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Our church reader board says something to the effect of, “don’t get bitter, get better.”

All in good humor here, but the jury is still out deliberating that one. It could be a while. One can only maintain so much cheerful fortitude until one begins to crack, bits of cynicism start to slip in, and one must simply wrap themselves in all that delicious irony and bitterness.

I suppose one cannot really defend bitterness, certainly not as a way of life, but we shall try anyway. Bitter means “angry, hurt, or resentful, because of  bad experiences or injustice.” Well yes, there is that, scads and scads of injustice, topped off by endlessly bearing witness to human stupidity. That’s always fun.

Bitter also means, “having a sharp, pungent taste or smell; not sweet.” Not to complain here, but “sweet” seems to be causing all sorts of health problems. Than we have the cloying smell of funeral lilies and the horror of cough syrup. “Not sweet” needs some context here, because sweet can be a very unpleasant thing indeed.

Bitter is also “liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails or as a medicinal substance to promote appetite or digestion.”

You don’t say?? Forget drinking heavily, that tends to just create bigger problems and most demons know how to swim much better than we do anyway, so pouring liquor on them is a terrible idea. But as a spiritual metaphor, it’s quite perfect. Bitterness for medicinal purposes, to promote appetite or digestion. Indeed!

Perhaps one needs the pungent smell of bitterness now and then, to stimulate one’s appetite and promote digestion.  Bitterness for medicinal purposes. Digestion of the things that don’t go down so easily and an appetite now stimulated in anticipation of something much better.