Chemotherapy has made all my favorite foods tasteless! No matter how much sugar I pour on my Cheerios and banana in the morning, I can’t taste it. My favorite lunch of popcorn tastes like cardboard. And my usual casseroles just don’t taste right.
Recently, I decided to try an open-faced sandwich which I usually save for summer time because it tastes great with fresh tomatoes. I bought Italian bread, spread it with Italian dressing, topped it with mozzarella cheese and broiled tomato slices. As it baked, the aroma was tantalizing. I finished it off with a slice of bacon and sat down to try it. And I said out loud, “This is really GOOD!” (Since then I have found that rye bread with sharp cheese and bread and butter pickles also pleasantly tease my taste buds.)
As is my nature, I reflected on this little event. How striking that I was so happy to find something tasty to eat. Of all the struggles of being newly diagnosed with cancer, this one choice made that day seem more bearable. I learned again that it is the simple things that give us joy.
This anecdote reminds me of the Old Testament story of how God provided for the grumbling Israelites as they transversed the desert for 40 years: God rained down manna every morning as long as they needed food. Manna was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. However, there were some restrictions. They could only gather 1 omer (2 quarts) per person in the family and they could not save it. If they did, it would breed worms and stink. Of course, some people took more than allotted and tried to save it. They were crushed to find that the manna was inedible. Back to grumbling.
The story made me think about how often I find a moment of simple joy and then come up with a way to spoil it. Is the sun out? Well, it probably won’t last. Is the grass green and flourishing; now it has to be mowed. This sweater is really warm; too bad it has to be dry cleaned.
Every day is filled with little moments of joy that can bring a smile all day long: a kitten pouncing, a baby smiling, a card from a friend in the mail, a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day, an old song from the 60’s on the radio, a familiar passage of scripture coming to mind just when we need it, a hug from a grandchild, blooms on an African violet – the taste of a great sandwich. The next time you are given one of these gifts from God, take time to savor it. And then file it away for future reference when grumpiness and grumbling are your “modus operandi” for the day. I know that for me the joy of that sandwich will last into eternity.