Have you ever brushed your teeth with hotel soap? Not good! Last month, we were in Baton Rouge attending a function, and when we went to our room that evening, we discovered that we had forgotten to bring toothpaste. So, I proceeded to brush with soap. My taste buds rebelled. It reminded me of the time parents washed their kids’ mouths out with soap because of talking ugly. Another thought came to me: I should be thankful that my taste buds are still working. Imagine going through the Christmas season without being able to taste anything.
On other bit of foolishness before I get a little serious. You’ve heard of “foot in mouth disease” I’m sure. So, I dedicate the following poem to those who’ve done that:
Words come out “yuck”,
When feet do obstruct,
To put them in mouth,
Seems strangely my luck.
But life would be neat,
And pleasantly sweet,
But O how tasteless,
To chew on my feet.
I recommend J. Brent and Booram’s book Awaken Your Senses. They remind us that we live too much out of our head and not enough out of our bodies. We can fail to connect our faith to the other senses, such as tasting, smelling, feeling, seeing and hearing. Hear the Word is important, but an encounter with God comes in many other ways as well. We can be overly informed and under transformed. “O taste and see that the Lord is good,” said the Psalmist in chapter 34, verse 8. When mindfulness accompanies other senses, it is possible to live fully every moment of life. Our five senses are special gifts from God, and this makes each day special.
The mind has a way of drifting off because of head-chatter, and we miss the present moment. Bringing your mind to focus on one thing at a time will help you experience God even in the mundane and commonplace things we do. You can be so pre-occupied or worried about something that you can miss tasting an entire meal, and not even know what you’ve eaten. Or, you can be introduced to someone and not remember their name because you didn’t pay attention.
There’s an old saying: “While washing the dishes, one should only be washing the dishes.” Mindfulness brings us to the “now”, so we can savor each event in life. Richard Rohr says, “All of life is sacramental and a means of grace.” It seems to me that the real miracle is not to walk on water, but to walk on Earth, fully aware and awake to the blessings of life. Some call this the “sacrament of the present moment”, and it helps us to focus and concentrate on the things of value. We can be so scattered in our busy thoughts that we can hardly hear the small, still voice.
Dan Rather interviewed Mother Teresa once, and asked her what she said when she spoke to God in prayer. She responded that she just listened. Rather was surprised by her answer and then asked, “Well, then, what does God say?” She smiled and answered softly, “He listens.” “Be still and know that I am God,” said the Psalmist. I believe this is the reason Jesus entered history; to teach us about living fully, loving deeply and forgiving freely. If Christmas has an enduring message, it is found not in a stable surrounded by animals, however beautiful that may be, but in the “abundant life” that Jesus proclaimed, so that we could feel, hear, smell, see and taste that, indeed, “the Lord is good.” Amen.