Coming to my Senses
Well, now I know why I have a body. It’s for pleasure. Don’t get me wrong. This is a good thing. When I say that I remark on the notable things which pass though our five senses. They underline God’s observations about the physical world when he ordered it into being. God made the world and he saw that it was good.
My particular thing this morning is the isolation of one sense. Just like when blind people suddenly note an attenuated sense of smell or hearing, it’s instructive to sometimes focus on one particular sensation. This morning I passed by that little mister my wife has on the hall table by the front door, and clicked it on without really thinking. It deals with cooking smells in the house by infusing the air with the fragrance of essential oils.
The main level soon was filled with the wonderful scent of lavender. We got some lavender oil from a farm not far from us last summer. It’s amazing that so much effort and science is brought to bear, harvesting a few drops of oil from an enormous amount of plant material. The machinery is of a Frankenstein lab and it is premised to impress which may be why they encourage visits to the farm. Seeing it somehow justifies the cost.
Lavender is not too sickly sweet, or artificial. It is a unisex scent because there is not much to dislike about it. At the farm we purchased a few spray bottles of what is distilled from the steam, after the system of glass tubes and boilers has done its work on the plants. The oil drips down one little tube and the vapour from the steam collects on the other side. The oil and water have different properties, but both are nice. The distillation is great to spray on fresh laundry, or to freshen up a room. The oil can be used topically and is good for anxiety, insomnia, asthma, as an antiseptic, and an anti-depressant. I think I can relate to the last one because if I spritz some lavender in the room, it just makes me feel good. I fall asleep with its aroma on my pillow and feel all is right in the world. I am overwhelmed by the goodness of things enough to forget about my cares. It’s also cheap psychotherapy because it is reminds us of the beauty in the world we get for free.
A false dichotomy in the flow of Western thought tells us that the spirit is good, but the body is bad. This idea comes from Plato’s theory of forms. He imagined that for every given thing, there is a perfect version of it out there somewhere in concept. Such lofty thinking, separates the life of the spirit, from the life of the body. It taints our religious assumptions with gnostic tendencies that ignore the physical world in front of our own eyeballs. There are many beautiful gifts we are given in life to enjoy. Our best praise apprehends those real and present things all around us. The Bible says, that all of creation recognizes and proclaims God’s majesty.
My wife’s name translates as “aroma”. Two names in her family are derived from that same meaning. It explains why language is context, and why Arabic is famous for its poetry and its word play. I remember she said to me when we were courting, that if I took her home, her fragrance would fill the house. It has come to my attention here and there in thirty years of marriage, particularly when I stumble across something like an essential oil diffuser. It’s the woman stuff that men would never think to get. A lot of those fancy little touches make a house a home. They are the attention to detail that keeps beauty in mind, which is why women are far more perceptive than men, and maybe even why they live longer.