Thursday, June 23, 2011

Each Bite

I sat beside a stone fountain that wasn’t running.  In my hand I held a small paper cup with one scoop of chocolate ice cream in it.  My other hand wielded a long-handled spoon.  The day was hot enough to insist on rolling down car windows or turning up the AC.  But in Aurora, tens of miles from mountain ranges in the west, the sunset on the longest day of the year was already approaching.  Above the sky was still bright blue, but washed-out by the yellow evening glow.

Carefully, thoughfully, I dipped the tip of my spoon into the ice cream scoop and brought the one round bite to my tongue.  Texture.  Taste.  Temperature.  I summoned my attention to them all even as my spirit offered gratitude to God.  The semisweet chocolate was so good – a bit bitter, still creamy, sharp and round and sweet and cold but melting.  Without thinking the spoon went into the cup again, brought out a bit larger bite, and I remembered just before it touched my lips: this dessert is for experiencing.  I slowed down, and enjoyed another bite. 

“You’re not in a hurry,” I coached myself.  “You can sit here and watch the sunset and eat your ice cream.”  So I took little spoonfuls into my mouth and savored. 

Not that anything was imminent, I realized that I was bound by a sort of natural limit: ice cream melts.  If I steadily enjoyed my cup of bliss, no problems.  But if I dilly-dallied, drew out each mouthful unnecessarily, holding it in my mouth until the flavor was all diluted with saliva, or balance-walked the edge of the fountain with the ice cream waiting in my hand, then the experience would diminish into a cup of sweet chocolate soup, and might in the evening’s heat even get a bit warm. 

And then I thought life is kind of like that.  I need to savor each moment, living it to the full.  But if I hold on to moments and try not to let change happen, it’s going to ruin it.  And if instead of being where I am, I’m worrying or regretting or complaining, that’s not the point either. 

I finished the last bite of creamy chocolate and scraped the bottom of the cup with my spoon.  Then I hopped up, slung my purse over my shoulder, dropped the disposable serviceware into the trash can nearby, and twirled to lift first one leg and then another over the low place in a chain-scallop separating the plaza from the drive.  Back in my car, I drove home with a smile. 

To God be all glory.

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