Taste and see how good Adonai is; happy the one who takes refuge in God! (34:9)
I was listening to a “How Stuff Works” podcast recently on synesthesia. Synesthesia is the blending of the senses, when, for example, music or language is experienced as color or taste or smell. I am fascinated by people with this ability (my wife and daughter among them). The hosts of the podcast kept referring to synesthesia as a ‘disorder,’ which really bothered me. It is better described as a neurological condition, one which potentially can give the affected person a level of creativity and insight that amazes us neurotypicals. Jimi Hendrix, David Hockney, Billy Joel, Duke Ellington are just a handful of the artists and musicians blessed with synesthesia.
The Psalmist’s suggestion that one might taste God’s goodness, like the suggestion that the Israelites saw the thunder of the Sinai revelation (Exodus 20:18), suggests that at least some of the Biblical writers appreciated the ability to perceive the world in non-standard ways.
All language about God is metaphorical. I understand how to take refuge in a basement against a tornado. I don’t really understand how to take refuge in God – it is certainly not a literal image. But we all use such language all the time, and if I don’t think about it too carefully I know exactly what it means to take refuge in God, just as I instinctually know how to taste goodness.
The Passover Seder bridges the gap between the symbolic and the actual by inviting us to eat ritual foods which transport us back to our time as slaves and experience the bitterness, the tears, and the oppression of bondage. Thus, even those of us who are neurotypical can engage many of our sense, tasting and smelling, hearing and seeing, in the Passover experience.