Senses

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.                                                                                                                         Psalm 139:13-16

Sitting in church today got me thinking. I know, you’re right, one should be thinking when they are at church. My thoughts ran to our marvelous gift of human senses, and how they are stimulated in church. The worship music of course involves our hearing. The spoken word of the pastor also involves hearing. Truly though, all of our senses are involved in the process of meeting together at church. Even the sense of taste when we share communion together.

The Catholic Church of my youth could not be equaled in how it appealed to not only sight and sound, but smell. Those great lingering smells of incense take one to a different place in the mind- a deep place that is always remembered. The wooden pews in old Catholic churches have soaked up that incense smell over decades (in some cases, centuries), and they render that church a repository of stored memories. Incense is supposed to represent our offerings going up to God, symbolized in the smoke- a sweet smell in God’s nostrils as it were.

In older churches, stained glass windows caused a visual reaction of beauty as well as teaching. The art and sculptured statues also stimulated our visual sense, and the beauty was gratifying- a fitting offering of such talents to God by the artists who created them.

The sense of touch, or rather the relative absence of it due COVID-19 responses, saddens me. When meeting friends, do we shake hands, fist bump, hug, nod from a proper distance? I am by nature a hugger, and there is, naturally, some hesitancy to hug. I also was a big handshaker. I know that this is probably the biggest germ spreader one can indulge in, even in non-COVID days. But old habits are hard to break, especially when you don’t want to break them!

Yes, church affords a wealth of responses from our entire being. That is how it should be, I think.

Prayer: Lord, you have given us the gift of our senses. Such incalculable wealth we have! Amen

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