The Art of Savoring

I’ve had the joy of visiting a small Christian community in California where—amidst the hustle and flow of daily life—everything stops 10 minutes short of sunset. Gathering in the small yard between houses, with celebratory drinks in hand, all faces turn west toward the coastal foothills to savor the setting sun.

Depending on the season, the sky may ignite in Pentecost reds and oranges above the resurrection gold of the chaparral or it may swirl in Advent blues, royal purples, and joyous pinks over hills wrapped in verdant winter green. The ceremony may last only a few minutes or may inaugurate supper, conversation, and a bonfire. Either way, it exemplifies the art of savoring.

“Savor” comes from the Latin word to taste or the ability to detect differences. It is a quality that appeals to the senses; something that is savory is flavorful. Etymologically, savor is related to sapientia or wisdom—sensible, judicious, the ability to discern fine distinction. It harkens to the poetry of Sappho. (“Here roses leave shadows on the ground/ and cold springs bubble through the apple branches.”)

Savoring is antithetical to the consumerist myth, which claims that individuals will be satisfied and successful through buying, owning, and consuming, in quick succession. The art of savoring is strategically discouraged in a capitalist market economy in which labor and land, humans and nature (and the enjoyment thereof) are subordinate to the hungers of the prevailing economic system.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2006
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