The Perfect Day

There are a few perfect days in my life. There was the day I spent fishing in the Kodiak Islands of Alaska, and the day I sat at the beautiful Cafe Florenze in San Marco Square in Venice, and there was today. From the moment I stepped out of bed, I felt the love of God and the abundance of the universe waiting for me. I spent the morning reading Augustine’s Confessions, only to be interrupted by my colleague Cooker. Cooker is 29, she’s from Michigan, and a new faculty member at Pepperdine in sports medicine. She is darn smart, and has a really tender and free spirited heart that draws me to her. We made plans to meet up at the monastery above the city for church service, and then to have dinner together.

I made my way to the monastery around 5:30 pm, and I did some shopping as well as some sightseeing until she arrived. We walked around the grounds, and then made our way to the monastery crypt in the cathedral. The monks took their place, and they began to chant. We sat in silence together, and it was one of the best moments I can imagine. I was especially moved when the monks began to sing the “Alleluia” in Italian, the song that still moves me to tears every Sunday at my church. Suddenly, I felt connected across space and time to my church community and all of the world that sings the same alleluia. We listened to the priest and received the Eucharist from the old priest who put the bread in our mouth, and declared in Italian, “This is the body of Christ for you.” We walked out of the church to the most beautiful scene of all of Florence, which I am posting here.

Cooker looked at me, and she said, “I feel so blessed.” I did too, and we made our way down the hill, into the city and to La Goistra, a restaurant that came highly recommended to me but which had been full all week. The head chef was standing outside, an grey headed Italian man of at least 75 years old, and he said “Ciao.” We told him how much we wanted to have dinner there, and he said, “Come with me.” He thought Cooker was beautiful, and she is, so he seated us immediately despite the line waiting outside. Before long, champagne and a whole plate of appetizers arrived at our table, compliments of the chef. We tasted Tuscan liver pate, the best bruschetta I’ve ever had, artichoke hearts, red peppers in olive oil and donkey meat that tasted like bologna. The chef then brought us a bottle of chianti, a special bottle from the heart of the region of Chianti, and he presented it to us in a way I’ve never seen. He described the grapes and the process with poetry as he poured it. We then enjoyed a pasta with pear filling and cream sauce, then I had a veal cutlet sauteed in orange and lemon sauce. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever experienced, and without doubt the most charming and delightful service imaginable. We refused dessert, but the chef insisted that we have an apperetif, so he placed the whole bottle at our table and told us to have whatever we wanted (I was good, in case you’re worried ha). I could not believe the hospitality of this man who did not know us at all, and who regularly entertains celebrities and importance guests. We sat at dinner for 3 hours engaged in conversation, and no one ever asked us to leave. I love Europe.

We finished the night walking around the city streets, listening to an Italian band and we danced with the Italians in the streets. They are so full of the joie de livre (joy of life). We walked back home to our villa, as high on life as ever. Cooker told me that she had never felt so understood, and I felt the same way. It was a perfect day, and it all began with writing a funeral. I felt that Frances was looking out for me today, and she must have begged God to make sure that I knew I was loved today. I do.


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