The Sights, Sounds, Smells, Tastes, & Touches That Bring Us Joy

Photo credit: Allie Buckmaster for

The following article was published in the December edition of Faith: West Tennessee, the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. Click here for info on subscribing to the print edition of FWT.

In the beginning, God looked at everything he created, culminating in humanity, and called it very good (cf. Gen. 1:31). “Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word” (CCC 2500). These truths of divine revelation mean that all of human history is the unfolding of God’s effort to have a deep and fulfilling relationship with every part of His creation, especially human beings. Because of His desire for such a relationship, God provides innumerable little “winks” that allow us to encounter Him more deeply and experience joy.

Here is but a small list of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches that bring joy into my life and remind me of God’s ultimate beauty. The sound of fresh-brewed coffee being poured into a mug in the morning. The scent of a glass of Old Vine Zinfandel to go along with dinner. The sight of a summer sunset in west Tennessee. The scent of real gingerbread baking during the holiday season. The sight of Christmas lights decorating and illuminating houses and neighborhoods. The sound of a baby jabbering and learning to talk. The hug of a child after a long day of work. The caress of my beloved wife, reminding me of her tender care.

Our faith teaches us that “every tangible element of creation from the natural environment to human persons provides an opportunity to encounter something of God’s presence.”[i] This means that the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of this world are pathways by which we can be open to, and filled with, the ultimate truth, goodness, and beauty of God. Each sensual experience can lead us to a deeper encounter with the eternal God. We simply have to be ready to recognize such a reality in our daily happenings.

Advent has begun, and Advent makes a fantastic time to let the things of this world open us to the fuller beauty of God. Don’t just look at the Advent wreath at your parish, and then move on. Realize that the Advent wreath is crafted in a circle, crafted from evergreen trees. Let this help you realize that God and His love are eternal; and that His truth and love are ever ancient, ever new. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart more to the enlightening and warm love of Jesus Christ. Don’t just go looking at Christmas lights. While you do that, ask Jesus to make your soul (your “spiritual house”) more beautiful. Don’t just bite into that gingerbread cookie and move on. Ask our Blessed Lord to let you taste more of His goodness each and every day. These will be the ways that you can acknowledge God’s little “winks” each and every day. So, let’s open ourselves to joy by these little “signs and wonders” (Acts 14:3) of everyday life. Come, Lord Jesus!

[i] “Sacramentality” accessed at Gannon University website: <;

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