What does it mean to “come to one’s senses”? One dictionary says, “to start thinking rationally,” another, “to begin to think in a sensible or correct way after being foolish or wrong.”
What if we just took it literally and decided simply to come from wherever we are “to our senses” and oriented ourselves to what our senses are telling us? Could coming to our five senses help us be more sensible or rational? I think so.
Have you noticed that your senses only operate in the present. They are no help for reflecting on the past or planning for the future. We try to visualize the future or vividly remember the past, but those aren’t actual sensations. When we come to our senses we are coming to the present. And that is often the first step toward sanity.
Most of our most painful problems lie in the past or in the future. Coming to our senses drags us for a moment away from those places of torment. Of the two the future is the most dangerous. You can easily provide your own reasons why this is the case.
In comparison, the present is pretty safe. CS Lewis says that the present is the most like eternity. It is in fact the point where time and eternity meet–moment by moment. And that is why the present is where we find God.
We can come to our senses anytime, anywhere. Just stop and look. Notice the color of something in your field of vision. Sniff the air. Lick your lips. Listen for a second. What do you hear? Feel the texture of the fabric stretched across your knee. Wiggle your toes in your shoe. Take a deep breath. Feel your rib cage swell and tighten.
Keep noticing for as long as you can. It won’t be long before your thoughts drag you to the future or the past. But for those few moments your senses gave you the gift of the present and a taste of eternity.
Next time try saying a word of thanks to God for something you noticed when you came to your senses. He will be there ready to listen.