Making Sense of Things

Sensible, sensitive, sensational, sensitized, senseless . . . there are so many words that apply to our senses that are, after all, our antennae out to the world and into “the deep impenetrable interior” as Rudyard Kipling describes the inner world. So much hinges on how we relate with them and to them. I’m awed and baffled, but also know that to become more conscious of this is worth the effort.

Phrases Posted on Facebook, July 2022

We often see with haste and assessment, with like and dislike. Seeing, that wonderful sense we have been given, is reduced to a tool with which to manage life and serve ourselves. Of course, to be able to cross a street safely or decide matters that are important we need to see with assessment. But we need seeing to be so much more or we will be less than human. This is the ability to see with wonder, isn’t it?
Have you ever been looked at by a baby . . . no assessment there, just rapt attention without conclusions. To “baby gaze’ at least once a day is a holy enterprise. It lets
things be seen for themselves. Take trees, for instance. Baby gazed, they will not have to be pruned, or turned into lumber or profit. They will be beings to honor.
This is a wonderful way to make sense of things. Baby gazing lets us be human beings among other beings.
Four or more people seeing the same thing will report it differently, for don’t we all see with our own interpretations? Some things will be reported as similar and none of us will be able to see the whole thing. I want to remember that for it puts me “in my place” in a good way. I can state with conviction “the way I see” something and it will be personal and that will be a truthful statement. I can’t see any other way. It means that I own my assessment and how I make “sense” of things in the moment. It will never be the whole truth. How I see will always be colored by my mind. That is true for everyone and very humbling.
What a delight to see the word “ear” in the word “hear”. Hearing is another way to make sense of things. All of us know that to really hear we must lend ourselves to what is being said whether we like it or not. It is a great courtesy. When one is really heard some of the sting in wrongness is assuaged even though no action has yet been taken. The truth is that to have one’s voice stifled or to be deliberately deaf and not hear is a two-way stifle. All voices are needed in the end to make things sound (as in healthy).
In our worldly concerns and the pace of life now we need the discipline of listening deeply. Here is a definition from the Latin: obedience i.e. ab (deep) audience (hearing). We need that kind of listening to hear “the still small voice” in our depths and be guided by it.
These days much of what we hear is not the truth. Now it takes not just listening and mulling with our minds, but sensing with our guts what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Our senses, though specific in their functions, can work together. We can listen with our whole being and be more discerning. That takes ears, eyes, guts and hearts.
We say, “Stay in touch.”
We say, “He/she really has a touch.”
We say, “That really touched me.”
Touch is intimate. How we touch and are touched can make “sense” of things for us in wonderful ways or make us tremble in terror.
Babies do not develop well without human touch. It is as important to their well being as milk. We don’t outgrow skin-to-skin communication. It will always be important and a way to give and receive love. Making sense of it is knowing how touching with care and humility is a wonder-filled response-ability.
In football you can hear the crowd roar when there is a “touch down”. Two smiling guys might do a high five when one of them tells the other that he “scored”. Touch is not a game though. How we handle and make sense of things determines the outcome. Now more than ever it is crucial that we be in touch in order to handle with care what is ours to do to help the world be a livable place.
When we practice (for even a few minutes a day) to carefully and lovingly touch the things we use and the hands we hold, we will inadvertently grow in both gentleness and awareness. A new and delicate “sense” of things will be ours.
Smell and taste are senses that are deeply linked. We say that is “sweet of her” or “something really stinks”.  The sense of things often comes to us in very visceral ways.
We have intimations of realms beyond us when something smells heavenly or when something tastes divine. But when our senses of taste and small transport us into gratitude we know what it is to have heaven on earth.
Any one of our senses can make some sense of things that are close at hand, can absorb the beauty and the ugliness that is there, can be avenues of acceptance, can become means of discernment and grace.