Saturday, April 21, 2007

In Taberna

I have been a fan of Carl Orff since I first heard his grand cycle of mediaeval Latin drinking songs set to music, Carmina Burana. This dramatic musical production is named after an eponymous collection of mediaeval drinking songs (about 200 of them!) which was put together over the years by the amoral scholars of central and western Europe as they wandered from town to town. Some are still familiar tunes. Who can forget the opening and closing song in Orff's version, O Fortuna, for example?

But why did this come to mind on a balmy Saturday night? Well, because Saturday to me is both the Old Testament Sabbath as well as a night for gastronomy, astronomy and oenology. And when a night is all these things and more, one suddenly notices unusual connections. As they say, "In vino, veritas." In wine, (there is) truth. Yes, indeed. I was looking up from a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon when it hit me. (No, not the wine, the thought.)

The word 'tabernacle' and the word 'tavern' are directly related. In fact, 'tabernacle' means 'a small tavern' in Latin. I knew these things all along, but the two words had never juxtaposed themselves in my mind for all the years of my life. How... odd. As is the case with such incidents, you "see with blinding sight" as old Dylan used to say, and you ask yourself (should you be of religious persuasion) why on earth God is showing you such a thing.

So that "blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay" [note: I'm sure he meant 'extravagantly cheerful' here], I think. Sometimes, wrapped in the concerns of the world, the flesh and the Devil, we fail to remember that the general will of God is seldom shown explicitly (i.e. in the form, "this is the will of God...") in the Good Book. And one very explicit statement of that will is found here – it tells us to "be joyful always".

And perhaps, that is why I sit here, looking into a small glass of pale yellow fluid, and think, "This too is the fruit of the vine."

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