The iris sets were planted a season ago. As a friend had gifted them, my hopes were high of seeing the flowers come to life. However, the winter months had not been kind, and I doubted any would be resurrected this spring.

I was wrong. Little by little, the green poked right on up as the sun warmed the soil and along with it, hope rose.

As the plants began to extend themselves, a flower blossomed upon the tip and unfurled purple pedals like hands reaching out in praise. As I passed by one morning, temptation hit full force. I leaned forward to put my nose smack dab in the center, and that is when the waft of iris triggered memories long forgotten.

In a flash I was eight. Mom had just reached into the flower bed outside the front door of our big white house on the corner and snipped off an iris as an offering of what was to come. Just before making our way to church, she plunked the pretty purple iris into my hands. The crunch of tinfoil at the end of the stem caught the dripping water soaked napkin ensuring the flower would at least last through the service we were about to attend.

It was the month of May. The students from my elementary school were forming a procession. One by one we lined up — walked up — and placed our flowers within a bigger vase-like vessel at the altar in front of church. Some had tulips of bright pink and yellow. Some had special containers in which to place their flowers. Some had lilacs right off the bush. Still others gathered different flowers of beauty, and together we moved bringing forth our first fruits from the flowerbeds.

Walking down the aisle single file, we moved to the music, “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria; Ave, Ave Maria.” I remember the quiet spring evening and the people from the parish taking time to arrange themselves in pause. The memories were all embedded deep within somewhere and unleashed at the smell of the iris in my garden decades later.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 unleashes a sweet fragrance long before I caught a whiff of the scent of iris. It says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

What a beautiful reminder today and may it be so tomorrow and always.

“For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.” (Hymn “Now Thank We All Our God,” written in 1636 by a Protestant minister, Martin Rinkart.) Amen.

Kathleen Kjolhaug lives on the family homestead outside of Clearbrook with her husband Pete. She enjoys writing about family life and brings humor into the sacred moments of everyday living.

Theology in the Trenches appears in several local newspapers throughout Minnesota. Kathleen can be reached by e-mail at


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