In recent months the Communion Hymn at the NPEM churches has been “Taste and see, taste and see, the goodness of the Lord..” It is a hymn I have known and sung for many years.
An elderly friend of ours (age 99) had been hospitalized and had not been feeling well. We decided to go see her. That morning I had been to the Lyons Farmer’s Market and had brought home some strawberries I had purchased from some Amish farmers who had picked them that morning. As we were heading for the door Nancy told me she was going to prepare some strawberries to take to our friend.
When we arrived our friend was asleep and looking a bit haggard. When we woke her she told us she had been taken to the hospital the night before for 4 hours. She had been diagnosed with an infection, treated and returned home. She spoke of being very tired.
After some initial conversation Nancy produced the strawberries. “They look good” she told us. Nan asked how she liked to eat them. “With cream & sugar” was the reply. Nancy left the room, went to the facility’s kitchen where a cook was extremely helpful. Nan returned with packs of sweetener and a pitcher of cream. She sliced the berries into a cup added the sweetener and then the cream. She helped spoon the berries for our friend (who has lost feeling in her fingers).
As the first slice of sweetened berry with cream passed her lips she closed her eyes and began to smile. There was such delight on her face as berry slice after berry slice was savoured and enjoyed. It was a holy moment to watch her enjoy this gift from creation becoming a part of her.
In some way that I cannot fathom there was a bit of healing in those lowly berries. The friend who had been so tired and dispirited when we arrived was smiling, engaged and enlivened.
I realized today that the berries were the vehicle by which she connected to the goodness of creation, to her own history, to the farmer’s love of the land, the loving hand of Nancy which had brought and prepared the gift, and to the cook whose caring for the residents allowed us to interrupt his meal prep so she could enjoy this taste of creation.
I can never sing “Taste and See” again without the memory of that holy moment our friend tasted the strawberry. I hope for the grace and the ability to help another taste and see the goodness of the Lord. And I pray that I, too, may find ways to taste, see and give thanks for God’s endless goodness to me.