I will now be smelling everything.
Well, not everything. But I will be holding fruit, spices, vegetables, herbs, tea, coffee, bread, bowls of yogurt and granola… and certainly wine …up to my nose.
If I learned anything from Gisela Kreglinger’s beautiful wine tasting hosted by the Denver Institute for Faith & Work, it is that we tragically under-utilize and under-appreciate our senses, especially our sense of smell.
Gisela asked a question early on in her presentation, given prior to our extended wine tasting. She phrased it as such, “Are you a finder, or a maker?”
Often I take the word “maker” to be a positive thing—that is, being innovative and one that takes initiative to craft or create. But I don’t think this is the sort of thing to which Gisela was referring. In her comparison, to be a “maker” is to impose oneself on God’s creation. A finder, then, is one who works with God—one who discovers the rich beauty and goodness already inherent in all that God has made.
A finder strolls thoughtfully through the woods, taking in the rich aroma of leaves fermenting on the forest floor, just beneath one’s feet. A finder is one who truly does stop to smell the roses, and in doing so finds joy is there.
A finder is one who comes to a glass of wine not merely as an alcoholic beverage, but beholding the sheer and vast mystery that is beauty contained in a single cup.
A finder holds that glass. Swirls it. Plunges nose in, breathing deeply. And repeats.
A finder allows things to speak for themselves, to be what they are in all their grandiose—even subtle—magnificence. For this is what much of the world’s beauty is. Subtle. Yes, we can travel to remote islands, mountain valleys, and waterfalls to experience examples of vast, audacious beauty. Such sights certainly inspire wonder, and draw us closer to our Creator.
But what about wonder today? What about wonder as I sit down, eating breakfast before I take the bus to work? Where is wonder here?
It’s in the local peach I sliced to top my yogurt. It’s in the bright, ripe-red organic strawberries—the kind that actually smell like strawberries—joining the symphony. It’s the nutty-fragrant granola topping it all off. It’s the creamy, tangy, earthy-nutty sweetness that mingles upon the nose even prior to the tongue’s tasting (if nose is plunged into bowl).
Wonder is here. It is in the ordinary, everyday things.
Behold! The wonders of Creation: God has gifted to us milk and cultures, which can be united and then strained to produce yogurt. He has gifted us incredulous varieties of fruit, which dance together in gorgeous pairs—Western-mountain-sun-ripened peach and shameless, vulnerable strawberries. He has gifted us with numerous grains, seeds, and nuts, which—when married with a mixture of oil and honey and matured by oven warmth—produce nutty-sweet aromas and a satisfying crunch to the palate.
All of this commingled in a bowl—yogurt, fruit, and granola, by another name—this is wonder. God’s sheer goodness to us. Strawberries are completely unnecessary. Life is not contingent upon the existence of peaches. Milk would still be useable without cultures—but then, even milk is not a necessity. Grains, seeds, and nuts can be used for many things—what makes the combination called “granola” a must?
Add to all this ontology the markers of such beingness. Again, it’s the aromas. The flavors and textures. It is all unnecessary and utter gift.
More, it is an invitation. An invitation to glory in our Good Giver. To find fullness of joy in his presence (Ps. 16:11). Yes, indeed. And to do so in all of our comings and goings.
For we are in his presence at the breakfast table. We are in his presence on the bus to work (or commuting on the highway, or walking down the hall to the home office). And in addition to his very presence, we have his fingerprints all around us. The goodness with which he has indwelled his creation.
So how might we go about our day-to-day lives—breakfast, work, lunch, meeting, commute, dinner, chores, family/friend time—with eyes open (and noses sniffing, ears listening, tongue tasting, hands feeling) for wonder?
By answering our Lord’s invitation to be finders. By slowing down and using the gifts of our senses to experience and know him more. To bring him glory. We engage his beautiful, waiting creation to be finders.
Finders of gift.
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This post was published August 24, 2017
Jessica Schroeder is a contributor to the DIFW blog. She is a Master’s student of Theology at Denver Seminary and holds a B.S. in Theology with a concentration in Biblical Studies, which she earned alongside a minor in Worship Arts. Enthused by the statement “everything is theological,” she endeavors to live into this truth each day, as well as to write about it. Jessica also blogs for The Institute for Faith, Work and Economics and her own blog, Slowing to Wonder.