What is it that makes the taste of certain foods linger in your mouth—foods like garlic, onions, char-grilled meat or coffee? Each of these foods has a strong, bold flavor. Yet, other foods, like cheese, wine, and tomato sauce have outgoing flavors, but they don’t stay with you as long.
Today, as I reflect on my tastes, I am most aware of the lingering taste of garlic. I met a friend for lunch at Puccini’s and had the daily special—a slice of pizza, salad and drink for seven bucks! As I was driving home, I became aware of the strong taste of garlic on my tongue. Even after brushing my teeth, the flavor still lingered. Even now, at about 7 PM, I can taste a hint of garlic.
Why does garlic stay with me? I’m not sure and my small amount of research has not provided a reliable answer. What I do know is that because this taste has lingered, I continue to remember the pizza, my friend and our conversation. Each time my brain notices the garlic my memory is jogged back to lunch.
As I ponder the way God speaks to me through this attribute of taste, I think about what causes my heart to linger with the taste of God. Meditation is what immediately comes to mind. When I meditate, it’s much like the experience of re-tasting lunch. You know what happens when a cow chews its cud. It chews grass, swallows it, regurgitates it and chews some more. It keeps re-tasting what it had for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
In the same way, when I meditate on a verse of Scripture or an image or metaphor that helps me live more consciously with God, I keep re-tasting it as I extract more and more meaning from it. Like the taste of garlic, the verse or image lingers, reminding me of its meaning and allowing me to be further nourished by it.
Here are some helps in keeping your focus when you meditate:
- Meditate on something that attracted your attention, even if you don't know why.
- Study it with all the concerted attention you can, paying attention to the details and any unusual way that God is speaking through it.
- Mull over the verse/image/metaphor repeatedly in your mind--like a rock tumbler tumbling rocks. Feel the meaning of the verse/image and let it sink in.
- Be mindful of it the rest of the day (or longer). As you have conversations, do chores, or drive in the car, picture living out what you are meditating on.