Lent is almost over. You can smell it. The advanced perfume of the last flowers of summer are giving way to a different aroma, as the deciduous plants start to change their colours in readiness for loss. You can smell it in the air, as the winds start to pick up blowing the smells from the corners of the compass at blustery and irregular intervals.
So, for me it is appropriate that this week’s reading has me experiencing scent through its words. God gave me/us the magnificent scents of the world around me, and in this passage, we have the gift returned, a selfless, expensive gift that no matter who received it, everyone would be enveloped in it.
Now there was a time when I would have thought about the exegesis of this text in a very traditional manner, but Sean Winter introduced me to a book by Elvey(1) when he was supervising a piece on the Martha and Mary narratives and it changed the way that I accessed passages. Yes, Elvey exegesis in a traditional format, but in an unconventional way, through the senses, and in looking at metaphor and Symbolism reminds us of the very basic way we access and decipher the text. That we bring ourselves, and our senses to the experience.
As a teacher, these ideas shone a light into my understanding of learning, that we learn with all our senses (2). I see children, explore with their whole being, But I have not forgotten as an adult to use or access all my senses, I think I am so familiar to them being there that they become background noise, or we would not need the practice of Mindfulness to become acquainted with them. Each morning, my Yoga practice, requires me to be attentive to the sounds around me and then to “let them go”.
If I fail to bring my senses to today’s reading, I might only hear of the Treasurers displeasure, I might only hear of Jesus’s rebuff which resonates more soundly the further from the cross we travel. But if I bring my sense of smell, I resonate with the story, I know what it is like to be enveloped in scent, I access, my imagination, I form a multi-dimensional scene, and the story becomes personal. In relearning to use all my senses, I am returning to the ways of the child and I am growing in faith, I am connecting across time in a very human way, and I am preparing for the end of Lent and mystery of Easter.
(1) The matter of the text : material engagements between Luke and the five senses / Anne F. Elvey.
Publisher: Sheffield, England : Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011