5 senses together

Journal entry by Loretta Beyer — March 15, 2021

As I look to complete my apparent mini-series about the five senses and turn to the blessing of taste, I was contemplating the difference between taste and smell and decided that we were given all of these senses in equal measure in order for them to complement each another.

Without an active avenue of smell, taste cannot reach its optimum level, because I have met several people for whom they say that is true. Without the one fully functioning, the other is usually compromised, and true, full enjoyment cannot be attained by the other as satisfactorily.

Think about when you are hungry for lunch, you walk into your kitchen and smell something like a lovely bowl of chicken noodle soup or a tuna salad or freshly baked bread and how very much that serves to release the salivary glands and so heighten the anticipation of that first bite, which is invariably followed by some such muffled but indistinct exclamation as “yum,” or “divine!” The pleasure on their Richter scale is so much greater because of the dual influence.

Our bodies are so amazingly adaptable that, when one sense is handicapped, such as possibly being hearing impaired, the others will come around it and hone the others to a fine skill, where they can both function in a manageable way and make life not only still possible but fruitful.

There is a book written by Paul Brand and co-authored by Philip Yancey entitled “Pain — the Gift Nobody Wants.”

Dr. Brand spent many years as a hand surgeon in India, where he did extensive practice and research among the community of ostracized lepers and where he made the fascinating discovery that the reason so many patients in that colony suffered so was not their ability to feel pain, but, rather, not to experience pain. Whenever their nose, legs, digits, etc., would become inflamed and eventually fall off, it was due to the reason that they were not given the heads-up warning signal of pain. Had they done so, much could have been prevented and perhaps cured.

Not many people who would read the title of that book would be moved to pick it and read it through, but it was fascinating to me and has many other life applications.

I say give thanks for all different tastes, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” One can very much expand our enjoyment horizons, while the other can warn us of spoiled, rotten, and decayed food that could release toxic bacteria and such diseases as food poisoning, stomach flu, etc.

Another aspect I am reminded of is that, unless we actually feel, smell, taste, see, or hear a particular thing, how can we possibly fully enjoy or make a judgment until we have had a personal encounter with it? What brings back childhood memories for one might create a negative reaction for another.

I doubt you could ever again coax me into digging into a bowl full of brussels sprouts, fried okra or eggplant, a tin of sardines, or a plateful of sauerkraut, not only because of its smell but because of the previous tastes I recall.

I have mentioned that taste is usually associated with a former or current relationship, relative, experience, childhood connection, etc. I just asked a friend what her favorite tastes were, and she replied that, having grown up in the Chesapeake Bay area, on top of her list was any fresh seafood, such as oysters, crab, or salmon, all of which triggered happy memories of her grandpa, who was a fisherman and her dad a fine connoisseur of fish, and Key lime pie, compliments of her aunt in Florida.

One other thought before closing is the term “sixth sense,” which is defined in the English Language Learners book as “a special ability to know something that cannot be learned in terms of normal perception.”

That is a term often bandied about that has true meaning and falls along the intuitive line of reasoning. Food for thought!

I thoroughly encourage each one of you to savor the tastes you experience today and always and include with that the magnificent orchestra of our five (six) senses that make our whole lives come alive.

No longer take any of that for granted and thank God for His multiple gifts in that arena.

Psalm 34:8: “O taste, and see that the Lord is good.”

Psalm 19:10: “… more are they (the Lord’s commandments) to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter also than the honey in the honeycomb.”

I Peter 2:3: “… now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

This column is published posthumously with permission from the family. Missionary kid Loretta Beyer grew up in Zimbabwe. After graduating college in the U.S. with a degree in music and psychology, she joined her parents in Alpena, because of terrorist warfare in her African home. Over the last 40 years, she has made Alpena her place of ministry.


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