I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. Song of Solomon 3:5
Ooey gooey, yum yum. Seven years ago on a December day, I walk down the main road of the Zografou suburb of Athens. A little coffee shop rests on the right up ahead. I am walking downhill evading broken sidewalk pieces and dirty surprises from animals and lemon trees on the concrete. I take in the first sights of Christmas time in Greece. Window displays are decorated in all its sparkly glory. The bakeries display festooned cakes and cookies of glazed sugar and colorful sprinkles. I am watching the people walking and standing around me. Some are waiting for the bus to take them somewhere. A women’s feet are very swollen, old and about to burst, and I imagine her great pain walking on this hill where she abides. The little coffee shop is of the variety that old Greek men prefer. It appears to be their place where they have nothing else to do but sit outside and enjoy each other’s company, a cup of coffee, and the hustle and bustle around them. The name of the neighborhood is Greek for “painter.” I hold that fact in my pocket like a small secret between me and God. Of all the cities in the world and all the suburbs, He would bring me here for a season. The old men are more excited than usual. One stands up and reaches for something from another. A tomato? No, I see it now as a type of fruit he grabs greedily. I am walking, but something in me grabs this moment in my memory. I am passing by and experiencing the delight of one of the other men as he raises his spoon towards the fruit. The top is cut open like the top of a pumpkin. He dips his spoon in and takes a bite of the juicy fruit that he cups in his hand. It is the most lucid memory of delight and anticipation.
I think about it every year back in America when I go to Costco and see the pack of persimmons finally on display. I throw them in my cart whenever I see them. And then, I wait. You see, after I saw that man hold that spoon and take a bite, I took inventory of that moment. I would not forget what that fruit looked like now that I so badly had to taste it. When I next went to the market, I bought several. They are, after all, beautiful and surely the best treat in the whole world, according to that man’s eyes. I cut the top off and take a spoon to the fruit. And it is awful. Astringent is the best word the internet can provide for me. It is the worst taste and feeling in my mouth. I talk to a friend about the fruit, and I am told to wait until it is very gooey and ripe. She says it is popular with the older generation. I remember my grandpa picking persimmons from a tree on his farm sixteen years ago. I did not enjoy them as a child. They were different shaped in Virginia and these Greek ones were more full. Plus, all fruit is better in Greece, and did I mention that man’s eyes as he took his first bite? I am determined. I listen to my friend. I let the tannin levels reduce as the fruit matures. I wait until the persimmon is very gooey and ripe. It takes days and then weeks. It feels so wrong like it might burst at my touch, but I have learned to trust the persimmon’s Advent message. Wait. And then, the gooey gooey yum yum comes in the best little jelly seeds with a sweet and cinnamon and tangy flavor all at the same time.
Last month at youth group, where I help facilitate discussions on tough subjects, we talked about the foundations of our identity in Christ. We ended with being created as male and female. Our teacher shares that Jesus is the most sexually fulfilled being of all time and come back in 2020 to hear more. Wait. Wait. Wait.
Advent is waiting. Advent is anticipation. Advent is that man’s eyes. First, I need to know my need for Jesus. I need to know He will satisfy when I wait for Love. Christmas comes. The persimmon is ready. And then we enter into Epiphany. It is a time to reflect on what it all means. It is a time to enjoy tasting the sweetness.