I was recently asked how we can “turn down the noise” in our lives so we can better notice God around us. What I don’t think we actually do is listen to the noise. How often do we pause to notice the sounds coming into our ears? The sights and colors entering our eyes? The scents entering our nostrils? It’s this kind of awareness that’s key to an Ignatian spiritual life. St. Ignatius would call this an “application of the senses,” in which we open up awareness to our five senses.
My three-month-old daughter is a constant reminder of how often I don’t engage my senses. She is constantly looking around at her world: at air-conditioning vents, at light bulbs, at the leaves on the trees, at her feet. She’s fascinated by the texture of her new plush turtle. And when we go on a walk, she sticks out her tongue when the breeze blows by her face. When was the last time you tasted the breeze? Jesus told us that children might be the wisest among us (Matthew 18:1–5). They remind us that the world is a wonderous place.
For my infant, the noise is not something she wants to get rid of. Instead, she engages with it. She notices it, hears it, tastes it—savors it. Applying our senses invites us not just to perceive, but to engage. It’s the difference between seeing and noticing, hearing and listening, tasting and savoring. The noises many refer to are the sounds of everyday life. Why not pay attention to them? What are they calling us to? Can God not use them to communicate with us? If my child could speak, she might tell us that yes, these wondrous things around her are distracting, but that our eyes are blinded to their wonder. We must return to our child eyes and notice the astonishing beauty of God’s creation. The first step to finding God in all things is tasting the breeze.
I was recently introduced to Examen through a Kingdom Identity class at our church.
Fancy seeing you here..lol
I love how you describe this through the eyes of an infant. My 16 month old granddaughter is fascinating to watch. Her curiosity and willingness to fearlessly explore the unknown. Her first experience with snow…how fast those little legs can take her from one curiosity to the next…it does open my eyes in a new way to the beauty she sees and the beauty I see. My 8 year old granddaughter was mesmerized by the dusting of snow on the trees and exclaimed “Mooma have you ever seen so much snow?! Isn’t this just beautiful?!” To hear her being so descriptive really opened my eyes! Another eye opener was listening to her describe the moon as the Cheshire Cat following us home.
Thank you. You brought up some beautiful examples.
Interesting article, Andy! Senses are there for a good purpose and your daughter used them wisely. I like it when a toddler, stops and look closely to something an adult hardly noticed, picking up ants, lost small buttons etc. These toddlers give us something to think about and look at the beauty around us. We need to appreciate.
I loved this!!! Yes our children are great teachers! I had an elderly aunt that told us kids thousands of times, “don’t forget to take time to smell the roses”. She only knew that as an old saying, but she was telling us the same thing as your child. Pay attention to the little things. Thank you so much for this reminder!
Sometimes noise drowns out everything. My hearing aids amplify every little sound which can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes I take them out so as to be able to concentrate and to listen to the small still voice. However I am delighted that your daughter is investigating, testing, tasting everything. God is there in every breath of air. Blessings on you and your family
A lovely article. To see things through the eyes of a child. What did Jesus say? “Unless we become as little children…..
Thank you. All senses are now attuned!. A.M.D.G.
I was engaged in the first sentence. What a “refreshing” article! As I go about my day I will pay attention to the everyday noises in a world that is given us as gift….and to ‘taste the breeze’! It certainly is a wonderful World.. Many thanks, Andy
I agree with Marlene, great thought “taste the breeze”
Thanks. I loved this article. You can tell (I think) it was inspired by experiencing the presence of God through his daughter. How wonderful!
Andy, I will remember to “taste the breeze” as I go about my day today. Thank you.