Monday, October 5, 2009

30 Days of Tasting

Day 20

When I began my 30 Days of Tasting, one of the first people I thought to contact is a friend of ours, Ed Fischer. A couple years back, David and I went to a wine tasting where Ed was the Master Sommelier—a designation that only around 125 people have in the entire United States. David and I were amazed at how knowledgeable Ed was. So, when I thought about “tasting”, Ed came to mind.

Ed and his wife, Carol, moved from Indianapolis a few years ago, purchased, and now operate a gorgeous bed and breakfast in West Virginia called North Fork Mountain Inn. Ed was in town for the Colts game on Sunday, so I had a chance to have coffee this morning and ask him several questions about tasting. He had incredible insight!

What I found most fascinating was his response to my question, “If you were to teach me to taste wine, how would you do it?” I want to share with you his suggestions and then use them as a way to think about tasting more of God in life.

Here’s what Ed suggested:

  1. Try different types of wine so that you can learn to taste by comparing and contrasting them. In the same way, try reading books from different traditions. Why not read a book by a Catholic Mystic, a novel by a Hasidic contemplative, or poetry by the Persian philosopher, Rumi. By exposing yourself to different traditions, you expand your world and learn what distinguishes your faith from others.
  2. Pair wine with food. Food makes wine taste better and wine makes food taste better. Many of our spiritual disciplines can be enhanced when we pair them with a friend. Spiritual friendships are a wonderful place to share the journey and learn from each other. Friends make life taste better and vice versa.
  3. Try wine tasting on a regular basis. (Ed said it was 10 years before he really was able to tell much about the nuances of tastes in wine. Now he can tell the vintage, climate, soil and country it comes from!) One of the most important spiritual disciplines we learn is the ability to live in the present moment. At the same time, living present is the hardest thing in life to learn. That’s why it’s important to focus on it everyday.
  4. Don’t get stuck only drinking the same types of wine. Continue to try new varieties, always expanding your palate. God is the life within life. Why limit experiencing God through the same, repetitive, narrow approaches? Expand your palette of spiritual disciplines to include things that are not from your particular tradition. Attend an Episcopal Mass, go on a silent retreat, or serve the poor in a neighborhood clean-up project.

Thanks, Ed, for helping me see the inextricable connection of tasting wine with tasting more of God. Until tomorrow!

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