Today, I'm continuing an examination of the senses. Come along?
What is a man's life?
A man's life is a few thousand breaths of time, a unit of history, at best a memory though usually forgotten within a leap-year's cycle.
What does a man want from life?
To reach past his given breaths, to be certain of his purpose, his life, and his death.
What is certain?
The only things that are certain are the things that can be measured by the senses--tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, smelling. Significance and purpose--these things cannot be measured with any certainty. They are illusions at best.
Can man find what he wants?
If a man plots a course for significance (i.e., transcending his few thousand breaths), no. If a man sets his sights on certainty about his legacy (or bank accounts), no. If he wants to truly experience life, to let the tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, and smelling leave their mark on him, yes. If he wants to take the information of the senses in, interpret them, and draw some conclusions about what might be eternal, perhaps, yes.
What does a sensory life give us?
The senses give life to emotion. You feel the kiss of your lover, and you sense love. You hear the wind through the autumn oaks or the patter of the rain on the tin roof; you smell the decay of pine needles or muddy banks of the mountain lake; you touch the curve of your wife's spine, see the shape of her hips; you taste the earthy coffee or the fatty slab of aged beef--these things give you great joy. In that love and joy, a man is left with this question--could all this be a happy accident? (The same holds true for pain, though that might be an altogether different conversation.)
What are these emotional interpretations of the senses?
These emotional interpretations are guideposts. They point us beyond the present sensory experience and into something more. Joy and love--don't these things leave you believing that there must be some guiding force? Don't you feel that there must be some grand Gift Giver?
Our emotions teach us to search beyond the temporary--meaning, significance, purpose--for what is eternal. They are the tendons connecting those things we know with the hope of the things not seen.
What is there to fear in the full experience of the senses, then?
Nothing, especially if we push past pagan experience and search for the seeds of something more eternal, especially if we allow that Something-More-Eternal to guide our experience of the senses.
What have the senses shown me?
The senses have lead me to the seat of my own emotions. The emotions have led me to the search for the Giver. The Giver has given me the person of Jesus, who lived a sensory life, and whose sensory life led him into the expression of perfect anger, sorrow, anticipation, trust, joy, and love. My attempts to understand his life, the way he interpreted the world and pushed into the perfect expression of his emotions, has led me into healing and wholeness. This healing and wholeness--partial though it may be--has become the stuff of my faith.
The senses scared me, once-upon-a-time. (Weren't they the seedbed of sin?) They scare me no longer.
***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***