Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God, By J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram
Awaken Your Senses
  • Length: 208 pages
  • Published: December 12, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 3560
  • ISBN: 9780830835607

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Perhaps you've been missing out. God has given us five senses and a brain with two sides. Yet we often approach God in one way only: through words that are analyzed and processed logically in our left brain. The right brain, however, is the creative, intuitive center--the place that connects most to our seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and hearing, and that roots experiences in our hearts in transforming ways.

In Awaken Your Senses, longtime ministers Beth Booram and Brent Bill invite you to engage your right brain in your faith through sensory spiritual practices that position your heart for divine encounter. Readings and a variety of exercises that utilize your whole body lead you to experience God in new ways by

  • tasting chocolate, words, matzoh, Scripture, forgiveness
  • seeing the moon, wisdom, art, glory, your best self
  • touching others, stones, prayers, rubble, Jesus
  • hearing silence, music, pain, footsteps, the Spirit, the news
  • smelling gardenias, life, salty air, home, healing oil, coffee

Teaching you to pay attention in love to your surroundings, Booram and Bill will help you open your eyes and ears and nose to a sensuous faith--one in which God can be experienced each day as we live and move and have our being.

So whether you're weary, stuck, struggling, growing or on information-overload, the exercises and reflections offered here can bring refreshment--a cold drink of water, a gentle breeze--to your soul. Come experience God with all of who you are, and discover more of who he is.

"Awaken Your Senses by J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram is a beautiful invitation to explore and embody the sacred sensual world. This delightful work invites us into a greater integration of head and heart, mind and spirit, through the use of mindful and creative exercises. It is a wonderful companion and guide for becoming more centered, present and aware in the midst of a busy life. What a joy to drink deep of Awaken Your Senses!"

Carrie Newcomer, Rounder recording artist, The Geography of Light

"Awaken Your Senses invites us to notice God's movement in and around us. These pages grant us a permission to remember, and yet be more present through the conduit of our senses. This is the sort of resource that can help us keep a more rhymed company with God."

Randy D. Reese, author of Spiritual Mentoring

"Amazingly, we become dull to something as extraordinary as life, and bored by someone as awesome as God. This book woke me up without beating me up, and gave me tangible, practical ways to savor the sacrament of life, to have genuine gratitude for my body and its senses, and to sink into the glory of God until I felt nothing but joy. Read this and be blessed."

James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

"With Awaken Your Senses, Brent Bill and Beth Booram have given us a superb resource for seeking the God of life through sensuous experience, a way of knowing that has been sadly neglected--and too often held suspect--by the church. How did a faith based on the claim that 'the Word became flesh' become so divorced from bodily, incarnate knowledge? Here is a beautiful book that will help us reclaim our bodies, our senses and our relationship with God."

Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak

"This book is a feast for the senses. It is an invitation to see, hear, smell, taste and touch deeper spiritual realities through physical senses that are awake and alert to God in all of life. It gently but powerfully leads us into a life that is truly sacramental and enriched through the use of Scripture, personal stories and beautiful images."

Juliet Benner, spiritual director and author of Contemplative Vision

"Awaken Your Senses is a wonderful resource that encourages us all to realize life while we're living it -- and tahnk the Giver of all good gifts as we do."

Michelle van Loon, Englewood Review of Books, Lent 2012

"Modeling the best Sunday School teachers, Bill and Booram get close to God via the five senses. The journey could so easily have been a skip instead of a sail; however, they truly manifest the book's purpose: 'to help more of you experience more of God'. . . . It adds up to a deeply pleasing book."

Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2011



Part One: Taste
Art Reflection on Tasting
1. Introduction
2. Tasting Forgiveness
3. Keeping Kosher
4. Cravings
5. Spiritual Smorgasbord
6. Tasting Words

Part Two: See
Art Reflection on Seeing
1. Introduction
2. Creaturely Insight
3. Reframe and Refocus
4. Reflecting Glory
5. Going Off Grid
6. I See the Moon

Part Three: Touch
Art Reflection on Touching
1. Introduction
2. Textures
3. A Pile of Stones
4. Touching Absence
5. Feeling Your Prayers
6. Touching Jesus

Part Four: Hear
Art Reflection on Hearing
1. Introduction
2. Soundtrack
3. Footsteps
4. All the News
5. Recurring Themes
6. Dinner Conversation

Part Five: Smell
Art Reflection on Smelling
1. Introduction
2. Smells Like . . . Worship
3. Hospitals
4. Sea Salt and Midwest Mulberries
5. Organic Sweat
6. Wake Up and Smell the Communion

Conclusion: Rhythms that Ground Us

Sensory Exercises:
Additional Activities for Practicing a Sensuous Faith
Resources for Awakening Your Senses
Connecting with Authors


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J. Brent Bill

Brent Bill is a writer, retreat leader, and Quaker minister. He's the author and coauthor of many books, including Awaken Your Senses, Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, Holy Places: Matching Sacred Space with Mission and Message, and Imagination and Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader. In addition, he is the author of more than one hundred short stories, nonfiction articles, and the popular blog Holy Ordinary. Bill is a graduate of Wilmington College and the Earlham School of Religion. He has been a local church pastor, denominational executive, seminary faculty member, and go-cart track operator. He lives with his wife on Ploughshares Farm, fifty acres of Indiana farmland that is being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

Beth A. Booram

Beth A. Booram is the cofounder and director of Fall Creek Abbey, an urban retreat center in Indianapolis, where she and her husband David lead The School of Spiritual Direction and offer individual and group spiritual direction. She is the coauthor of Awaken Your Senses and the author of several books including Starting Something New, Picturing the Face of Jesus, and The Wide Open Spaces of God.

Beth is a deep feeler who loves to think, an extrovert with a penchant for solitude, and an artist who sees the hand of God in even the smallest encounters with creation. She speaks around the country on topics related to spiritual formation and Christian leadership and has been involved for more than thirty years in a variety of ministry roles on the college campus and within the local church.