On Sensual Spirituality

My wife often asks interesting questions. Lately, she has been asking people “What is a smell you associate with your childhood?” I knew my own answer right away. Whenever I smell cigar smoke, I immediately see my Uncle Gaddy, a rough Irish fireman whom I loved a great deal. It’s a comforting smell.

Sadly, the Catholicism of my youth gave bodies and senses a bad reputation, primarily because sensuality was equated with sexuality. I’ve come to see, though, that not only are our senses a gift but that sensual experience can be significantly spiritual.

Take smell, for instance. I often burn frankincense in my office. It’s a sacred smell for me, evoking memories of midnight Easter Mass. I have no doubt but that some music is of God. Some might even say that music is the Voice of God. I hear that voice not only when Pavarotti intones Ave Maria but when a bagpipe transports me with Amazing Grace. Touch, too, can be spiritual not only through the ecstasy of sexual touch but through the comfort of a grandchild’s hug. Both touches can give us a glimpse of a loving God. What of taste? Can that be sacred? Can’t the taste of fresh spring water be spiritually uplifting? Finally, I believe I have had glimpses of God through such visual experiences as an unexpected herd of deer or seeing Dali’s Last Supper.

El Gallo in the musical The Fantastiks issues an invitation, “Celebrate sensation!” he says. So it should be with our senses. They should not be viewed as an impediment to reaching the Divine but rather a doorway. Indeed, celebrate sensation!

Reflection: Can you identify any impactful spiritual experiences tied to your senses?

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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3 Responses to On Sensual Spirituality

  1. richp45198 says:

    Wow! How beautiful! Yes, let’s celebrate sensation!!!
    Love, Pinzy

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  2. BJ says:

    The intoxicating aroma of honeysuckle in the latel spring always brings fond memories of my husband who would celebrate this harbinger of the summer ahead. The sweet smell of new mown grass takes me back to childhood and the very first days of warm weather. The wonderful and exciting breeze as you approach the seashore, the smell of Christmas Trees, the “piney” odor of the deep woods. all elicit such wondeful sensations for me!BJ

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  3. Roxanne says:

    I welcome the fall season with open arms because it is the only time that I am able to find pumpkin spice. That particular scent has a spiritual connection for me. I was recently asked at work to remove the candle…safety reasons I guess, and I didn’t understand why I felt sad. I think I felt sad because I felt seperated from my spiritual connection……fortunately there are other ways to remain close to source. The aroma of frankincense also evokes a deep spiritual connection. These don’t necessarily bring forth memories of childhood but they do bring forth memories of a new and wonderful life.

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