A Sensual Experience

Written by on June 2, 2011

Here’s “A Sensual Experience,” the latest entry from our frequent, and favorite, guest columnist, John Paul Carter.

We humans have three main avenues through which we take in information from the world around us: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Our eyes are the gateway for the visual; our ears for the auditory; and our bodies for the kinesthetic. Although we use them all, learning is usually easier through one of the three.

Sometimes when we take in information through one portal, our imagination helps us to transform it into our favorite mode. We’ve all heard people say, “I see what you’re saying.” Teachers know that there are some kids who need a gentle hand on the shoulder for them to get the verbal or visual message.

The visual seems to be my best path for absorbing information–especially if I see it on the page of a book. My weakest link may be auditory–a strange thing for a counselor to say about himself. (I compensate by taking lots of notes.)

However, the kinesthetic, hands-on, is my best approach for learning a task. And when it comes to relating to the people in my life, I’m partial to touch–a hand-shake, a pat on the shoulder, or a hug. I like to hold hands in the circle of love at the end of the early service or around the dinner table when we’re asking the blessing.

In addition to taking in information by seeing, hearing, and touching, we also have the ability to smell, taste, and imagine. The smell of frying bacon got me out of bed this morning. The taste of orange juice and Louisiana coffee awakened both body and mind.

And later, when I read from the gospels, my imagination not only put me in the story but also allowed me to anticipate how I might have “the mind of Christ” in the day ahead.

Gathering together at the Lord’s Table is a sensual experience – all our senses are called into play. The table with its trays of bread and juice is centered in our sight throughout the service. There are the sounds of organ music, prayers, words of institution, and the gentle clanging of the communion trays. Our imagination takes us to the upper room and reminds us of our own betrayals and the Lord’s mercy.

As we lovingly pass the trays to each other and share the bread and cup, communion becomes a hands-on experience. The aroma of the juice fills the air. Our taste buds are awakened as we partake. And we leave worship to follow Christ with the taste of grace still in our mouths.

Indeed, at the table the Living Christ knocks at every door of our senses, offering Himself to meet our deepest needs. Through our senses, His Spirit calls us to re-member with Him and each other and to follow Him into the world.

Lord, fill up our senses with your presence. Amen.






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