First, a quote from my most recent encounter with Moltmann, reflecting on the presence of God in all things. He writes of the experience of God in the future and, to an extent, now:
“The sight of God leads to fruitio Dei, the full enjoyment of God. It is not only the eyes which are blessed with the perception of what was hidden; it is all the senses, with which the presence of God is tasted, felt, smelled, heard and seen, so that God will be “all in all.” In this way an eternal blessedness comes into being in the eternal life. The eternal blessedness comes about when the whole pleroma or fullness of deity opens itself. That transcends earthly happiness through continually new delight and through never-ending jubilation.” (from Sun of Righteousness, Arise, 185)
A powerful vision. Though likely not Moltmann's primary intent, it kind of inspired me to consider where the glory, beauty, intelligence, creativity, and the presence of God can be discovered and enjoyed. I find this task particularly easy in light of the coming of spring.
Below are some of the recent stimulations of the senses, brought on by the advent of spring. They are in no particular order. Other than the order in which they came to mind. So, then, in that order:
1) The SOUND of ducks. I spent about a half hour feeding twelve ducks one slice of whole wheat bread. I had fun testing their bravery by throwing the pieces increasingly closer to where I was sitting; I also enjoyed finding the ones who were getting bullied and making sure they got their fair share. And I enjoyed, of course, their melodious quacks.
2) The SMELL of bark dust. I’ve passed several spots with recently-laid bark dust as people are once again attending to their landscape. Amazing scent!
3) The TASTE of cheesecake. A spring sensation in that it’s my preferred birthday desert, which occurs at the outset of the new season. My wife made me some for my birthday—seriously some of the most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever tasted.
4) The FEEL of warmth. It’s so nice to occasionally walk outside and feel warmth, and to sleep with the window cracked from time to time.
5) The SIGHT of daylight late into the evening. I think I’m in a more joyful, grateful, contented, and dreamy mood with longer days. Testimonies of friends familiar with Alaskan life suggest there’s something to that.
6) The SMELL of fresh-cut grass. I love the scent, and it reminds me of golfing, summer yard work, and parks. Very nostalgic smell.
7) The SOUND of seagulls. I’m not really sure whether or not seagulls migrate, but I’ve noticed them more recently, as the occasional gull flies up to the west side of Olympia from the bay below. Might just be that I’ve been outside more.
8) The SOUND of Mariners’ discussion on sports radio. My wife can confirm that I’m as giddy as can be with opening day only five days away. She actually got me tickets to their home opener in a couple of weeks as a birthday gift. I’m an unrelenting optimist, and the beginning of a new season always brings a lot of hope. And after one of the worst offensive seasons ever last year, they can only do better. I hope.
9) The SIGHT of color on trees. Pink’s not my favorite color, but I’ve noticed it a lot while running recently past the dogwoods lining the streets. Can’t wait to see my Grandma’s lilacs in a few weeks!
10) The SMELL of my car! With spring has come spring cleaning, including the removal of trash, filth, and a slightly moldy smell from my car. After some heavy scrubbing and disinfecting, I placed several dryer sheets strategically on the floor so that my vents would spread the smell throughout the car. My car now smells like clean clothes.
11) The TASTE of Green Curry. The new season has meant something of a transitional time at EF Evergreen, with the arrival of a number of new students and an exodus of many others. One of my departing students from Thailand, who is a magnificent cook, gave me a going-away gift of homemade green curry. WOW it was amazing. Student departures are always a bit bittersweet; being cooked authentic international cuisine helps keep it “sweet.”
12) The FEEL of bare feet on sandals. When summer comes, I rarely wear shoes, opting instead for flip-flops. It’s not really consistently warm enough for sandals, but I did enjoy a sandal day last Friday. Sandal morning, actually. It started pouring while I was out in the afternoon, and my feet got wet.
13) The SIGHT of bugs in the house. This would also make my “worsts” list, except the return of bugs in a strange way feels like the homecoming of old friends.
14) The TASTE of seafood. Seafood feels more like a spring/summer food to me. Had some amazing Salmon Fish and Chips the other day at a local brew pub. Amazing. Bought cheap tilapia at Safeway and cooked it a couple times and a couple different ways. Not amazing. Either I don’t know how to cook tilapia, or it’s simply cheap fish.
15) The SIGHT of water. Spring means the beginning of more frequent excursions, and in this area there are some beautiful bodies of water. Capitol Lake is gorgeous in the sunlight. Bellingham Bay was beautiful on a recent trip there. The Puget Sound was lovely this past weekend on a day trip to Seattle.
16) The SMELL of Bath and Body soap. New spring line-up of soaps! Just stocked up this weekend, with new spring scents such as Island Margarita and Dancing Waters! (My apologies to anyone who considers himself a “man’s man” and expects the same attitude/demeanor of others. I’m sorry I’ve let you down.)
17) The FEEL of my wife’s fist. She’s recently entered a “punchy” phase, where I occasionally get smacked in the shoulder for teasing her or making a snide remark. I can only assume this is just part of Joann’s spring experience, given the timing. Like blooming flowers.
18) The SIGHT of people. It’s fun to drive by a park and see people out. Many understandably go into a bit of hibernation in the winter months and seem to get out more as the days get warmer. I guess it just makes me feel a stronger sense of community to see families out playing.
19) The SMELL of barbecue. We haven’t done it yet (don’t have a barbecue anyway), but our neighbors have. One of many nostalgic sensations listed here.
20) The SOUND of rain outside. Rain is nothing new, but sleeping with our window cracked is, and listening to rain is a very soothing way to drift off to sleep.
It's good for me to stop and smell the roses. It also feels worthwhile to thank God for the capacity I have to experience those roses like I do; to be able to so deeply and richly experience creation, with a variety of senses that make the world around me feel not simply like a machine but a kind of paradise—or at least a world laden with glimpses of it.