"Taste and see that God is good" the psalmist writes in Psalm 34, verse 8 (a book located toward the middle of the Bible). We recently sang this psalm during worship, and the words have been swirling through my mind on repeat ever since.
The psalmist's invitation is multisensory. It involves both tasting and seeing. It's an embodied directive — not something we can do exclusively in our heads but instead something that involves our bodies and specifically our mouths and eyes.
There are a multitude of translations of the Bible; they are different ways of interpreting the original Greek and Hebrew words. The Message translation of the Bible puts Psalm 34:8 this way: "Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see — how good God is."
Spirituality isn't a head-only exercise. We bring our whole selves to the cosmic table of God, which is exactly as it should be.
I imagine the author of the Psalm would have no problem with people using the rest of their senses in encountering God as well. Hearing. Smelling. Touching/feeling.
We can taste, see, hear, smell and feel that God is good.
As human beings, we are heart and head. We have eyes, ears, noses, mouths and nerve-endings. We have a multitude of senses — a plethora of ways in which we are capable of experiencing the goodness of God. All of them are beautiful and valuable.
We live life with our whole bodies, and we experience our creator with our whole bodies, too.
I didn't know that I could experience God's goodness with my whole body until I was in seminary. I unintentionally had limited the means through which I could have spiritual experiences. I thought they only could happen if I prayed and closed my eyes. I didn't know that church, worship and devotion could involve all my senses. It was and remains a life-changing realization.
As families of faith and communities of every religious tradition, we have the opportunity to expand the spiritual palate of the people we serve. It takes work, time and experimentation to weave all the senses into worship, but it's worth it.
It's similar to walking through life with a single crayon and then miraculously being handed a box of 64 different colored writing utensils. Faith communities have the opportunity, honor and responsibility to empower people to utilize their own full boxes of colors.
Congregational worship isn't the only space where we can use all of our senses to explore God's goodness. We can use our whole bodies to dialogue with the divine anywhere and everywhere.
The next time you're drinking a cup of coffee (or other beverage of choice), sip it slowly. Let it roll around your tongue. Taste.
Wake up early and drive or walk to a spot where you can view the sunrise. Notice the pinks and blues and majesty of it all. See.
Find some peppermint essential oil or another scent you enjoy and invite your nose to savor the moment. Smell.
Start your morning by listening to a song you love. Notice the notes and voices and rhythms. Listen.
Wash your hands. Feel the bubbles of the soap and the warmth of the water. Then pay attention to the sensation of the towel soaking up the droplets of liquid. Touch.
Closing our eyes tightly and listening to the prayers of a pastor isn't the only way to encounter the love of God. We can experience the goodness of the creator through all of our senses anytime.
This life is a multisensory experience; our spirituality and worship can incorporate our whole selves, too.