Dr. Vigen Guroian, Professor of Theology at Loyola College (Baltimore, MD), prolific author, and Armenian Orthodox Christian
Here are some interesting and picturesque thoughts from a contemporary Orthodox author.
We make a big mistake when we devalue the body and the senses. Our senses are important stepping-stones on the path to God and Paradise. When I kneel in my garden, the aromas of the plants may overwhelm me, yet I may not see any save those immediately in front of me. When I kneel in prayer, God's presence permeates my entire being, though He remains invisible to my eyes.
It is true that, when all is said and done, we must transcend our fallen senses, including the sense of smell, for higher spiritual senses of a life unaffected by sin. Yet with the proper discipline even our earthly senses may assist us in the journey to God. God has filled the whole of Creation with signs of His existence, signs that our senses can apprehend and that our minds can translate into knowledge of Him...
God has created human nature with the capacity to resonate with the pulse of Divine Life. But sin has damaged this ability. It has put not only our senses "out of tune" but also the whole human instrument in disrepair. That is why we are unable to experience God in the garden with the same intimacy, harmony, and intensity of Adam and Eve before the Fall. That is what makes gardening such a bittersweet activity...
God wants us to hear His footsteps in the garden, to feel His embrace and kisses among the lilies, to feed on Him at the Tree of Life, and to breathe in His life with the fragrance of the rose, as did Adam and Eve. God wants us to inherent eternal life. But these things can come about only if we reorient our senses, tune our human instrument, so that we are able to respond to the grace that permeates ordinary life.
Christians are the "real" realists. The Son of God, by His incarnation, has demonstrated that the world is filled with symbols of God. These symbols that God has planted in the world testify not only to his existence but also to the goodness of His Creation. By the example of His own life, Christ teaches us that through our senses we may commence our spiritual journey, and that He will receive us into Paradise in the full integrity of our humanity, body and soul united, and together in communion with Him.
excerpts from Vigen Guroian, Fragrance of God (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing, 2006), 11, 15, 16-17.