Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Lesson In Taste

“And the taste of it was like that of a cake in honey.” Exodus 16:31

“‘The taste of it was like that of a cake with honey’ means good that was delightful because it was made out of truth by means of delight. Here spiritual good is being described - where it originates and how it comes into being, thus also the essential nature of it. That is to say, in its first beginnings this good is truth, but this is made good when it passes from the will, and so from affection, into action. For whatever a person wills out of affection for it is seen as good, and is therefore also called good. Yet this good can be brought into being only by means of the delights that belong to the natural man. The spiritual man is brought to that good by means of them; and once he has been brought to it he is able to have a feeling for it. This then is what is meant by ‘the taste of the manna was like that of a cake with honey’.” Arcana Celestia n.8522

There is a warehouse size grocery store conveniently located along my route to work. It has fresh food from all over the world. And it has less expensive organic foods that my wife’s body requires, as it cannot tolerate the herbicides and pesticides that are so widely used. Every fall it has a great variety of apples, some of which I have never heard of before and had never tasted.

It turns out that not every small, mostly green, apple tastes like the hard, mostly green, very tart apples of my childhood backyard! And it turns out that to be sweet, crisp and tasty an apple doesn’t have to be the shiny red and “apple shaped” ones of the grocery chain!

There are apples that are large, round, mostly green and are soft and sweeter and tastier than what I ever knew. And there are small, red apples whose tartness is actually delightful. In fact, I am developing an expensive taste in apples! That aside, the real lesson is that the looks and tastes I had known before were a very limited experience of the delights available. And, seeking to grow spiritually, I can easily acknowledge the Lord’s handiwork in these varieties of apples and their textures and tastes, and can thank Him for the many blessings!

This is also a lesson about how I limit myself. Most of the time I limit myself in response to the Lord’s commands. There may be only Ten Commandments, but they cover all my spiritual life. When I step over the limits described by them, which I can do in so many ways, I will be hurt or will hurt others, at least spiritually. It seems the safe thing is to be wary of stepping over the lines.

I can, however, unnecessarily limit myself. For instance, when I limit myself to the literally not lying, yet still give my wife “the silent treatment,” thus lying by omission (and also lying to myself by saying that I am not lying, only reacting properly; and since she is not fooled and knows exactly what I am thinking, it is a double whammy lie!), I am limiting my opportunity to obey the Lord and participate in my being made spiritual. There is a new delight awaiting my tasting the experience of not lying spiritually!

And so the tension of being human goes on. Spirit and body; will and understanding; self and others; self and God; earth and heaven; I exist in the perfect balance between them. To chafe against one side or the other is to live a disgruntled life. To shy away from one in fear is to live an anxious life. To make mistakes, even ones that leave scars, is inevitable. But sometimes, the apple tastes better than I have ever tasted before. What looks like an unsavory, mushy, ugly prospect, is a blessing from the Lord I am seeing in the hellish light of my evil desires and false thoughts.

A side story, that perhaps doesn’t fit neatly into this metaphor, is the fact that I discovered these new apples because my wife asked me to get her a variety of organic apples, in order to try them all to find those her body could tolerate. Of course, those that didn’t suit her needs I had to eat! In a sense, then, I was forced to expand my limits. Some outside pressure coerced me! I didn’t choose to expand my life. But when it happened, I discovered a wonderful blessing from the Lord. The interpretation I am giving this (although there are others!) is that “it’s all good!” Good and bad things happen, and I do good and bad things, I do things right and I make mistakes, but in every case, there is the potential of discovering a new blessing from the Lord. I constantly pray to the Lord that my eyes would be open to the blessing!

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