Sweetness to the Soul

- Jamie A. Hughes

“Take it,” my husband said, offering me a glob of wax on the edge of a knife. “Just eat the entire thing, comb and all.”

Incredulous, I held it in my hand. It didn’t look particularly tasty. But I figured if he, an experienced apiarist, said it was, I had no reason to argue. 

The wax was still warm after an afternoon in the Georgia sun, and when I gently squeezed it, golden liquid dripped between my fingers. To keep any from going to waste, I shoved the whole mess in my mouth and began to chew. And have mercy, what I tasted in that moment changed everything.

I hate to tell you this, but when it comes to honey, you’ve been lied to your entire life.

The difference between what’s in the fat-bellied bears on grocery store shelves and the real thing is as drastic as night and day. They look similar to be sure, but one spoonful of the genuine article will turn you off the mass produced stuff forever. Both are sweet, yes, but natural honey is layered with flavors, all of which are collected in the bees’ daily travels. Eating it allows you to truly get a taste of the place you call home.

Assisting with the harvest each year, I’ve learned the difference between clover and tupelo honeys, which are sweet and mild, and that harvested from the sourwood tree, which is spicy and smells like anise. Avocado honey is dark and buttery, much like the fruit itself, and it is radically different from that made from sage. Orange blossom honey is the perfect compliment to a cup of chamomile tea, and the kind created from wild sumac makes the best loaf of zucchini bread you’ve ever tasted. 

For most of my life, I’d assumed the stuff sitting alongside the jars of peanut butter and jelly was the real McCoy. In my mind, honey—like a Model T—came in one color and tasted the same from sea to shining sea. Little did I know that what had made it authentic (the nectar and pollen) had been sacrificed, scoured out in the name of food safety. 

Perhaps that’s the reason why scriptures like Psalm 119:103-104 didn’t have much of an impact on me. In it, the psalmist writes, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (ESV). 

But now, when I eat honey—something made by creatures God designed for one task and one task alone—I better understand the goodness of his creation, his laws, and his actions. When I close my eyes and savor what the Almighty has made, I better understand him. 

We’re fond of saying the Lord is rich in mercy (Eph 2:4). But when I taste honey on my fingers and deeply inhale its scent, I understand that mercy in a way that words cannot capture. I know deep in my bones that God, and everything he made, is indeed good.

Jamie A. Hughes is the managing editor of In Touch magazine, a publication of In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate of the University of North Florida (MA English), she enjoys writing, playing the French horn, and watching St. Louis Cardinals baseball. She and her husband Wayne (in addition to caring for a backyard full of bees) are the servants of two delightful felines. To see more of Jamie's writing, check out tousledapostle.com or follow her on Twitter at @tousledapostle