Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)
TITLE: Black, White, and Chocolate
By Theresa Santy
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This flaw remains naturally undetected within a society more concerned with restraint disorders that have more serious implications—such as alcoholism, drug dependency, gambling addiction, and etcetera. My affliction has progressed beneath all public radar.
However, my obsession with chocolate is indeed a problem. When I’ve eaten too much of this psychoactive food in too small a slice of time, my physical self takes an offensive position with break outs of pubescent-grade blemishes, and often, an itchy rash across my back. Sometimes, like the time I was seventeen and a co-worker and I polished off a triple fudge torte—which would have served ten had it not been devoured by two—I find myself shut up in a bathroom crying and shaking uncontrollably.
Recently, I stashed a party sized bag of Dove Dark Chocolate Squares—beneath my folded jeans, in a drawer, in my bedroom. Not considering my husband to be a serious threat to my supply of chocolate, I let him in on this clandestine indulgence. My children were excluded.
I was delighted with my little secret and I often slipped away, giddily, to toss a pad of the silky smooth dark chocolate goodness into my mouth. In the beginning when the bag was still new I let each square dissolve in my mouth, gradually. I was aware of the intoxicating scent, complex flavor, and relaxing sensation traveling to the far regions of my limbs. On that first day I ate only three squares. This was an exercise in restraint of monumental proportions.
However, from the very first piece of chocolate from that party sized bag, I was fastened in combat with self-control. As time passed, as it always does, the lingering high of each chocolate square grew increasingly shorter and I returned to my stash with greater frequency. An observer—if there had been one—might have thought I was swallowing the pieces whole.
By the time I reached the lowermost portion of the bag, I could no longer taste the rich flavor, yet I continued popping the chocolate into my mouth, trying desperately to regain the feeling of the very bite, and failing. My special treats had become waxy and tasteless squares of shame.
I have an aunt who is troubled with severe mouth pain from exposure to treatments for throat cancer. From her point of view strawberry Jell-O is an offensive assault to the tongue and gums. Doctors have removed her feeding tube, since her stomach is infected and layers of skin which used to surround the tube is corroded. The aunt has landed in the precarious position of having to choose between eating and dying.
On her first day without the feeding tube, my aunt with the severe mouth pain couldn’t swallow a drop of water without choking, yet she was incredibly thirsty and for reasons beyond my understanding the doctors were either unwilling or unable to hydrate her medically. When day became the middle of the night, my aunt lay awake in her hospice bed and stared at death—who by the way, was peering from just outside her room.
Suddenly and as clearly as you can hear my words now, my aunt with the severe mouth pain heard a voice which said, “If you want to drink, all you have to do is drink, but do it with thanks.”
“Oh,” replied my aunt to the voice. Then she drank and drank, but with thanks, and tremendous gratitude.
She was drinking the living water of Christ; I realized when my aunt with the severe mouth pain repeated this story. Through this experience she felt cleansed, and she was drenched in peace.
The disparity between our perspectives was enormous. I regretted the frequency at which I’ve inhaled chunks of life—without appreciation—then moved on to whatever was next. This pang of guilt weighed heavily upon me, to the point of spiritual burden, and so I wrote this prayer:
Lord, I love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind.
Forgive my human frailties.
Forgive my deficiencies of gratitude.
Lord, seize my outreaching palms and bring me out of the black and in to the white.
Help me become mindful of every bit of life, so I will not swallow it whole.
Help me taste each glorious morsel, and allow life to dissolve peacefully.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
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