Welcome to the Taste and See: Experiencing God with Our Senses online retreat. Each Monday we’ll explore one of the senses as a way to encounter God. We begin with the sense of sight.
Our sight is a gift, one that we use nearly every waking moment of the day. We take in so much with our eyes: traffic lights, the dishes on the kitchen counter, the blinking cursor on the computer screen, the leaves changing on the trees outside the office. Try to count everything that has crossed your line of vision in the space of an hour, and it’s an impossible task.
Some of these things we barely notice; they dance outside our peripheral vision. Others we focus on solely out of obligation, like that paperwork for the insurance company or the water boiling on the stove.
But in a quiet moment, when our time is our own, what do we choose to look at? When we are free to turn our eyes where we wish, what do we select as the object of their gaze? And do those sights renew us?
In our media-saturated world, we have many options about what to look at, and not all of it refreshes our souls. I’ll admit to my own weakness here: I spend more time than I care to admit looking at online sale items or following updates on social media. This is fine up to a point, but the fact is that I often end up feeling more restless than satisfied by what I’ve seen. So there is something to be said for making our visual life an intentional part of our prayer. When we have a little bit of quiet time in the evening, in the morning, or at a lunch break, it can be helpful to take a few moments gazing at something that makes us feel centered.
Maybe that something is a lighted candle, wavering and dancing to its own rhythm. Maybe it’s a photo of a loved one whose life is an integral part of our own. Maybe it’s a book of photography that celebrates the beauty of the natural world. Maybe it’s a picture of Jesus, Mary, or one of the saints, reminding us of the faith that provides a framework for our lives. Looking at something with intention is a powerful form of prayer. In the act of gazing, we get to focus deeply on one thing, savoring its presence and quieting our hearts. We notice little details about a beloved object that we didn’t know before. And we are reminded that God puts many beautiful things before our eyes, constantly inviting us to see them—and God himself—in a new light.
Begin. Center yourself. Take three deep breaths and open yourself to God’s presence.
Give thanks. Thank God for the gift of sight and for the world full of wonders that lie before our eyes.
Review. Think over the last day. Identify some of the things you saw. Which ones did you look at only because you had to? Which ones did you choose to look at and gaze upon? Which ones left you feeling most centered and fulfilled?
Think of the images or decorations you have hanging on the walls of your home. Choose two of your favorites. Why are they there? Do they inspire you or comfort you? Are they visual reminders of precious parts of your identity or life experiences? Take some time to reflect on what these images say about you and about God’s plan for you.
Look ahead. Tomorrow, make yourself more conscious of what you choose to look at and why.
Take some time each day this week to sit and gaze at something that inspires you or comforts you. Slow your breathing and be present in the moment. Imagine God watching you and taking delight in your enjoyment of his creation.
Don’t miss any of the posts in this retreat series. Subscribe to dotMagis to receive posts in your inbox. Go more in-depth with the themes of this retreat by reading Ginny Kubitz Moyer’s book Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses.