We engage the world with our five senses, they are our window of perception on reality, so we rely on them to interpret our everyday experience. These senses don’t function because we’ve turned them on – they’re up and running, collecting data at all times, whether we’re aware of them or not. When we make them our focus, we tune into what they’re offering us – because we’ve learned to trust them. But what of our sixth sense – do we relate to it in the very same way?
The oft apocryphally referred to sixth sense, is the notion that somethings exist beyond the parameters of our five senses. So, for instance, when we’re moved by the beauty of a sunset, our response isn’t merely about the spectrum of light defuse in earth’s atmosphere; or when we are emotionally transported by a Mozart concerto, it isn’t simply because the notes have been arranged in a certain order, along a certain meter. That in fact such evocative experiences aren’t about the visual/ auditory physical properties of these events, but rather it’s part of a hardwired design within us to recognize that events like these are more than the sum of their parts – that reality has other layers of perception . . . that our five senses alone aren’t calibrated to detect – but our hearts are.
This is our Father’s world, embedded with the meaning, purpose, and significance that he intends. It is God’s intention that we be in relationship with him – that we would know him. This isn’t merely a cognitive knowing, like one may know history or algebra. Think about it – our being a repository of facts and formulas about our loved ones isn’t what drives our relationship with them. A relational knowing of someone is far more intimate and intuitive, and is as much about the intangible as the tangible – in this way relational knowing has more in common with our sixth sense than it does the other five.
It is an invisible God who has designed us to be in relationship – so all of creation points back to him. Everywhere we go, everything we do, by design our senses are meant to detect and entreat his presence. Being omnipresent isn’t just a clever trick God can do – it’s how he abides with us . . . and we abide with him. So the whole of our lives is an invitation to partake of the sacrament of God’s presence – an intimate relational knowing of him.
A 17th century Carmelite monk, engaged in the monotony of his scullery duties, becomes aware of God’s presence in the midst of his extraordinarily unremarkable life. So Brother Lawrence begins to write letters to his brother, which are later compiled into the Christian classic “Practicing the Presence of God”. It is a thin volume employing a simple eloquence, reminding us of the accessibility of our relationship with God. When our hearts are tuned and focused on God we can trust that he is present, we can truly know him as our Abba Father, and he can make our lives a sacred place where others might come to know him . . . as they come to know us.
Here’s a song from a CD I produced for my brother Jeff years ago – it never fails to move me in the way it so beautifully reminds me of how life is a sacrament.