IVP - Behind the Books - Seeing, Tasting, Smelling, Hearing and Touching the Wonders of God

January 18, 2012

Seeing, Tasting, Smelling, Hearing and Touching the Wonders of God

Thank you to Jeff Crosby, Associate Publisher and Director of Sales & Marketing for this post.

The Advent season we have just journeyed through is one in which our senses are often heightened beyond the norm: The fragrance of lit candles and the sound of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite; the taste of eggnog and the brilliance of multi-colored lights trimming homes and trees; the warm touch of friends and family who have gathered with us.

In spite of the oft-times hectic pace of the cultural trappings of the Advent season, it is one in which we are often more aware of the senses, more in tune with the wonder of Immanuel, God with us.

But what about the rest of the year?

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If I'm honest, I realize that I'm very much like the people my friends Beth A. Booram and J. Brent Bill are writing to in their just-released book Awaken Your Senses when they say:

"Since we live so much out of our thinking, we often become divorced from our souls and our bodies. We lose a sense of place, of rootedness in life. Using our senses helps us live in present time." (emphasis added)

And we need to live in that present time. After all, it's the only time that we have. But how do we cultivate the disciplined use of our senses in seasons, unlike Advent, during which the world is experienced in gray rather than vivid color? When we hear the cacophony of suburban traffic more often and more loudly than the beautiful sound of the Wood Thrush? When friends and family are not near, but quite far from us and distant from our physical touch?

In a recent conversation about his reason for writing Awaken Your Senses, Brent Bill, whom I first met nearly a quarter century ago and whose written work I've followed and appreciated throughout the intervening years, explained it this way:

One reason the senses are so important is because we neglect to use them. Even though St. Paul tells us to 'present your bodies as a living sacrifice' to God, we rarely do so. We offer our minds and souls, but rarely think of how our bodies were also God-made and can be God-honoring. Our bodies open us in fresh ways -- through sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound -- to experiencing God present with us in tangible ways.

And that is exactly what Awaken Your Senses does: Open readers up to experiencing God present with us. Immanuel, throughout the year.

I've known Beth Booram, the book's co-author, for a much shorter period of time than Brent. But she, too, has become a friend and a trusted guide. We share a love of classical music, the outdoors, and family. We also share an appreciation for well-crafted - and kindly-spoken - words.

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In a section of the book titled "Tasting Words," Beth writes powerfully and metaphorically about the ability to "taste" words, whether those that are life-affirming, sweet and appetizing (words like loving, kind, honest, beautiful, sincere, valiant) or words that are bitter and distasteful (cruel, vile, worthless, ugly, ungrateful). She leads readers through a very poignant spiritual exercise she calls "tasting forgiveness" (see video link below) that is one we all should be mindful of in any season. But as the calendar turns from Advent and Christmastide to Lent and Eastertide in the weeks ahead, her message on the taste of forgiveness is all the more penetrating, and all the more timely. (Drawing on the right by Marcy Jean Stacey; one of several "sense" pictures in the book)

Awaken Your Senses was written for people like me - and, maybe, like you - who need wise and helpful guides on the journey of exploring the wonder of God in any and all seasons: Advent and Christmastide; Lent and Eastertide. And beyond.

Immanuel, God with us.
Throughout the year. Throughout the seasons.
Joy to the world.
Thanks be to God.

More information can be found at the book's Facebook page. Check there on Monday, February 6 to enter a contest based on each of the five senses. Win a gift certificate or a free copy of Awaken Your Senses.
Posted by Leah Kiple at January 18, 2012 1:15 PM Bookmark and Share

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