I’ve been craving curry lately. Spicy things: salsa…that’s all I can think of.

It’s one of those times I wonder if I’m pregnant.  Oh, wait. I always do. 

As I sat finishing my Thai yellow curry this afternoon, skin sweating just a little, nose on the runny side, I thought about what this biological urge for spicy might mean. And it reminded me the Chinese already figured it out. 

Our bodies need five flavors to function, to maintain life flow and balance. I’m not sure what to make of their theory of qi and all that, but they’re onto something with their approach to diet and health.

According to this article from PingMing Health, each of the five flavors in food impact a specific essential organ. I find this so fascinating. 

Heart – Bitter
Liver – Sour

Spleen – Sweet

Lung – Spicy

Kidney – Salty

The functions of each flavor are relatively vague, but the article goes into more detail for each element. I recommend you read it.

Sour flavour can calm the body.
Bitter flavour can clear heat.

Sweet flavour can tonify the body.

Spicy flavour can expel wind and cold from the body.

Salty flavour can help the body to dissolve stagnation.
[photo cred: landsofwisdom.com]

The article describes the path of each food and how cravings aid in diagnosis: 

“The famous ancient traditional Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neiing, records that after eating, sour flavoured foods goes to the liver first, bitter flavour goes to the heart first, sweet flavour go to the spleen first, spicy flavour goes to the lung first, and salty flavour goes to the kidney first. 

The organs try to balance themselves through your diet. When an organ is sick, the body can tell you what organ may be impaired through cravings for a particular taste.In the clinic, we consider the flavours as part of the traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, to discover what organs may be in disorder. 

For example, my clients often complain of cravings for sweets, which usually indicates spleen deficiency, because the spleen organ likes sweets.”

And of course, floaty philosopher that I am, I wonder what this tells us about our souls. How we stay in balanced in life. 

And maybe how sometimes, the adventures or relationships we crave reveal the imbalances and lacks in our “soul diet”

Sometimes life offers us the flavor. A death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a hope or goal that fizzles on impact: these can send us reeling. And suddenly we’re in a new flavored season, one of sour or bitter. 

Primal beings that we are, we seek pleasure and avoid pain. We nearly always want sweet, or at least, we aim to avoid the bitter and the sour. But sometimes they come to us, and there is a balancing that happens. 

These moments of pain and sorrow are the ones that make us human. We stop doubting Jesus’ humanity when we see his loneliness and fear in the garden of Eden, his compassion at the lost hearts of people  who had no one to care for them, his grief when his friends, Lazarus and John, died. 

His humanity is vibrantly on display maybe not as much in his laughter or statements of irony, but most in his aching. 

Pain makes us raw; reveals who we are. We stop propping up facades, and painful as it is, it’s nice to let the fake go for a while. Maybe forever.

Then sometimes, we go in search of the missing flavors. We can feel our lives are missing the spicy, the adventures, the unexpected. Or the sweetness of companionship or feeling rightly fitted somewhere. 

And I think that says something about where we are and what we need. In other words, the experiences we seek reveal what is missing. Seems obvious, right? 

The problem arises when we try to forge the adventure ourselves, when we stop trusting in Someone who loves us more and out of fear of getting left out or being alone forever, we try to create the missing thing.

But it often feels empty when we do it ourselves. 

I don’t know what else to say but this: He made you this way, made me this way. He wants me to taste all the flavors. Wants his life flow active in my veins and mind and spirit. He wants me to taste the sweet, to have the spicy of adventure and the alive of the sour and the bitter. It’s all part of being human. 

And Jesus is there to remember with us in vivid color what it feels like to be fully alive, fully human, fully here. And he is fully with us. Always. 

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