Tuesday, July 10, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, my son posed an interesting question as we were driving the long stretch between our two homes.

"Mom," he asked, "If you could have another sense--you know, like the five senses, only an extra--what would you want it to be?"

I asked for some time to think and he granted it. I was fascinated by how completely my initial thinking was limited to what I already knew. I understood hearing, sight and smell, taste and touch. What else could there be? The only other thing I could come up with at first was the ability to sense what other people are thinking--the traditional definition of ESP, extra-sensory perception. What a limited definition! Must it only apply to that one thing?

I had to think for a long time, but my son was patient, probably intrigued by the fact that I was taking his question so seriously, instead of the typical "Uh-huh, that's cool," or "Hmmm...that's interesting," that I so often throw to the back seat without really paying attention.

When I was finally able to push my brain beyond its usual limitations, I came up with two things instead of one. My son said that would be acceptable. First, I would like to be able to see music (still limited to one of the traditional five senses, I know, but at least it was a different use of it). I would like to be able to see the notes visually as they float in the air, see the soundwaves reverberate, watch as the complex harmonies intertwine.

I suppose I should just settle for learning to read music and finally learn to play an instrument. I can't do either one. I feel like there is music inside of me, that I could express so much through music, that it would bring me such joy, but I never learned anything past first grade xylophone, fourth grade recorder and children's choir at church. Old dog, new tricks--is there any hope for me?

The other thing I decided I would like to be able to do is to feel color. I know that reds and oranges are warm, that blues are cool, but brown and green are nurturing, like the earth. What would they feel like? What about yellow? It is the color associated with sunshine, but other than warm, what would it feel like? How would the same colors feel at different times of the day, depending on the light of the sun, or the cloud cover?

It was fun to think about these things, and my son thought my answers were interesting, even if they weren't really helpful to him. For him, it was just a brainstorming session for the latest superhero he was inventing in his mind to occupy some time during the long, boring drive. He was just looking for some free ideas. But for me, it went much deeper. It triggered a series of thoughts that have stuck with me since then.

This searching for something beyond what I know, beyond my current sphere of understanding, has been only enhanced and encouraged by a book I've been reading, Windows of the Soul, by Ken Gire. It is excellent, a rare, beautifully crafted read that must be taken in small bites and digested slowly, rather than gulped down noisily in my usual fashion. I will have to write more on the book later. I don't have it with me here at the library to accurately quote from it, and it is terribly quotable. The basic idea is that God's word can be heard throughout the earth, by the person listening for it; that the arts can be used by God to communicate His truth, to give us glimpses of the divine, to leave us hungry for more. It's really thought provoking. I'm loving it, and I think God has led me to it at just the right time in my life, when I was ready for it.

I am feeling the need, more and more, to be the person God has made me to be, to be fully alive, fully engaged in this life, experiencing the fullness of His grace and love and joy. I can hear the music, but I want to see it and even taste it, let it permeate my senses. I like the colors of the scenery around me when I am out enjoying the beautiful outdoors. They are indeed pretty even in the glare of mid-day, but just before sunset, when I'm walking with my daughter after dinner, the colors are so much more saturated, so rich and alive, virtually bursting with beauty beyond the capabilities of human language. The colors were there all along, but I didn’t know their fullness until I experienced them in the right light. I want to feel them, to know them intimately. I want to live in that kind of light.

I want more.


alison said...

Feeling it exactly.

Anonymous said...

Inteeresting. Paul Harvey told a story of a person who could sense everything with all five senses. In heaven maybe our senses will be like that! Your pursuit of being (all)the person god wants you to be is admirable. Go for it.
Uncle Ed

Dan said...

Beautiful post--sounds like this book might be a good one for me as well.

Regarding the intriguing part of your post, regarding your desire to feel colors and to see music, this made me think of those who have what is called synesthesia. A famous Russian composer, Scriabin, had synesthesia, where he could see colors when he heard music. He couldn't turn it off, and music for him was as much visual as it was aural, and his music compositions were informed by this attribute, and he would compose pieces with titles such as "The Poem of Ecstasy."

Then there was a guy on the Splendid Table, an NPR show on cooking, who could taste shapes--different flavors produced different feelings in his mind which completely changed his perception of food.

This is an interesting listen:


Dan said...

You know, my link didn't show up completely, and I'm not sure how to shorten the link in the comment form.

If you do a search for Splendid Table and synesthesia, it will come up as the first hit...if you're curious.

Jeannie said...

This post was lovely to read and savor. You have aptly described what I have been feeling and thinking for a while. This post captures for me what I could not articulate. We are kindred spirits in the depths of our souls. Thanks for taking the time to put words to this passion that also dwells within me.

Sherry C said...


You're welcome.

Eagle-eye Di said...

This was a beautiful post Sherry.I also sat here trying to visualize being able to actually see notes actually float and dance in mid air.Also to be able to feel color as it appears with be magnificint.Interesting thoughts that would be quite fascinateing to experience.