I open the plastic bag of strange looking beads Chris has handed me. Actually they look more like globules stung on yellow cord. I inhale and am instantly transported 25 years back in time and thousands of kilometers away—to Bamako, Mali, where my friend still lives.
“Oh my, God, Chris. This takes me right back to the market in Bamako.” I close my eyes and see the stalls and vendors, inhale again and am overwhelmed with nostalgia. “What is it?”
“Myrrh,” she says.
“As in baby Jesus and Frankincense?”
She nods. “It’s the resin collected from the tree by making incisions and catching the drips that seep out onto the bark. Malian women wear strings of myrrh around their waist as a perfume.
“Why did we never find this when I lived there with you?”
She shrugs. I understand. We were learning so much in the early months that we simply didn’t have time to find it all.
I inhale again. And how, I wonder, can a smell be so powerful? It has transported me in a way no picture or words have been able to do. I feel tears trickling as I give her a huge thank you hug.
More about MYRRH
Myrrh, like frankincense, has always been consumed in large quantities, both in the preparation of domestic and religious incense, in perfumed oils and as medicine, and was at periods prized much higher than Frankincense. In medical terms, myrrh has antiseptic and sedative properties. It has been mentioned in Egyptian medical texts, and in ancient Egypt it was also used for embalming alongside Frankincense.
Now, is used as an antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles, and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease. Myrrh has also been recommended as an analgesic for toothaches, and can be used in liniment for bruises, aches, and sprains. Myrrh is also used in veterinary practice for healing wounds.