Stephen Winward, in his book, Your Five Senses, reminds us that the senses are all gateways of the world to us and therefore some of the entry points for God to enter into our experience. The point is as valid for those who are of faiths other than Christian as it is for those who embrace the Christian calling. For that matter, it holds for those who do not adhere to any faith, because the beauty of nature, itself a spiritual experience, enters our lives through the gateways of the senses.
The senses are powerful. I shall never forget a moment in my life when I was a young merchant seaman. My ship was passing through the Malacca Straits and I had been away from England, my home, for many months. As the ship passed through the straits, the most beautiful scent wafted from the mainland across the vessel, as I stood on the deck. It was exactly the scent worn by my girlfriend, and it was as though she were standing beside me. A deeply emotional moment rooted in one of the senses.
Sight can lead us into the profoundly spiritual. The picture you see above is of Tom Groggin, on the upper reaches of the River Murray. I am standing on the New South Wales side. Victoria is the opposite bank. It is truly one of the lovely places of peace where, in days gone by, I have enjoyed many hours of fly-fishing. Yet Tom Groggin is more than sight. The exquisite scene, the sound of the bubbling stream, the scent of the Eucalypts, the tactile pleasure of the gentle breeze on my skin, all take me to somewhere below the surface of life, aided by all the senses.
We are creatures built to be ready for the wonder of the world to enter deeply into us. Sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, open our lives to Ultimate, so much greater than we, infinitely so.
This is a sound preparation for the Quiet Time which keeps us in touch with Reality, centres us and allows the moment to guide us, to open up possibilities, to remind us of the resources that lie within.
We all, no doubt, have different favourite places for the Quiet Time. Ruth and I have a favourite one. We like to go to a carpark on the slopes of a glacially-formed rock, not far from our home. South Australians will know it as The Bluff, in Encounter Bay. The senses are all active there, but especially the reality of endurance comes to us in the sound of the surf on the rocks below and on a very short area of beach. I am at peace with the world there, and when the Quiet Time has run its course, I am ready to return to the everyday world. For Ruth, too, the moments do their work.
Wherever you have your Quiet Time, may it be truly a blessing in your deepest self.