My husband and I just came out of a two week Covid-fog, so the first two weeks of Advent, already offbeat due to the pandemic, were spent sitting in recliners under blankets while waiting for the next symptom to appear. Thankfully, we had mild cases, but decorations didn’t get put up, the tree and the ornaments were still in boxes and not a cookie was made.
One of the last symptoms we experienced was the loss of our taste and smell, which is a bummer heading into Christmas. Our senses are slowly returning, but everything tastes muted. We made chili, which is usually a complex sensory pleasure, and it tasted ok. A little bland. It’s hard to know if I just remember how things taste or if I can actually taste the food. Taste is something I’ve never thought about much, but to lose it raises the awareness of how delightful it is to savor a delicious meal.
The loss of taste and smell is a bit like our muted awareness of a heavenly reality that we’ll know in the future. We get a subdued taste now, but one day we’ll have the full experience.
God’s creation was full of mouthwatering fruit to eat, but sin damaged the fruit trees and muted our sense of taste. Where once the fruit tasted rich, with multiple flavors enhancing its essence, now as covid sufferers demonstrate, we only taste sweet or sour; bitter or salty. Everything is one dimensional. All complexity is lost. Nothing excites our taste buds. As much as we enjoy first-class food, and it can be fabulous, it is nowhere near what it could be.
An example of our dampened tastes is described for us in John 2 when Jesus turned water into wine. The wedding had run out of wine, which was a social disaster for the hosts, so Mary told Jesus to handle it. Jesus had the servants fill six stone jars, each holding twenty or thirty gallons, which was no small task. They didn’t have a faucet; they had to go to the well and lug the water back to the party.
After the jars were filled to the brim, Jesus had the master of the banquet taste the wine. He was shocked that the host had not served that tremendous wine first. Jesus turned a lot of plain water into a lot of excellent wine.
What is tasteless water here on earth is the best wine you have ever tasted in heaven. What tastes like a ho-hum hamburger on earth will be an extraordinary culinary experience in heaven. Our taste buds will be perfected and food will be a complex match for them.
Advent is the season in which we await the celebration of Jesus’s birth. It’s a time of anticipation and joyful preparation. This year, with Covid in the mix, I’m looking forward to Christmas, yes, but I am more anticipating the day when Jesus returns, our bodies will be resurrected and our senses will be ready to smell, taste, hear, touch and see everything perfectly.
Taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8