For me, it might be choosing the wine. You’d think that someone who likes the fruit of the vine as much as I do would find this an inspiring job (another tasting? Yes please!), but that’s not the case.
Robbie and I are blessed to have befriended a lot of wine enthusiasts who, over the years, have graciously shared some of their favorites from the cellar. Not wanting these folks to show up on our big day and gag over our offerings, I decided to tap into the wisdom of Proverbs 15:22 (“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed”) and get their input, up front.
The first guy was happy to take my call. Twenty minutes later, I knew more than I ever wanted to about the difference between a Cabernet and a Malbec (which doesn’t seem like much, actually), the “lock” some growers had on different price points, and how Argentina was producing some really good varietals right now. Or maybe it was Australia. I can’t remember. (See?)
The next fella’s reply came via email and was incredibly well organized. Fifteen of his favorites, all listed with accompanying prices, commentary (“People think it is expensive because he was once a ‘cult’ winemaker”) and an assessment of each wine’s “drinkability.” Drinkability? I thought that mostly came down to whether or not you had a glass and corkscrew. (And I’m not really positive about the glass.)
I think my favorite tip came from the wife of one of the connoisseurs, who offered to hook me up with his buyer. I spent about half a second fantasizing about how I could work that relationship into party conversation (“I was cleaning the lint trap on the dryer the other day, and it reminded me of something that my wine buyer said…”), but I knew I couldn’t pull it off. Sensing my growing panic, the wife hung up the phone and then graciously sent me this text: “It’s going to be great no matter what you serve. We’re Episcopalian. We’re happy with anything.”
That’s what I’m talking about!
I know I sound overwhelmed, but I actually loved all the expert feedback, if only because it proved the point that Jen Wilkin makes in her fabulous book, Women of the Word. On the theory that you can’t love what you don’t know, Wilkin’s mission is to help us go after God not just with our hearts but also with our minds.
Right off the bat Wilkins taps into scientific studies done by Yale brainiac Paul Bloom, who specializes in – get this – “pleasure research.” (Talk about a sweet job.) Bloom cites a clear link between knowledge and enjoyment, maintaining that our pleasure in something increases when we learn its “history, origin, and deeper nature.” For Bloom, a ready example is wine: “The key to enjoying wine isn’t just to guzzle a lot of expensive wine,” he says. “It’s to learn about wine.”
Our grape-loving friends would add a hearty amen right there. The more they know, the more they love. (And presumably, the more they drink. But far be it from me to point any fingers. Especially when they invite me to share the love.)
Wilkin takes Bloom’s research and slaps it onto two of her favorite topics: Bible study, and our relationship with God. “Finding greater pleasure in God will not result from pursuing more experiences of him,” she writes, “but from knowing him better.” Instead of making the Bible “all about me” (wisdom for my life, direction for my relationships, comfort for my sorrows), she encourages us to approach it as a book that is “all about Him.” As we get to know God’s character, we can’t help but fall deeper in love…and as a result, we are changed.
I may never be a sommelier (I think those people have to know the difference between Argentina and Australia, for starters), but when it comes to knowing the true vine – the one from John 15, who makes our lives bear fruit – I want to drink deeply of the stuff Wilkin is peddling. I don’t want to just study the Bible; I want to study God – to know him better, to love him more, to let him transform both my heart and my mind.
And as for the wedding wine, well, I can’t worry about that anymore. I figure that the same God who turned water into wine at that wedding in Cana 2000 years ago is still showing up at parties today. Maybe he can make a few tweaks when nobody’s looking.