Sunday, December 17, 2006


I'm sitting in a special place, a station on the great pilgrimage in the perfection of giving. This is a place where they practice the art of tucking you in through the medium of food and drink. Special beings work here. There is one whom I am convinced is an angel, she's so obvious about it. Poised, always with a smile that says "I see you, and I rejoice that you have the brains to come here and recieve the gift of food that I have to set before you."

Today it is my good fortune to arrive when they are still placing offerings of breakfast upon the altar of each lucky visitor's table. The entire front of this temple is glass, floor to ceiling, framed in wood columns. The rays of the morning sun venture across the counters and tables below, across the balcony, where a picture of a bull in fields of umber hangs, and into the inner sanctum, a room with three tables. The walls, painted the color of sunflower petals, glow gently in the light that penetrates this far.

At the table at the far back two men sit in companionable silence, sipping their cappuccinos. The man on the left is no giant, but he has a certain wiry intensity, the sort of person that one could easily imagine sitting at a bench with a set of wrenches spread out, adjusting a set of battered but functional Campagnolo derailleurs on his ancient racing bike, a large black fingerprint of chain grease on the side of his generous semitic nose. But here he sits, with no grease spots. His eyes light up, an smile comes to his lips, then he tries to restrain it so as not to telegraph his intention, but he can't quite stop it; you can see it lurking there as he tries to hold a straight face. He leans over to his companion and says a few quick words. His face lights up with a smile of delight as his friend snorts in amusement. Brothers, maybe, or lifelong friends.

The priestess of this temple comes to me with the holy beverage. She is tall, slender, focused, blonde. She moves like the heroine from some anime future, no motion wasted, focused purely on each guest, one by one. The cappuccino is perfect.

An older man comes to sit on the balcony; an intriguing woman comes to sit with him. She goes back and forth several times, for mysterious reasons which become clear when her husband finally follows her. They all sit together, smiling. Husband and wife adore each other quietly, without letting it distract them from their visit with the older gentleman. The woman has a lovely smile, which she offers generously and frequently.

The other table in my room is occupied by an older woman, a lecturer at the college. She is in a hurry to eat, but couldn't resist stopping here on the way into work, to let the magic of the temple imbue her spirit before appearing before her students. She takes her leftovers to go and leaves, quickly but reluctantly.

An air of quiet happiness settles over the temple as the worshipers enjoy the sacred communion. I read my book, a rather deep work on continuation passing. I've studied it before. Magically, here in the temple, the meaning washes over me and I understand. When finally I leave, the two gentlemen in the back are still sipping cappuccino.