I always thought there were three kings, three wise men, who were there when Jesus was born and who brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Turns out that…

Scripture doesn’t tell us the number of “Wise Men” or “Magi,” and it suggests that they were not at the birth. The Magi are only mentioned in the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Three gifts are mentioned: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but the number of men is not specified. Likewise, the Gospel account is not clear as to when exactly the Magi arrived, but it seems they may have come nearly two years after the birth.

Just shows you how our perception of what happened is totally influenced by the stories being told and the songs sung about historic events.

I had to think about this today because we went to an event where someone told us about the healing powers of essential oils, frankincense being one of these oils, and one of the most expensive ones. (And there was I, thinking that frankincense was burnt as incense…:)

Smelling all these incredible oils made me think not so much about their medicinal usefulness (we were reminded that T-tree oils kills lice:) but about the importance of using your sense of smell. The effect a particular ‘whiff’ can have on us. I wanted to take all these, as it turned out really expensive, little bottles, bring them home and rub their content one after the other under Pádraig’s nose. Sharing these incredibly intense, almost overpowering smells, from the simplest orange or lemon to the really sophisticated blends of the rarest oils from the far East.

How Pádraig must feel smelling disinfectant reminding him of more than a year in hospital. Of spiking temperatures and stuff with his body happening he didn’t control nor understand. Infections coming out of nowhere. Of being deprived of so much that makes life worth living: from fresh air to wet skin to food, drink and touch.

I am convinced that his unbroken spirit of adventure, his quest of discovery, his daily routine of really hard mental and physical work helping him on his way to recovery has to do with the absolute pleasure of being able again to do stuff, feel stuff, taste it, smell it and touch it.

Today, there was another first: he held his head up. Not high, but towards the front as he had always done. Something he had not been able to do for a long time. Something that looks easy but had been incredibly hard. Today he did it. For several minutes. Stunning all of us.