black, there really is ‘no language’ for the loss. But there is a name by which we can draw strength, comfort and hope. The greatness of the gospel of Christ is that we can stop looking back. Time does move forward and the loss and grief we feel now will be replaced with the love we so deserve and desire. Is there any greater doctrine of which I would want to embrace?


If Only I Had Married Another, My Life Would Be So Much Better!


Almost every decision we make in this life has consequences, be it good or bad.  None more so than the person we choose to marry and spend our life with.  Our partner becomes the mother or father of our children who has tremendous influence on their happiness and the moral values they are taught. Often our economic place in the social structure will be determined by the industry of each other. Indeed, almost all aspects of our lives are affected by this most important decision.

During the mundane course of life, a woman may find themselves pondering if she shouldn’t have run away that night when she was 17 and Jimmy was waiting in the car with a pocket full of promises and exciting dreams of far away places. Or a husband might be thinking, “If only I had married Janet, she would have supported me in my entrepreneur endeavors.” That kind of thought process is not only dangerous, but it is usually based on unknown circumstances and hypothetical thinking.

Every road in this life has it twists and turns but since we never took the ‘other’ road, we have never had to experience what it ‘would’ have been like to have made another choice in who we married. From a distance perhaps Jimmy or Janet looks like their life turned out great, but reality is not always what it seems. I am reminded of a long ago song sung by Harry Chapin.  In it he meets up with an old highschool girlfriend when she gets into the Taxi he is driving. They reminise and then when he drops her off at her mansion he sings:

“And she walked away in silence, It’s strange, how you never know, But we’d both gotten what we’d asked for, Such a long, long time ago. You see, she was gonna be an actress And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights, And I took off for the sky. And here, she’s acting happy, Inside her handsome home. And me, I’m flying in my taxi…” (Taxi)

Fantasizing that the road not taken would have been a road free of pain and suffering is just not reality. It would probably strike us as funny that in reality, our spouse is the “Jimmy or Janet’ for someone from their past. The better thing for all married couples to do is hold tight to each other, look for ways to smooth the path ahead, and learn to love the person we have made sacred covenants with before God, angels, and witnesses.


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