Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16ff
Anyway… I have a cold and I just realized yesterday that my sense of smell is almost nonexistent.
Every Friday, I refresh the lemon essential oil in my homemade diffuser. When I was doing this yesterday, as the drops were running down the skewers, I stuck my nose close. Then closer… When it was almost touching the jar, I could finally notice the lemon. Sigh. I hope Kay’s been able to enjoy the scent because it’s been wasted on me this week!
Going to Koreana for lunch was fun but I realized as I bit into a wild-caught shrimp that, although I could sense some spice and enjoy the different food textures, I couldn’t really notice the flavors to appreciate them.
Someone brought up “a dark night of the soul” in one of our study groups this week. I understand this as a time when God seems particularly far away. It may have some roots in mental illness (as is believed to have been the case with Methodist theologian Georgia Harkness) but not necessarily. As I understand it, the “dark night” experience is one that lasts for months or even years. And, it seems to me, it’s something that’d be experienced by people who’ve spent a lot of life in prayer. (If we’ve never worked on our God relationship, we’re not likely to notice a change in it.)
This is personal for me, and not just because I feel a tie to Georgia since I researched her life a few years ago. A few months ago, I noticed that I don’t feel God present with me as I have other times. I’m not sure how long it’d been this way but there’s definitely a difference. I keep praying, but it feels… hollow in a way that’s unfamiliar.
This morning – with Kay’s priming – I was struck with the idea that my not being able to smell might be similar to not sensing God. Are you ready? This might fall flat, but here goes.
I know the particles of lemon oil and the Korean barbeque are still floating about in the air nearby. I’m just temporarily unable to perceive them. Other people can smell them and enjoy them. It’s just that – for now – I can’t.
Similarly, I trust that God is still present. Other people, animals, trees, and rocks are aware of God, but not me. For now, I’m simply not sensitive to their* presence.
I hope this will change. I like “feeling” that God is near. In the meantime, I keep praying because I know as surely as I know anything that this is an awareness issue and not an absence.
* I’ve recently taken a page from millenials’ example of using the English language to serve their reality instead of adapting their world to fit the language. As God is not gendered, I claim the use of they and their for this non-gender-specific singular usage.