Meditation: Much Like Tasting

Last Sunday it drizzled steadily at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, where I sell jewelry that I make. I’m usually nestled off to the side among the cluster of other artisans, but because several vendors didn’t show due to the weather, I was bumped up to a better spot on the main strip. So, I had new neighbors, and made friends with a lady to my right named Janet. She was selling raw orange-blossom honey, and we traded two small jars for a necklace.

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Janet has a raspy, enthusiastic voice, and periodically called out to umbrella-toting passers-by to try out her honey, raving about it’s medicinal properties and eternal shelf-life. She was cheerful, as sweet-natured as her honey, and made me happy I had shown up despite the rain.

Today, as I opened my new jar of honey and had a taste of its smooth, floral goodness, I remembered an explanation I had once read, likening the experience of honey to the experience of God:

“There is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty.”

-Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light

In other words, there is a secondhand knowledge about honey that I can have without ever having tasted it, based primarily on what I’ve read and what others have told me. I can set the honey in the center of my kitchen table, walk by it every day, examine it’s amber hue, or read up on it via Wikipedia. But, until I put it to my own lips and taste it for myself, I don’t have my own personal, firsthand knowledge of honey; all I have is hearsay.

This is how I see the concept of meditation. To me, meditation is sensing, tasting, God’s goodness on my heart. Intimacy requires focus, devotion, savoring. I can (and often do) go about my days religiously hoarding information about God, but meditation happens when I experience and enjoy Him; when I think about Him, and revel in those thoughts. As Matthew Henry says, “What we love, we love to think of.” Or take Fredrick W. Faber’s famous line:

“Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.”

So, I give you this as my first thought regarding the discipline of meditation. It’s is the sort of thing where I believe it’s best for us to begin with the end – the enjoyment of the One contemplated- and work our way backwards – with methods and suggestions. Meditation is a tool that is available to all of us, in the midst of our busy days. This month as I’ve studied this discipline, I’ve been simply taking moments to press truths of scripture to my heart, linger there, and taste. It’s made the art of meditation less daunting and more satisfying; who wouldn’t want to partake of something delicious?

“…the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul…”

(Proverbs 24:13-14)

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