I have before me a (rapidly) diminishing pile of white cheddar Cheez-Its. I say this with no shame. As far as snack foods go, these are the perfection of years of scientific research into the taste palate of human beings. They are crunchy, but not overly so, dusted with the nearly explosive umami flavor of a white cheddar cheese, with the correct amount of salt in each glorious cracker. There is a bliss in placing one on the tongue and letting the cheese dust dissolve for just a wondrous second before allowing the still-crisp cracker to be crushed tenderly between molars.
Do you savor things? Do you enjoy your food, or do you wolf it down as fuel alone? Do you enjoy your reading, or are you so eager to start the next one that words blur together? Do you notice the trees, plants, sunrise or sunset as you drive to and from work, or is that guy in front of you just driving too. darn. slowly…
As I pop another cracker into my mouth, I cannot help but wonder how many meals I missed savoring due to feeling the need to hurry. Savoring actually takes some work in today’s culture. We all feel so busy that taking any time to enjoy something as simple as a Cheez-It or the newly bloomed flowers makes us feel guilty. What is that kind of busy-ness doing to our kids?
I think it’s developing generations that are afraid of boredom. Our phones save us regularly from the tedium of boredom. How did we function before such entertainment was readily available out our fingertips? Well, I guess we used our imaginations. We developed ideas. We reflected on life. We thought through our stories, days, and legacies while staring at the back of the coupon guy’s head in the checkout line.
I think I learned to savor from my family. My mom and I would share a bag of Smartpop White Cheddar (!) popcorn on car trips and enjoy licking the white cheese dust off of our fingers to get that last little bit of flavor. I remember sitting in the backseat of a car and getting passed a slice from a block of cheddar cheese on a Saturday afternoon with my granddad and cousin. I remember sitting in a sushi restaurant discovering that love for the first time with my dad in Las Vegas. Or Sunday afternoon lunches where we’d walk through a grocery store and build a snack meal after church.
We may be losing the ability to savor. Because we constantly seek stimulation, we lose the ability to stop and truly think about the media, food, and other entertainment we consume. I’m not saying we have to write a full break-down of character development and plot criticism for every show or film a detailed video of our thoughts on the scrumptious dessert we found. I am saying that we can unlock a level of enjoyment and pleasure that goes beyond the scientifically designed, pre-packaged consumables that get shoveled into our mouths, eyes, and ears every day. If we’re just constantly shoveling it in, how can we be discerning about what we like, or don’t like? A simple question, “Why?” can help us make some difference. “Why do I like this?” Our answer might surprise us, like with these Cheez-Its!
My small pile of Cheez-Its is gone. But gentle piano/cello/Celtic mix is playing on my office radio, so all is not lost. A beautiful chord resolution just happened removing the well-developed tension in the choral piece, giving me a sense of peace. And what should I find at the bottom of the box? A few more!
Maybe that’s what savoring is: stopping for a moment and asking, “Why do I enjoy this?” See, God made our bodies, made us to enjoy life and the world He created. Wait, do we savor worship? Do we savor the silence of prayer? Do we savor the rush of singing God’s praises? Do we savor the words speaking to us from the Bible?
We’re encouraged to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Do we savor those tastes, those moments when God meets us in the daily back and forth of life turning a seemingly mundane moment into something holy, and wholly wonderful? And do we model savoring to our kids? Do they see us savor worship? Or are Sunday morning and Wednesday night hassles, full of frustration and clenched-jaw whisper shouting?
Slow down and savor. Teach your kids to slow down and savor – it’s a skill, and too few people know how to do it. So train yourself. Be present. Slow down. Savor. And then teach your kids how to.