The Sweetness of a Godward Meal: Dad’s Wisdom for Thanksgiving Day – Joe Rigney

My son, eat honey, for it is good,
     and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul.
(Proverbs 24:13–14)

“Hey, son. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure, Dad. What’s up?”

“Thanksgiving dinner is almost ready, but before we eat, I have some Thanksgiving Day advice for you.”

“Okay.”

“It’s pretty straightforward, but it might require a little explanation.”

“What is it?”

“Today, I want you to eat honey.”

“Honey? Why?”

“Well, because it’s good.”

“Good?”

“Yeah, you know what good means, right?”

“Of course I do.”

“Tell me.”

“Good means that you like something.”

“Okay. What does that mean?”

“Um, that it tastes good?”

“So honey is good because it tastes good?”

“Yeah, because it tastes sweet.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere. So you’re saying that honey is good because it’s sweet to your taste?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever thought about how taste works? Like, what does it mean for honey to be sweet to your taste?”

“Not really.”

“Let’s start with honey. What is it?”

“Something that bees make in their hives.”

“Do you know how they make it?”

“Not really.”

“Okay, let’s start with flowers. Have you ever heard of Green Magick?”

“No.”

“That’s what a friend of mine calls photosynthesis and all of the amazing processes that go into making a plant grow. Plants take water and nutrients from the soil, carbon dioxide from the air, and light from the sun and mix and mingle it all together to produce stalks, leaves, and, of course, flowers. Do you know why plants have flowers?”

“In science class, Mrs. Johnson said that that’s how plants reproduce.”

“That’s right. Flowers reproduce through pollen. That’s the fuzzy stuff on the flower. The challenge is to get the pollen from one flower to another so that they can reproduce seeds to grow into new plants. Do you know how they do that?”

“Bees?”

“Exactly. Bees come to one flower. Pollen sticks to their hair. Then they go to another flower, and drop the pollen where it can fertilize it to produce seeds that produce more plants. Do you know why the bees come to the flower?”

“Because of the colors?”

“Partly. The colorful petals of the flower do grab their attention. But the petals are promising something that the bees want: nectar. That’s the sweet sticky stuff in the center of the flowers. Nectar is the bee’s reward for pollinating the flowers.”

“That’s pretty cool.”

“I know. Let me ask you another question. Do you know what the word glorify means?”

“Sort of. But I don’t know how to say it.”

“When we’re talking about created things, one meaning of the word glorify is to take something good and to make it even better. So nectar is glorified water. It’s water that’s been transformed by Green Magick into something even more glorious. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.”

“So the bees eat the nectar, and it goes into their second stomach, called the honey sac. Once they’re full, they go back to the hive and share the nectar with other bees. All of the sharing and digesting starts to transform the nectar into something else.”

“That sounds kinda weird.”

“It’s actually amazing. Eventually, after partially digesting and sharing, the bees deposit the nectar into this wax that they make. Then they beat their wings really fast, which causes some of the moisture in the nectar to evaporate, which completes the transformation into honey. In other words, honey is glorified nectar.”

“And nectar is glorified water.”

“Now you’re getting it. So the move from water to nectar to honey is a move from glory to more glory to even more glory.”

“That’s cool.”

“It is. So now we’re back to my advice. Do you remember what it was?”

“You told me to eat honey because it’s good.”

“And why is it good?”

“Because it’s sweet to our taste.”

“So let’s think a little more about sweetness. Sweetness has to do with the connection between honey and your tongue. So what do you know about your tongue?”

“It’s in my mouth, and it has taste buds.”

“And what do you know about taste buds?”

“Not much.”

“Taste buds are tiny sensory receptors on your tongue that detect different tastes. Do you know the five main tastes?”

“Um, sweet, salty, sour, and . . . I don’t know the others.”

“Bitter (like kale) and savory (like bacon). So your tongue has taste buds, and when different foods hit them, we detect sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or savory (or some combination). So when we put honey on our tongues, we say it’s sweet to our taste. And because it’s sweet to our taste, we say . . .”

“That it’s good.”

“Exactly. Now, do you remember how the water went through an amazing process in the plant in order to become nectar? And how the nectar went through a weird process in the bees and the beehive in order to become honey?”

“Yes.”

“And what did I call that process?”

“Glorification.”

“Well, the honey needs to go through a similar process in you in order to be glorified.”

“You’re not going to make me spit up the honey and share it with people, are you?”

“Ha! No, this process is a little different. Think about this. Is water alive?

“No.”

“And so in order to be glorified, it needed something greater than itself. It needed something alive — the plant. Right?”

“Right.”

“And why did the plant need the bees?”

“Because they can’t move and pollinate in order to reproduce.”

“Exactly. They needed something greater as well — a mobile creature. Well, really, a lot of mobile creatures, a hive of bees. And how did they attract those mobile creatures?”

“With the petals and the nectar.”

“And why did the bees want the nectar?”

“To eat it.”

“And why did they want to eat it?”

“Because it’s good and sweet to their taste?”

“Very good. So in that way the bees are kind of like us, right?”

“Yes.”

“So we’ve moved from water (which isn’t living) through flowers (which live and grow, but don’t move) through bees (which live, grow, move, and taste). And now we come to us. What makes us different from bees (and other animals)?”

“I don’t know.”

“Think about it.”

“I don’t know.”

“No really, think about it.”

“Oh, right. We can think.”

“Exactly. So in order to glorify honey again, we’re going to think. We’re going to use our minds. And that brings me to my second piece of Thanksgiving advice. To do it, I need you to remember the first piece of advice. Do you?”

“Eat honey, because it’s good and sweet to my taste.”

“Great. Now, here’s the second: know that wisdom is such to your soul. Got that?”

“Not really.”

“Since it’s almost time to eat, I’ll give you a little help. The Bible says that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ So wisdom is a way of life that flows from the fear of the Lord. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, then, let’s consider the word such. That’s a comparison word. It means like this. So we can restate the sentence as ‘know that wisdom is like this to your soul.’ Does that make sense?”

“Sure.”

“So what is wisdom like in that sentence? What does this refer to?”

“Honey?”

“Honey is part of it. But not just honey. What else?”

“The goodness of honey?”

“Yes. And why is honey good?”

“Because it’s sweet to my taste.”

“So if such means like this, and this refers to honey’s goodness and sweetness, what does the whole sentence mean?”

“It means that, just as honey is sweet to my taste, so wisdom — the way of life flowing from the fear of the Lord — is sweet to my soul.”

“You’ve got it. And how does sweetness (and other flavors) work?”

“When honey hits our taste buds, we call that experience sweet.”

“And so in order to taste honey’s sweetness, you must have . . .”

“Taste buds.”

“Which means your soul also must have . . .”

“Taste buds?”

“Exactly. Your soul has taste buds, just like your tongue does. But your soul doesn’t taste honey. Instead, it tastes wisdom. As honey is sweet to your taste, so wisdom is sweet to your soul. One is physically sweet. The other is spiritually sweet.”

“I think I’m starting to get it.”

“Well, that’s good news. Because if you’re starting to really get it — not just in your mind, but in your heart — then honey is going from one degree of glory to another.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Nectar is glorified water, transformed through the Green Magick in the flowers. Honey is glorified nectar, transformed through the bees that taste it, digest it, share it, and store it in honeycomb.”

“I still think it’s weird that we eat bee vomit, by the way.”

“And now the sweetness of honey is glorified, taken from glory to glory when you — a human being with a soul that thinks and wills, knows and loves — eats honey, because it’s good, and then connects the bodily experience of honey’s sweetness to the spiritual way of life that flows from fearing the Lord.”

“Wow.”

“Bees may be able to eat honey because it’s good. But they can’t ‘know that wisdom is such to the soul.’ But you can. You can eat honey — the glorified nectar that bees make from the glorified water that flowers make — because it’s good. And then, you can know with your mind and you can heed with your will your dad’s advice. You can connect the sweetness of honey to the life of wisdom. More than that, you can chase them both back to the source.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you remember Psalm 34? ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’”

“So he’s like the honey too?”

“He’s better. He designed all of this to show forth his wisdom and glory, and to invite us further up and further in. The water, the flowers, the pollinating, the nectar, the bees, the hive, the honey, the tongue, the soul, the life of wisdom — all of these are from him and through him and to him. To him be the glory forever and ever. And now, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat some honey.”

“Me too. But we’ve got one problem, Dad.”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t think we’re having honey for Thanksgiving.”

“That’s okay. Pumpkin crunch cake will have to do.”

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