"… You have saved the best till now." - John 2:10
Years ago, as I was introducing my future step-daughters to their new family, my brother visited from New York City. He brought a present: chunks of four Valrhona chocolates.
We sat at the kitchen table. The girls reached for the chocolate. "Wait!" Tim said we were going to try this differently. He took a knife and cut the chunks into small slices. The girls watched with rapt attention. "Eat one piece," he said. "Then tell us what it tastes like."
First they gulped a Hershey bar. "Yum!" "Chocolatey!"
But with the Valrhona they entered new gastronomic territory. For the first time in their lives they ate chocolate slowly. Their world shrunk to the size of their mouths, navigating tastes with new depth and breadth of flavor. The chocolate slowly disappeared. The intensity on their tongues birthed poetry: "Soft, round, dark, and orangey!" "Almost bitter but then gets warm!"
(When the Valrhona was gone my brother did something sneaky. He gave the girls pieces of a Hershey bar again, to compare. They spat it out in disgust. I watched our food budget tripling. Thanks a bunch, Tim.)
It's odd to praise chocolate during Lent. My apologies, if you've given it up. Then again, ours was a beautiful lesson in the gift of restraint. And in honoring God's gift of a shared moment, by seeking and serving the finest flavor to be found.
God of bounty and richness, grant me grace today to taste slowly and deeply of the wonder you have put within my reach — and then to sing your praise. Amen.
John A. Nelson is the Pastor of the Niantic Community Church (UCC/MCC) in Niantic, Connecticut.