Jesus doesn’t smell of beeswax,
plaster statues, or polished wood.
In this Franciscan church,
Jesus smells of unlaundered clothes,
of smelly socks, of sun-dried perspiration,
of soiled shoes, of urine and used underwear.
He smells of last night’s dinner, of stale beer,
of cigarette smoke and marijuana.
Here one smells poverty and weariness,
one smells not enough sleep
and lack of privacy,
and one smells the great, humble efforts
of pride and human dignity.
My mouth fills with sweetness
For the smell of God envelopes me.
There is no need for incense
to carry my prayers to Heaven.
God is here.
This was written by a homeless man who regularly sleeps in the pews at St. Boniface church in San Francisco. Boniface is one of the few churches in the country where the sanctuary serves both inwardly (the parishoners) and outwardly (the homeless). It opens its doors every day, granting refuge to the weary, letting them sleep on its pews and floors.
How holy! How set apart from the pattern of this world!