There is a grocery store near my apartment, part of a chain of average quality. It's where I go when I am tired, or time is pressing me hard, or the weather is bad. But today, because the sun was shining so as to make glad the heart, I took a longer excursion, and walked down the big hill to a place called Garden Gourmet. The staff is friendly, the produce is quite fine, there is a pleasing selection of cheeses, and and I am often surprised by finding something for which I didn't know I was searching.
Today I came around a corner, and found myself standing in front of a shelf of Greek imported foods.
There were tall bottles of green olive oil, bags of dried fava beans, jars of dark-gold honey, cans labeled with pictures of the Acropolis and Greek lettering in blue that for all I know said "Temple-in-a Tin". On a whim, I put a jar of the honey in my basket.
When I'd hiked back up the hill to my apartment, I brewed a pot of tea, and while letting it steep, put the groceries away. Then I opened the honey and dipped a silver spoon into the liquid amber. It tasted sweet on my tongue. All of a sudden (as Mark says so often in his gospel), I was in a small hotel dining room in Athens. I had risen at dawn, and slipped downstairs alone to breakfast. Coffee, pungent and grainy, was served in a small cup. In a white bowl before me was unsweetened yogurt, thick from having been strained, and creamy with all the butterfat of the good milk it was made from, and a fresh fig, halved. A little pot of honey was set before me; I drizzled a spoonful atop the yogurt, and took a bite. Now, I'd tasted exquisite yogurts in my life, and lovely honeys, but nothing quite like this. I could smell flowers, and thyme, and pine trees. I could almost hear the bees. I finished my meal in a trance of sensual pleasure and contentment, in a dream of a summer day, in the making of a memory so potent that thirty years later, in the snow-covered Bronx, it could take me back to that morning in one sweet taste.
That was just my breakfast in Greece. I haven't even begun to talk about…
… the light!