In Wellington, New Zealand, there’s a wooden church that’s a church by name but not by nature. From the outside, it’s small, cream, nineteenth-century, Gothic Revival. Quaint.
When the ‘open’ sign is displayed, visitors are welcome. And when they step inside, many exclaim ‘Wow!’. They don’t expect to see an interior composed entirely of rich native timbers like kauri, rimu, totara and matai. The eye goes straight to the vault, which resembles the upturned hull of an ancient vessel. And visitors don’t expect an old church to smell so good. The timber has not lost its fragrant essence over the centuries. It reminded me of a small cedar box I own; I’ve had it for thirty years, yet with each opening of the lid it releases a heady fragrance forcing me to inhale deeply. And so it was when I entered this church. I wanted to return, to worship. But it now serves only for concerts and events like weddings.
Ailsa has posted a challenge this week for photos evoking a particular fragrance. For anyone who has been inside Old St Paul’s in Wellington, this photo will have you breathing and remembering.