It ought to come as a surprise to exactly no one that I have a marked tendency towards sarcasm. Although I have been known to complain from time to time, I try to have a humorous response to the complaining and griping of others, saying things like, “Would you like some cheese with your whine?” Of course, others could say the same thing about me, and they probably do underneath their breath when I complain about something that is bothering me . Part of the beauty, at least to me, of such an expression is that there is a clear contrast between what is meant and what is being referenced. Wine and cheese is a classy way to spend time, and although I am not much of a drinker I have no problem being around large amounts of alcohol and I am particularly fond of eating cheese. In stark contrast to this, whining is not a classy way to spend the time and it is something that few people enjoy hearing although many people can put up with it if someone is sufficiently enjoyable most of the time. At least I hope that is the case with me.
Today that was not the kind of cheese and wine I had to deal with. Instead, along with a large number of other brethren here at the Feast of Tabernacles in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, I spent the last hour or so of sunlight of the Feast of Tabernacles and the first part of the Eighth Day on top of a lovely hilltop standing and drinking (water, fruit juice, and the like) and eating cheese and crackers and chatting with the brethren and even doing a bit of singing to celebrate the beginning of the Holy Day. The view was a gorgeous one, with full sight of the Caribbean Sea in the fading daylight. It was the kind of evening where people sailed on azure seas while others watched them from the heights above, where a hike (or drive) up bumpy paths and some time spent among the rocks around a gazebo was an enjoyable and thoughtful way to begin a Holy Day, definitely the first time I can remember doing such an activity.
Naturally, I wondered where this particular tradition came from. After all, whenever there is something unusual that I encounter, I like to know its history and its context, as there are generally reasons why people do what they do. As it happens, the origins of this particular tradition spring from the experiences of our festival coordinator in Italy, where the Eighth Day began with a tiring bus trip back from some rigorous excursion. It struck the pastor that there was a better way to celebrate the close of the Feast of Tabernacles than to engage in exhausting travels. Now, I am by no means unfamiliar with exhausting travels, but I can definitely understand that there is a balance in the way that rigorous travels should be balanced with more relaxing and tranquil activities, and standing around and eating tasty food and enjoying pleasant conversation is definitely a tranquil and relaxing activity well worth enjoying, even for someone as not particularly tranquil as myself. If someone like me can recognize the enjoyment of wine (and other drinks) along with snack food, then surely their value can be recognized even more easily by people who are more peaceful in their habits and disposition.
After all, this particular event changed our own habits in terms of meals. We had thought to go out for dinner, but given the fact that tomorrow will have two services and I will be pretty busy–songleading in the morning, singing a duet for special music in the morning, and leading (and singing!) in special music in the afternoon service, along with at least one practice, my stepfather wanted to go to bed early and didn’t want to eat right before trying to sleep, which I thought a sensible idea. So in the heat of the afternoon after choir practice this afternoon we headed down the road and enjoyed a tasty and reasonably priced lunch at Carro’s Kitchen, which I had seen and wanted to try. If you are ever in Rodney Bay and want a tasty and large meal for a reasonable price (around $10), they are open through lunch as well as dinner, even an early dinner. I highly recommend them. Anyway, it was considered by the festival coordinator here to be so important that people be able to enjoy fellowshipping with some light snacks to begin this Sabbath day that there were a couple of people who were mobilized to drive those who were unable to walk, which left no good excuses for not coming to enjoy everything. And so we did, and pondered what it would be like in terms of preparing the world for the general resurrection when the saints will judge unbelievers as well as the (rebellious) angels. What an unusual situation that will be, to be sure, but what a glorious one as well.
 See, for example: