|Encountering God by Tasting a Plum
Vinita Hampton Wright
More than 20 years ago, I sat at my desk, at my first publishing job, feeling overwhelmed. The desk was piled high with projects, and numerous stresses pressed against my mind that day. To save money, I’d packed a lunch. Unwilling to leave my desk—perhaps I could work while eating?—I bit into the red plum I’d brought. And then everything changed.
When a plum is at the perfect point of ripeness, your teeth break its skin, and the juice explodes in your mouth. That’s what happened to me: the bite and the bursting of flavor. And memory. Suddenly I was transported to my childhood and Grandmother’s backyard. She had several fruit trees, and there was nothing quite like picking a plum or peach, still warm from the sun, and biting into it. In the present, I sat at my desk in Chicago’s metropolis, but I also existed in my past, with my family, with peaceful summer days, and with love that transcends decades.
That memory was a grace, pulling me out of my stress and narrow vision of life, which included little more than endless tasks and daily worries. When the bright taste of fruit filled my mouth, I remembered that life was much more than the job at hand. I would get through these stressful days. The work would get done. My husband and I would figure out how to manage our multiple worries. The life God had given me was broad and deep and full, but sometimes I forgot that.
The beauty of our physical senses is that they can reboot our thinking patterns. The taste of sweet, ripe plum goes around my defenses and touches me so that I can experience something other than my worries or arguments. The physical body is designed to trick us into letting go of rationalization and heeding the taste and welcoming the memory it triggers. My memory of Grandmother’s yard triggered happiness, and my response was gratitude. In gratitude I encountered God.
Taste works in many ways, and we can work with this marvelous sense so that our hearts open up and our prayer happens naturally.
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