Welcome to the Taste and See: Experiencing God with Our Senses online retreat. 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.
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.
Thank you for this great reflection. These past two month, because I fractured both my feet and being unable to move around, I was able to sit at my front door in a wheel chair and appreciate what I was seeing in my garden. After four weeks when I was able to venture outside into my garden, I would sit under a canopy and observe my beautiful flowers gently swaying in the breeze, I was able to appreciate the birds flying in and out of the hedges, the ever elusive cardinals building their nests, the rabbit chomping on the clover and the chipmunks darting in and out of the vegetation. I never really knew how much life existed in my backyard because all these years I was so busy tinkering in my yard. It took two broken feet to stop me in my tracks and really and truly appreciate what God set before me in my own back yard.
So that’s why I placed the statues of Our Lady of Knots, St. Pio and the Infant Jesus of Prague in the corner of my small room, so that when I the quiet comes, I can direct my attention to them. I didn’t have any idea when I placed them there that that’s that purpose it would serve.
Thanks for the insight!
I am reminded of a story of a farmer, when asked by his parish priest what he does daily in front of the Blessed Sacrament, said: ” I gaze at HIM and HE gazes at me.”
Exactly what I find myself in when the quiet moment comes. I gazing at Him and He gazing at me.”
Thank you for such deep and refreshing approach to prayer, to life!
Love this website! Helps we focus on what’s important in my life, God, Family, my church community!
Thanks for providing these daily reflections for us!😇