Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Dear old and new friends,
“Eat, drink and be merry” would be a great motto for these December days. December 7th begins Hanukah’s eight-day festival, followed by the celebration of Christmas, and then New Year’s. The coming days call for good food and good wine…speaking of which reminds me of a true story.
Bishop Johann Fugger set off in the year 1110 from Germany to participate in Emperor Henry V’s coronation in Rome. He sent his majordomo ahead to sample the wines served in taverns along the road leading to Rome, instructing him to write “Est” (It is) over the doors of taverns serving good wine. About a hundred miles north of Rome in the small Italian town of Montefiascone he wrote over the door of the inn, “Est! Est! Est!” Bishop Fugger agreed and drank only the Montefiascone vintage for the rest of his life. He even was buried in that Italian town, and his will directed on the yearly anniversary of his death that a barrel of Montefiascone was poured over his grave! Now there’s a great wine.
The Teacher of Galilee’s words not to put new wine into old wine skins, as the old skins would break and you would lose both the skins and the new wine, seems like just folk wisdom. Yet the Gospel writer Luke tells us it is a parable! Its lesson seems to warn of not putting new radical ideas into old weary structures, which sadly happened with his teachings when the Church embraced the Gospel. In his life, Galilee’s wandering teacher went about offering the new, very potent wine of love and freedom. Any who dared to drink this new wine quickly developed bizarre behaviors, acting as if the world had been turned upside down. They drunkenly loved their enemies along with everyone else; feeling liberated they ignored those who tried to hold power over them. The inebriated followers also were guilty of WWI: Worshiping While under the Influence by not observing official prayer or temple worship.
Secular and religious authorities denounced this dangerous new wine, so the teacher wisely instructed his disciples to imitate him and be bootleggers, and like him to carry hidden this new wine in skins in his high boots. They were to offer it only to those tired of the drabness of being sober and wanted to get merrily drunk. If you desire to drink this wondrous new wine, don’t look to the Church to provide it; her wine cellar holds only the old vintage, some so old it has turned to sour vinegar. So you must become a bootlegger and create your “new” wine in your own bathtub winery.
Such new, tasty intoxicating spirits are especially needed since the over-civilized mechanization of life has caused us to lose our human capacity to both deeply love and to be alluringly lovely. Here’s a “new” wine recipe: Absorb as much as possible of the vital life energy of love by loving those in the center of your life more deeply and more passionately each day than you did the day before. But be cautious…don’t love only with your head (cerebral=non-alcoholic wine) but passionately with all your body, and extend your love boundaries by physically embracing more, including unlovable persons.
Finally, be a bootlegger. As the Teacher taught, keep your forbidden booze hidden until you offer some to some sober sad soul who asks how you can be so cheerful and happy in such terrible times? By making your own Galilean new wine and sharing it with the truly thirsty, you’ll find these holidays days to be “Est! Est! Est!” merry.