The Sense of Smell (January 17, 2012)

…Opening To…

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

…Listening In…

Let my prayer stand before you like incense; let my uplifted hands be like the evening offering. (Psalm 141:2; context)

…Filling Up…

Yesterday, we began a week of devotions based on the senses. When I got to the point of writing the “Sending Out” section for the week, I listed the five senses, finished the sentence, and then read back over it. Next I laughed out loud. What does the sense of smell really have to do with noticing God’s presence?

So let’s go ahead and tackle “smell” today and then move on tomorrow with a sense that seems to fit better with finding God’s presence. Not so fast, you might say. Perhaps “smell” has more to show us than you, Adam, originally thought. Maybe you’re right. Let’s see. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought to myself, “Wow, that smells like the presence of God.” Incense during church services (if you’re into that kind of thing) might give you a fragrant association with the holy, but that’s all I can come up with.

But here’s where the sense of smell has something to offer. Of the five senses, the sense of smell is the one most strongly associated with memory. Perhaps when you smell chocolate chip cookies in the oven, you are suddenly seven years old again and sitting at your grandmother’s kitchen table with your legs dangling over the side of your chair. Perhaps when you smell your gym bag, you are suddenly back on the field at the end of the big game.

What association, smell or otherwise, brings you more fully into God’s presence? Is it opening your Bible? Or stepping into church? Or smelling the incense? If you are finding it difficult to train yourself to notice God’s movement, try associating it with a memory or a smell. If I thought of God every time I smelled chocolate chip cookies, I think I would be quite excited indeed.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you have given me a sense of smell to experience more fully the world you have created. Help me to seek your presence with all my senses and to associate you with all that is good in my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, ready to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell your presence, that I may be more aware of your movement in my life.

2 thoughts on “The Sense of Smell (January 17, 2012)

  1. Have you never been in church and when fresh bread is offered or the wine poured and smelled or sensed God’s blessings on these common elements of His daily feeding us? Maybe it’s the wind carrying the fragrances to the congregation but it’s gift.

  2. The smell of the sea brings me to God in a way few of my other senses do. Certainly the magnificence of the colors, the majesty of the pounding waves, the coolness of the ocean water, the taste of salt on my skin inform me I am in the presence of God. But the scent of the salt, the sand, the water, even the flats at low tide, awaken God’s presence deep within my soul as no other sense. Perhaps there is something to the memory of a smell from my childhood in this sensation but I believe it is more than that.

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