I was lucky enough to take a little holiday in a remote part of Argyll this month, and the owners of the cottage we rented provided us with complimentary biscuits. Border is a well-known, well-loved Scottish biscuit brand although I didn’t recognise them at first because of the new packaging. I’m very partial to their Dark Chocolate Gingers but this was the first time I’d come across a Lemon Drizzle Melt on either side of the border.

The LDM is an exceptionally soft, citrusy butter biscuit with the sort of ‘drizzle’ icing you associate more with lemon cakes in a satisfyingly regular zig zag pattern. These really are melt-in-your-mouth good and with the Argyll weather being drizzly for at least a few hours on most days, it seemed appropriate to retreat to the attic now and again with a LDM and a cup of tea. Although they may be harder to come by in England, I’m going to have to search for them here now I know they exist. In the end I think I managed to put away three from our complimentary box, not without strong competition from the rest of the family.

It didn’t occur to me at the time but the LDM’s citrus flavours and drizzle motif are in keeping with some of themes prevalent in the festival of Tabernacles or Sukkot, which fell in the week I was on holiday. Sukkot is the one festival in the Old Testament or Jewish Bible the Gentiles (i.e. the non Jewish nations) are enjoined to celebrate – so much so that in Zechariah 14 we are told that any nation that does not send representatives up to Jerusalem for it will get no rainfall! I don’t suppose people pray for rain much up in Scotland, but in a hot and dusty Middle Eastern country it’s customary to pray for it during Sukkot. In Jesus’s time, on the last and greatest day of the feast, the offerings in the temple would have included lavish libations of water drawn from the spring of Gihon. It was this day of the festival that was the context for his promise that all who believed in him would flow with living water…

These days many Jewish families construct their own sukkah, an open-air booth or hut covered with branches, and take their meals (and sometimes sleep in it) during the eight day holiday, to remind them of the temporary dwellings their ancestors lived in for forty years in the wilderness. It’s meant to be a joyful festival, but there is also an important life lesson here: “a tutorial in how to live with insecurity,” as the late great Jonathan Sachs put it.

…we sit in a sukkah, the tabernacle itself, which is just a shed, a shack, open to the sky, with just a covering of leaves for a roof. It’s our annual reminder of how vulnerable life is, how exposed to the elements. And yet we call Sukkot our festival of joy, because sitting there in the cold and the wind, we remember that above us and around us are the sheltering arms of the divine presence…

Illustration of a sukkah (1300s Italy) from the British Library.

Perhaps that message has greater resonance for us all this year, certainly in Britain when in the space of just a few weeks we have been subject to rapid change in government. The phrase ‘safe as houses’ no longer seems to apply to many bastions of security, not even our Houses of Parliament. And yet we are truly fortunate in being preserved from greater insecurity still: from the devastations of war, of natural calamities and the civil unrest we are seeing elsewhere in the world.

Amid all this shaking – national and global – there is an invitation to put our trust in God: “Oh Lord, you have been our dwelling place for all generations,” Psalm 90 tells us, one of the prayers of Moses who led the Israelites when they lived in their temporary dwellings in the wilderness. Come rain or shine, sweet or sour, maelstroms or meltdowns – he is our refuge – our forever home. Not a bad takeaway for the Lemon Drizzle Melt (which also makes a good takeaway with a strong cup of tea this rainy October!)

Further Delectation

When life gives you lemons make lemon biscuits… Here’s a tasty looking recipe.

Know your Etrog – some handy information on the ancient citrus fruit associated with Tabernacles.

Drawn to Celtic Climes? Pray through the changing seasons with Celtic Daily Prayer.

For when you just need to escape for a bit… Some beautiful music from House of Waters:

If you would like to keep this bestiary free from ads and see more entries more regularly you are welcome to contribute to the Biscuit Jar.

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