Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Enjoy some Tokay for me

Back in Guam, we lived next door to the chaplain for the USS Frank Cable (it's the one that had the steam rupture in DEC 2006 requiring medevac of seven patients to Brook Army Hospital for burns. Seaman Valentine died of inhalation injuries. The CO lost his job).

Chaps was quite the character. A poker-playing, Communist-hating, God-loving man, he was from Hungary and grew up under the Communists (hence the passionate distaste---and don't get him started on Muslims, either). He started a Bible study at his home on Wednesday evenings and, when we returned from Thailand, I talked to him about Buddhism. Buddhism, as a philosophy, held a distinct lure for me---peacefulness, serenity, calmness---all emotions alien to this high-strung, fiery dynamo (yes, I think that accurately describes me).

I asked him if Buddhism was compatible with Christianity and he surprised me by saying, "Yes, and there is such a thing as a Buddhist Jesuit."

I think the attraction comes from what one practitioner has said:

"Christianity is long on content but short on method and technique. So I think Buddhism is providing Christians with practices, with techniques, by which they can enter more experientially into the content of what they believe."

Chaps knew I wasn't much of a drinker and asked me what I liked. "Sweet wines," I said.

"I have the perfect wine for you," he said, and he pulled out this tiny bottle from his cabinet and poured a small bit of golden liquid into a glass. "I think you'll like this." And every time I went over to his house after that, he would pour me a glass of Tokay.

Tokay is incredibly sweet. It's like drinking warm liquid raisins, for lack of a better description. I don't think I could drink enough to get drunk before I would get sick, but it was enough to "warm" me up, to shake my rigidness and inflexibility loose, to allow me to feel fellowship with others.

What I wouldn't give to have a glass of Tokay in Guam---and a mulligan.