28 September 2011

Become a Connoisseur

Another day of tending to the family vineyard... The Lady of the Song lifts her eyes toward the westering sun and rubs her calloused palms. As she walks home now from her labors, the sting of doubt begins its burrowing: What if in his wanderings, her shepherd has seen the palace ladies with their soft-city whiteness, and has perhaps acquired a taste for something more high-maintenance than she can offer?

How she misses him now, for the hours since last they spoke have been too many. So it is that when she arrives home and sees him waiting there, her words gush forth, bloody with emotion:

Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do you shepherd your sheep?
Where do you lay them in the midday heat?
Lest I wander around by the flocks of your fellows.
(Song 1:7)

She wants them to share their days together, and she is willing to inconvenience herself to make it possible. But how will he respond? What will be the very first words of the Lover in the Song?

If you do not know, O most beautiful of women... (To hear it in Hebrew, listen to the podcast.) Let us linger over the genius of the Lover, over the way that his very first words put all her fears to rest. What was it that he called her again? "O most beautiful of women."

Perhaps some would say that when he calls his Lady most beautiful, he is indulging in romantic exaggeration. But these are not the words of an exaggerator; these are the words of a connoisseur. Our Lover is an expert in his Lady’s unique brand of beauty. He is sensitive to its nuances, and alert to its subtleties. Love has adjusted his vision to more keenly appreciate the beauty enshrined in his beloved. He is not exaggerating. To him, she is the most beautiful of women.

Gentlemen, consider how many times a day you see pictures of women with world class beauty. On television, in magazines, and the internet, you are bombarded with image after image of stunning ladies the like of which men from an earlier time would encounter only once in a decade. What effect do you think this has? It has a desensitizing effect.

An aficionado of fine wine develops a palate so sensitive as to be able to tell you about what kind of wood the wine’s barrel was made of. But give that same man a glass of cola every hour for two weeks, and the overpowering sweetness of the drink will deaden his palate to the subtleties of wine. He will become desensitized.

So it goes with us. This isn’t merely about the sexuality of the images; it is about their sheer volume. So try this: Avoid looking at pictures of studio prepared women, whether on screen or in print. Develop a palate that is sensitive to the beauty of your lady.  Resensitize by closing yourself off to the colas of airbrushed beauty. Imitate the Lover of the Song, become your lady’s connoisseur and rediscover her as the most beautiful among women.

Listen to the podcast version of this post here.


Post a Comment