Whenever my family and I travel to familiar places, there are required food-related stops. When we go to San Diego, it is El Indio, Rubios, and In-N-Out. When we go to Delaware, it is Capriotti’s and Rita’s. When we go anywhere South, it is Krispy Kreme, Chick-fil-A, and Waffle House. Somehow our trips do not feel complete until we have made it to our special food establishments. In fact, in San Diego, the very first stop after the airport is not home – it is straight to El Indio. We look forward to the food for weeks before our trips, and we make sure that whatever agenda is planned, those food stops are figured into the master plan.
Not only do we make the stops because the food is amazing (because it is!), we also make the stops out of a sense of nostalgia. Because many of those establishments have not expanded to where we currently live, there is a way in which the food brings us back to other times in our lives. The sense of taste overwhelms the mind with memories, and we find ourselves savoring not just the food but the treasured experiences as well. Food has a tremendous power to create a sense of home – sometimes even more so than a particular house.
I have often felt that same way about the Eucharistic meal. Though I celebrate Eucharist multiple times per week now, every once in a while, powerful sensory experiences overwhelm what could be the mundane. The flavor of the host (yes, those bland wafers actually do have a taste), whether or not the host is stale or crunchy in your mouth, the sharp taste of communion wine at a time that would not normally be acceptable for consumption of wine – all of these sensory experiences can make communion powerful over and over again. And sometimes, the familiarity of the taste and texture is also comforting. When all else in my world seems out of control, that moment of receiving the body and blood of Christ is centering like nothing else can be.
I wonder what you have done lately to connect on a sensory level with God. Maybe you have missed church these last couple of weeks (or months, or years). Maybe you come to church, but you disconnect during the familiar Eucharistic prayer because it is just too familiar. This past Sunday at St. Margaret’s, we sang “Taste and See,” one of my favorite communion hymns. The words are based on Psalm 34. Like a familiar dining establishment, whenever I read the psalm, I think of the song. And whenever I think of the song, I am reminded of the many powerful times that holy meal has shaken up my senses in fresh ways. I invite you reconnect with God this week on a sensory level. Perhaps you will remember another place you call home.