I love the creaking sound of my feet as they tap across old pine or oak flooring. Whenever I have the opportunity to peruse an antique shop and sift through shelves of china cups and lace doilies, I imagine the stories that could be told by their long deceased owners. Even as a child I had a love of things from bygone eras. I believe this keen interest came from my dear daddy who always had an appreciation of museums and historical facts. And so, while others my age were bored to tears, an old antebellum mansion to tour or a Presidential library to wander through meant that I was a happy camper. Yes, I recall as a youngster regularly and eagerly visiting the sprawling old multi-leveled home of my beloved friend, Bettie. The pocket doors, cabinetry, and restored wood flooring left me in wide-eyed wonder.
For a short time, when I was nine- years-old, my family rented an old two-story house in a small Texas town. Just a hop, skip, and jump down the road was the dairy we had purchased. And most of our evenings and weekends were spent remodeling the house we would soon occupy. Oh, but I remember well climbing the steps to the attic area of that rent house we resided in for a brief time. It was there that I kept my dolls and spent many imaginative hours at play. I pretended to cook and sew and pamper my “babies” for hours on end. I can still smell that attic today. Oh, it wasn’t an offensive smell. Although some might have labeled that attic as musty or unkempt, in my mind’s eye it smelled of logs that once burned in a turn-of-the-century fireplace and the bread that surely was left rising on the stove in the kitchen below those wooden stairs. Oh, yes, either the attic had a distinctive smell or my imagination was incredibly vivid! Whatever the case, even now as I think of those brief months we spent there, I am beckoned to yesterdays long past. Who had lived there decades before us and what had they left behind for future generations? In the nooks and crannies unexplored were forgotten and forsaken treasures tucked out of sight?
Beloved friends, that attic’s aroma reminds me of my dear momma’s cedar chest. Now in my fifties, it remains a treat to have it opened. Inside of it, you can still find old photographs and baby clothes that my sister and brother and I wore. And intricate pieces of crochet and embroidered linens set atop folded quilts pieced together by my great grandmother. And yes, an old kerosene lamp can be found nearby that chest. My great grandmother had worked long into the night crocheting, embroidering, and piecing quilts by the light of a kerosene lamp. In my adult years, I read of how the women of yesteryear would sigh when their handiwork was completed and say, “It smells of the lamp!” Yes, the labor of their hands was marked by the aroma of the kerosene lamp that had illumined their efforts.
Dear friends, my plastic and tattered dolls from my childhood years were boxed and stored for two real life babies and the old attic long vacated for a home of my own. Yes, I have come to recognize and appreciate that the pattern of my life is as intricate and tedious as the embroidered and crocheted pieces that now adorn the tops of my antique furnishings. Oh, but deep within my soul is the great desire that my Jesus, the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, will burn brightly through me, so that my precious children and the others who have graced my home can confidently say, “She smells of the lamp!” In closing, perhaps this beautiful and poignant song puts it into perspective…
Mama always got up early
And she never went to bed 'til late
Yet, I never heard her complainin'
About her family of eight
There were times she should have been sleepin'
But, late in the midnight hour
She'd get down on her knees
And you could hear her say,
"Lord fill them will your power"
Mama like to burn the midnight oil
Down on her knees in prayer
If you asked her why she did it
She said she did it cause she cared
Now Mama always talked to Jesus
When she knelt by her rocking chair
Oh, I'm glad my mama was willin'
To burn the midnight oil in prayer…
Beloved ones, when the dust has settled over our days, what aroma will remain? Oh, may we burn the midnight oil in prayer, ever in the Presence of Jesus, so that those who come behind us may say, “She smelled of the lamp!”