Today I had lunch with a gentleman named Ben, from Cameroon, West Africa. He is a professor at Austin Peay University and speaks six languages. I asked him if we could stick with English for now.
We talked about a lot of things over our Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwiches. We discussed travel and all the countries where he has lived and the fact that I was one of the first Americans that he has encountered who has been to several African countries. He said most Americans he has met have made that one trip to Africa and that’s all they needed… to say they’ve done it. He said that he was amazed that I knew Cameroon was in West Africa. (I won’t go into my frustration with our lack of knowledge of the world outside of the United States – that’s another blog entry.) He was shocked to hear that I want to return and see as much of Africa as I can. He looked at me as if I was a puzzle he couldn’t figure out. I’ve seen that look before. 🙂
We discussed the idea that no matter how much you read about a country or study its topography and indigenous people….you cannot know the country until you visit. You cannot smell the country in text books. You cannot taste the country in a brochure. You cannot feel a country’s textures until you are there and run your hand across its surface. It was a beautiful conversation.
And then Ben made a statement that has resonated with me the entire day. He said that he tells his students something very similar when it comes to focusing on their studies. The ability to focus does not mean that you try to get your mind to see and concentrate on just one thing. But that you take that one thing and get all your senses to engage it. How does the object or lesson make you feel? What do you hear it saying to you? If you can’t touch it, how does it touch you? How are your senses engaged?
Anyway, just wanted to share this with you even though I’ve not come up with a conclusive hypothesis. It’s just that I am pondering how this affects the many areas of my life. My ability to focus at work, my Biblical studies, worship, my listening skills, my being present in relationships.
Does this resonate with you? Where in your life do you need/want to engage all your senses?