See, Taste, Smell, Hear, and Touch God

5 06 2011

Reflections on Chapter 2, “Senusal Glory”, from Dan Allender’s book Sabbath.

I woke up this morning to a chorus of birds; not just one chirping, but an actual choir of them. I got up and out and had a long, lingering look at the lake; after a while I took in the multi-shades of green of a circle of leafy trees; the combination was dazzling.

It is Sunday; today will be Sabbath for me and I am reminded that Sabbath was made for us. A day like this was made “not only for the elite, the spiritual, or the wealthy; it is for all equally, including one’s beasts of burden” (36; from Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath is, among other things, this day of noticing, of taking in what we more often then not, walk by.

“The Sabbath,” Allender writes, “is marked by some moment in time when the clutter and congestion of sameness is released. It is like the loosening of the line between a sailboat and the dock” (38). It is a day when we feel again, and see and hear God in a “sensual” way. It is when we walk with God and see His beauty; something in us is set right again through this Sabbath experience.

What is creation? What is all this beauty we wake up to on the Sabbath?

Creation reflects God’s glory, which is before us like a surface fabric whose deepest weave is a gift of God’s love. And the only way to take it in, even to a degree, is through a hermeneutic of delight. One must stand before creation in awe and with gratitude if one is to see, taste, smell, hear, and touch God (40).

Beauty, Allender says, is both what we crave and more than we know what to do with. God calls us to come and delight in beauty on the Sabbath. The author asks, “What part of creation will you love this Sabbath? What portion of reality will you enter with senses aroused, ready, and desiring a taste of goodness? What beauty will you receive and then give back as the praise and honor that is deserved?” (44)

Our delighting in such beauty leads us to worship; to respond to the awakening of our senses to God; our realization again of “color, texture, taste, fragrance, fire, sound, sweetness and delight.” Worship is “our response to beauty as we offer awe and gratitude for the gift of goodness” (44).

Do you stand in front of a mountain, do you look at your toes in the water, do you reflect on a tree outside your window, do you notice an ant crawling around the rocks, do you see the bird in flight, do you take in the color of nature? Do you see, do you hear, do you taste, do you feel and then do you ask, “Who should I thank for all of this?” This awe points us to God; this awe makes us want to take our gratitude somewhere. It makes us want to be heard by our Creator, saying,

“Thank you, thank you for including me in this moment” and then to hear the Creator say in return, “No, thank you for joining me in this glory, for celebrating with me my glory”

This makes me think of a friend of ours who wouldn’t call himself a follower of Christ. One day he said that he often looks at his family and feels like he ought to thank someone for them, but he doesn’t know who to thank. I understand this. For myself, I often feel this sudden need to give credit where credit is due. When I see something or experience something beautiful, interesting, creative, I don’t just feel “awe” I actually feel like I am participating in something, with Someone, and I can’t help but turn to Him and say, “Amazing. Thank-you.”

The author reminds us that Sabbath is here for us to go out and find our senses again, to feed the hunger we have for delight. He asks, “What intrigues, amazes, tickles your fancy, delights your senses, and casts you into an entirely new and unlimited world is the raw material of Sabbath” (47).

As we wander out of our six days, we need to ask ourselves: “Will this be merely a break or a joy? Will this lead my heart to wonder or routine? Will I be more grateful or just happy that I got something done?” (47) We must open our senses and take in all that is moving before us: “Quiet the questions as to why or even how. Silence the accusations or doubt. It will not serve us well if the Sabbath is entered, or even planned, in busyness. All that is required is to know that God dances in his creation” (48)

Sabbath is our experimental day, the day to feed the hunger in us to know and delight in all that God made and said is good. It is a day of our senses; a day so appealing, so anticipated, that we say “My heart is full, and Sabbath is only four hours away.” (Ruth Haley Barton, from her book Sacred Rhythms, quoted on p43)

— Teresa Klassen



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