“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential” Ellen Goodman
Over the Christmas week we visited my parents’ birthplaces and hometown. Ι had set several intentions for this trip, one being, to visit spots I had frequented as a young teenager and see things through the eyes of my current age. I was reminded of her reality and take on things and I witnessed dynamics from a different vantage point. The beauty of the places was freed of memories as I re-inhabited them in a more grateful and spacious now. Outside the Metropolis (the bishopric) I remembered that in one of its rooms a good looking guy had tried over coffee or tea to persuade me to enter monastic life. The memory brought home to me the vulnerability of adolescence and how important it is to teach children ways to engage with making age appropriate choices aligned to their authentic self. It was also amusing to experience houses and rooms as smaller than how I had remembered them. In my teens I spent part of the summer time at my mother’s siblings’ homes. Their homes that now belong to other people, since they have all passed away, seemed smaller, tucked between the new houses that have risen on back yards, lemon orchards and olive groves. The sea is not visible. The dirt path that leads to the beach has been fenced.
I remembered my aunt’s simple meals based on seasonal produce and on the day of the week. On Wednesdays and Fridays she strictly abstained from meat and dairy products for religious reasons. On the other non fasting days she made dekoto for me from fresh eggs she brought from the neighbours who kept hens. It is one of the most basic and old fashioned sweets I know of. It only takes a few minutes to prepare. All you need are a very fresh egg yolk, three teaspoons of sugar! and some cocoa (optional). You beat the mixture in a cup for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved completely and it has doubled in volume. Memories of food, the stories shared around meals and emotions become intertwined and they linger in our psyche. In her book, The Endless Table: Recipes from Departed Loved Ones, Ellen Goodman has brought together leading chefs’ stories and recipes of loved ones that have died. She writes: ‘There is something both primal and intimate about the act of feasting on food and rich conversation. We share stories like heaping platters of warm pasta and pass traditions along to the next generation like salt to flavor their lives. Memories and menus are bound together in our emotional makeup, whether it’s the hot dog at Fenway Park or the iconic turkey at Thanksgiving.’
Below are some photos from our recent trip
So, may this new decade bring more peace, love, freedom and justice to the world. May we let others be and may we have faith in ourselves and life. Rick Hanson says: ‘without some realistic faith in the world and yourself, life feels shaky and scary. Faith grounds you in what’s truly reliable and supportive; it’s the antidote to the undermining of endless doubting. Brother David Steindl-Rast writes that ‘at times of doubt we can lean on our commitment to living gratefully as a reminder to look for the opportunity in a given situation’. In the last part of his pledge for grateful living he says: In thanksgiving to life, I pledge to overcome FEAR by seeing in what I might otherwise fear, the opportunity to cultivate courageous TRUST IN LIFE and so to lay the foundation for a peaceful future. Finally, may this New Year be ‘….full of things that have never been’ (Rainer Maria Rilke).