Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Sixth Sense

No, I haven’t started seeing dead people. I think there’s another “sixth sense,” and I’ve been pondering it since Tuesday.

Tuesday was one of those days that just made me glad to be alive, made me realize what a gift it is to be who I am, where I am, doing what I’m doing. I attribute much of that attitude to the weather. The sun was shining, there were just a few spots of cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky, and it was a balmy 78 degrees. I spent the hour and a half or so between work and small group in Adams Park, this historical square block of thoughtfully landscaped earth in the heart of downtown Wheaton. I settled myself on a bench under a tree and just drank in my environs, focusing on each of my senses in turn: the feel of lush grass beneath my un-sandalled feet and the cool breeze that kept throwing my hair in my face…the sound of children playing, the fountain running, cars passing…the intoxicating scent of lilacs on a bush nearby…the sight of the sun playing on the leaves of the tree above me, giving them almost a stained glass-like appearance…and last but not least, the lingering taste of chips and salsa, my quickly consumed afternoon snack.

For those few moments on that bench, I gave myself up to my senses, as though what I experienced through them was all that existed at that point in time. Thinking about it later, though, I realized that Tuesday afternoon’s experience would have been impossible without a sixth sense. I could have very well physically experienced all of the same sensations yesterday, and yet have been dull to some or all of them. I imagine some of the people who passed by me yesterday were completely unaware of the fountain’s gurgle or the grassy carpet beneath them. How often we hear but neglect to listen. How often things pass before our eyes that we fail to really see.

My experience in the park could have, would have been completely different had my heart not been engaged—my sixth sense. Or if my heart were not made gloriously and miraculously alive by Christ. It is this sixth sense, this heart alive, that allows my experience in the body to transcend my senses. Beyond what I can feel, hear, smell, see, and taste, there is a whole other realm…the realm of the spirit, the realm of the eternal. What enables me to find so much enjoyment in the simple things of a park is that I know that there’s nothing at all simple about the way leaves draw life from the sun or the way lilacs know when to bloom each Spring, and yet I have a personal relationship with the One who created them. It’s one thing to view and appreciate a masterpiece, but it’s quite another to be intimate with the Artist, to view the creation in light of the Creator.

If my heart is my sixth sense, then it follows that my sense of place in this world is directly affected by the state of my heart at any given moment. Is my heart at peace? Is there joy in my heart? Contentment? Thankfulness? Praise? Wonder? Or is it ridden with anxiety? Doubt? Resentment? Exhaustion?

The phrase “sensory overload” exists for a reason. If we were not able to block out certain aspects of our environment in any given moment, we’d go mad. But I wonder if we gave more thought to our sixth sense, allowed it to get a little exercise, if it might grow stronger with time, allowing us to more fully experience our world without being overwhelmed by it.

I was just thinking.

No comments: