i am alive. i am awake. i am aware of what [life] tastes like.1
It tastes like meteors. Like sunshine spilling warmth over me as I lie on a mound of wood chips. Like black currant tea and dark chocolate. Like thought-full and heart-felt conversations. Like fear from a film—and fear of the unknown. Like crisp autumn air, scented by leaves crunched. Like solitude under the moon. Like sorrow piercing my heart. And it tastes like hope springing from Truth.
May I help you taste hope for a little while? I want to point you toward Hope himself; to give you Something real to reach for; to write a truer story than fear would depict. I want to breathe colour and beauty and life into you.
When I first heard the song quoted above, I thought it said, i am aware of what life tastes like. Turns out it says, of what light tastes like. Oh my—what does light taste like? Does light taste like sorrow, like life can? Maybe. The song goes on to say:
i want to be.
i want to be at my best.
it’s bittersweet, it’s poetry.
a careful pruning of my dead leaves.
Light is bittersweet. Perhaps because light is necessary for seeing, and seeing is wonderful. Yet living in a broken, fallen world means that seeing is also horror-full. I live in the mountains; I think they are the most stunning in brilliant autumn and scintillating winter. But the beauty can be marred by beetle killed forests; by plumes of black smoke, charcoal trees, and ash falling like dead snow. In the same way, human beings can be so intensely interesting or lovely that we can hardly look away from them. But footage of skeletal men being sent to gas chambers, or babies being dismembered—we can hardly look at that inhumane reality. Life under the curse is exposed by light, seen to be both indescribably beautiful and unspeakably horrific. But the curse has an expiry date. Light does not. Not the Light of the world, Who will make the sun, moon, and stars obsolete.
Notice, though, that light is also a careful pruning of my dead leaves. If we are like a tree (planted by rivers of living water, as Psalm one says), we need to be pruned to stay healthy. The Daystar clips sucker shoots, prunes even our healthy branches to keep us growing. He is careful, observant, wise. He does not prune unnecessarily, only what is best—even when it hurts so much it feels like he has cut off far too much for us to keep living.
so i propose a toast: to fists unraveling, to glass unshattering. to breaking all the rules, to breaking bread again. we’re swallowing light, we’re swallowing our pride. we’re raising our glass ’til we’re fixed from the inside. ’til we’re fixed from the inside.
Where does the light get in? Where we are cracked, even shattered. The Light gets in through the broken bread on our tongues, the wine burning our throats—we swallow the Light again and again, until we are fixed from the inside. It is a process, like eating daily, it is not a one-time meal that satiates our hunger for only a day. Swallowing the Light is our daily bread (Scripture); it is our weekly feast (the Eucharist); it is our continual sustenance (meditation and contemplative prayer); it is the bitter gall we sometimes taste (weeping over sin); it is the banquet to come, tasted a little now (worship and adoration). It is the swallowed Light Who heals us from within, not from shining on us – exposing us – from without. We must be revealed and healed from within. We must be unshattered from the inside.
May I help you taste the Hope that is now, as well as to come? We are a people who are united by our King. We live in his kingdom now. We build his kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. We get to participate in the kingdom’s colours and tastes and smells, to build and steward and welcome others into this kingdom. We do this when we create a meal. When we weep with those who are grieved. When we build homes and roads and grocery stores. When we play music to inspire—breathe life into—the souls around us. When we love on others by loving their children. When we give sacrificially of our possessions or bank account; or harder still, of our time and our emotions. We co-labour to construct the kingdom of Christ in many ways—seen and unseen, big and small. In this, we are the body of Christ, joined and knit together with Jesus as our Head. God builds his kingdom through us upon the Chief Cornerstone: Jesus. This is what Light tastes like.