Just before Christmas, but a few weeks ago, I had Breakfast with Santa at St. Florian’s parish. I took my son along kicking and screaming (he’s 34). The food is quite good, especially the cheese omelets; and the meal comes with a complimentary photograph with The Old Man himself; but they also had a church Bake Sale going on down the hall. At my age I (mostly unsuccessfully) steer clear of the temptations of home-made bakery but there was one item I just could not resist. In a tray filled with ice sat several pint-size canning jars full of bright red rhubarb-strawberry jam. The jars themselves were left blank with the lids neatly labeled: KEEP REFRIGERATED, but there was a sign indicating what it was. In days gone by my mother and my aunts used to make jams themselves and I also knew my son had acquired a taste for it. I purchased a couple of jars and followed instructions.
On an otherwise drab and drizzled Winter day I was both startled and surprised: on a warm English muffin well buttered, topped with a dollop of the jam, – I found perfection. The balance of sweetness and tartness made my taste buds just stand up and cheer.
In life there are sometimes fleeting moments of quiet pleasure that one can never revisit again. This rhubarb-strawberry jam is but one example. Another Bake Sale won’t be held for months and the anonymous angel who made it may not show up at all, or never make it – ever again.
So many things pass through our hands; some useful while others are vexing. Some things we’d like to hold on to forever. But nothing in life is permanent. The only constant is change. We are but sojourners here.
And as I take the last bite of the last of this rhubarb-strawberry jam I must pause and ask myself:
“Is this but a sample? Is that what life is? Is this what Heaven tastes like?”