Sensing God

People often associate beauty with God, and many of us might speak of experiencing God in the beauty of creation – of what we see around us, or of what we hear – sublime music, or inspiring words in scripture or poetry.

In church recently we listened to the gentle story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume and wiping them with her hair, the fragrance filling the whole house. For me, this Gospel is an encouragement to celebrate the goodness of God, and to experience God, through our senses beyond just sight and sound, through touch and through smell.

Smell is such a powerful sense; we all know that a single waft of a particular scent can transport us instantly back in time to a summer cricket pitch, or a childhood holiday or a visit to a grandparents’ house. Other scents appetisingly add to our pleasure in eating, or are specially helpful in calming us, aiding us in finding peace or relaxation.

Call to mind a fragrance that you love, that gives you joy……

That too is a gift from God and can be a reminder of God’s presence with us, just as much as the sight of a majestic mountain or the sound of a choir. And picture Mary, who takes this expensive, divinely fragranced perfume and rubs it into Jesus’ tired, worn feet, wiping it with her hair.

God’s love can be powerfully experienced and shared in our human touch, through the gentleness and the strength of our hands. During covid, when it was impossible to do so, we became keenly aware of how precious it is to hold someone’s hand, or simply touch someone’s arm, in reassurance or support. God’s love is in every such connection.

Jesus affirmed that the greatest commandment was to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…and to love your neighbour as yourself.’ God can be encountered, and his love passed on to others, through every one of our
senses, though every beautiful and precious aspect of being human.

Revd Kate McFarlane