Certified Fragrance Free

by Renee van Doorn

A few months ago, Janine Ridings and I started an occasional correspondence related to her ministry. At that time I had no idea who Janine was. Then early in December she mailed me a Christmas letter with a picture of her family. After reading the letter, I realized that she attends the 11:00 Sunday service in the Fragrance Free Zone. This explained why I had not seen her around. Many questions came to my mind. Just who are these people “hiding in the Zone?” Are they our modern-day outcasts? And are we allowed in their “Zone”?

The following Sunday after church, I recognized Janine outside in the courtyard from a picture she had sent in her Christmas letter. I introduced myself and mentioned that I wanted to visit the “Zone.” Later that week, Janine responded with an e-mail asking if I was serious about my desire to visit the “Zone.” She said the chemically sensitive people there would love more fellowship with others. She then proceeded to tell me that I would probably be a good candidate to visit, as I appeared to be the “au natural” type, not wearing fragrances.

In preparation for my visit, we went over a list of sensitizing agents, from scented laundry detergent to perfume, scented hair spray, and other scented products. We determined that, for the welfare of the sensitive, I would subject myself to a pre-entrance “sniff” test. I could join them only if declared “Certified Fragrance Free.” The challenge was on, and as I wanted that certification, I scrutinized every potential aromatic assailant we owned. At the store I searched for unscented shampoo, which I couldn’t find. Because I’ve always thought that manufactured fragrances tend to “stink,” cutting down on odors wasn’t a big stretch for me.

On Sunday I was warmly welcomed by the sweet people in the “Zone” and swiftly passed the “sniff test.” During the service, my mind wandered at times. In the presence of this “crowd” of seven, I tried to imagine how their sensitivities affected every area of their lives, from the social basics, to how they could keep their hair clean. I concluded that dealing with these challenges must give them a unique perspective, a sensitivity from which we all can learn. Social barriers isolate and hinder our need to connect with fellow believers. It would be great if we could break this barrier and come smelling “just as we are,” allowing fellowship with the special people in the Fragrance Free Zone.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews10:25.

Renee van Doorn

Categories Special Subjects | Tags: | Posted on January 30, 2012

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