Catching a Whiff of the Eternal


What if the sense of smell did not exist? After all, no one can hear, touch, or see the aroma of new ground coffee beans, or the misty balm of jasmine blooms. Without the sense of smell we would never even know that scents existed. In fact, were there rumors of such things, we would dismiss them as myths.

But what if a few people had the sense of smell? Many would label them liars or lunatics. And those who believed them would be scorned as simpletons.

This is the way it is with the things of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, “The natural man,” the person who believes only what may be experienced with the five external senses, “cannot discern them. They are foolishness to him, because they can only be spiritually discerned.”

After completing her monumental analysis of the world’s great mystics, the brilliant British psychologist and philosopher Evelyn Underhill concluded, in her classic study Mysticism, that throughout history there have been “spiritual geniuses;” people who consistently spoke of a spiritual realm and an infinite, loving God who could only be perceived via an inner (supernatural) sense that the Bible calls the spirit.

Like great athletes, inspired musicians, or prolific inventors, Underhill concluded, certain people are born with a genius for the spiritual, the ability to tune out the clutter of “reality” in order to perceive the ultimate Reality.

And the rest of us? We may never be spiritual geniuses, but if we are willing to follow their lead, to tune in with the humble receivers we have, we can grow stronger in discerning the things of the spirit.

We may never be spiritual Michael Phelpses or Albert Einsteins, but we can draw nearer to our Creator. And that’s what God, like every parent, longs for, after all—our love. So tune in, learn to develop your spiritual discernment, and savor that love.

And you’ll catch more than just a whiff of the eternal.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Catching a Whiff of the Eternal

  1. nancyehead says:

    What a great metaphor, Mitch! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. grAnnie Roo says:

    Beautiful, Mitch. Sniff…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. numrhood says:

    1 corinthians 2:39


  4. Gary Fultz says:

    Well said Mitch, I have also been challenged much by Evelyn’s writings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. revruss1220 says:

    Sadly we seem to be living in a time when that which cannot be perceived by any of the five sense is seen as unimportant and frivolous. Nothing – as you so aptly point out – could be further from the truth.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The mystics looked inside and discovered the Universe.🙏


  7. For decades I felt guilty because I could not “reach” God in the way I always longed for. Then it hit me. One’s longing is the same thing as what they are longing for. No one ever “touches” God in the way they want. That can only be fulfilled in eternity. And so, I continue to “groan with the whole creation” for the level for which I long.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I knew where you were going from the first words, and loved it, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Strong argument, well-written, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. stolzyblog says:

    Not just born with it either… there are those who have cultivated it and it sprang forth in their adulthood.

    Another interesting thing about this sensory analogy is how it illustrates anti-spiritual bias so well. For just as it makes little sense for a blind person to try and deny the existence of colors and call those who claim to see them deluded — so too the one with out spiritual interest or inclination is in no logical position to deny the existence of spirit simply because he lacks the capacity.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Brilliant analogy. And it especially speaks to me, because I have lost almost all of my ability to smell. I am “nose blind”. If I had been born this way, I wouldn’t be able to understand what the sense of smell even meant.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Just appreciate this so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Garfield Hug says:

    My father had a benign meningioma that when removed made him lose the sense of smell. It becomes dangerous as he cannot smell gas and we disallow him from using our gas stove in case he forgets to turn off and suffers from gas poisoning.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. lynnabbott says:

    You have such a wonderful way of creating word pictures that make me think about my faith in new and deep ways! Thank you over and over again, Mitch! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Cheryl Schaeffner says:

    A powerful metaphor, Mitch! Particularly for we sniffers who depend on that sense so much! Your writings touch me! Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a gift when we capture that tantalizing aroma, even if just for a moment!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Geoffrey Church says:

    Spent the morning chanting with others in my buddhist practice in North London. Definitely caught a whiff! I love the analogy Mitch.


  18. Geoffrey Church says:

    Also will check out the book

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: The Smell of Books | Mitch Teemley

  20. Pingback: Call Me Mr. Sunshine | Mitch Teemley

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