My wife, Tish, has, over the last few years, lost her sense of smell. That’s not the worst thing in the world. It even has a bit of an upside. She can’t smell our wet Springer Spaniel. She can’t smell … well … me, after a dinner out at Armando’s, our favorite Spanish restaurant. Her life is in no imminent danger because of her loss of smell.
But, her loss of smell carries with it an unspoken tinge of sadness. She can’t smell the clean sheets, or a fine spring morning, a good cup of coffee, or her favorite perfume. Probably most disconcerting of all, she can’t smell food. And, because she can’t smell food, she is unable to really taste food For her, there is no subtlety, or variety, or nuance in what she eats. It’s all just … food.
I’ve tried to persuade Tish, when we go out to eat at Armando’s, to order, say … just rice and beans, instead of the more expensive Seafood Paella. After all, to her, it all tastes the same, and would save us at least $20. She refuses. When asked “why?” she simply replies, “Because, in my mind, I remember what it tasted like.” So, we order the incredibly seasoned Paella for Two, and my job becomes assuring Tish that it still tastes as good as she remembers. It’s actually a delightful assignment. I get to eat fabulous Paella. I get to be with my wife. And I get to stretch my communication skills (I don’t have the most sophisticated palette.) All of this because my sweet wife is determined to “taste by memory”.
The poet David once encouraged me to “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” which is fine … except when my ability to smell is damaged, or when my palette is skewed.
Here’s the truth: sometimes I can’t even come close to tasting the goodness of God. Life is stale, boring, with all the excitement of a bowl of white rice. That’s when I find it’s important for me to have a “Taster”. Someone, like the poet, to help me “taste by memory”. (The guy also wrote, “Why are you so downcast, Oh my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.”)
This year, if, for you, life has lost its’ savor, don’t despair. Find yourself a Taster. Someone to remind you that God is good, and that you will yet praise him. And, this year, if, for you, life is tasting particularly full and rich and sweet, make a point to be the taster for someone else. It’s a delightful and important job. And, frankly, it’s not even all that important that you have a very sophisticated palette. (Trust me.)