Scary stories from a lovely place
I love pleasure. So do you. Obviously we want the things we desire. And we expect those things to bring us pleasure.
For such a complicated young woman my pleasures are actually pretty basic – sun, food, affection, rest, intellectual stimulation, beautiful views.
Lucky for me those pleasures are pretty acceptable in terms of other people and my relationship with God. I’m not stealing to slake my desire for beautiful gold and pearls or paying a fortune for trendier clothes or a weekly makeover. In fact lately I’ve been feeling like there isn’t anything, in terms of sin, that I’m struggling with, that is hindering how I relate to God or respect other people.
Now, obviously, that’s impossible. I’m not under some delusion that I have sorted everything out. I say a big, fat resounding, obviously not. But when the desires of my heart and mind and flesh are for good, God given things, it’s easy to wonder what I should be working on. After all, I’m not lusting, coveting, murdering, stealing, swearing (perhaps a little in the middle of the night) or dishonouring my parents. Despite the lack of sleep I am operating on at the moment, I am surprisingly content.
But then I found this.
Almond and dark chocolate pie with cream. And a pansy. Perfect. Well, if it was mascarpone rather than cream it would be perfect. But it is intensely pleasurable none the less. I found this pleasure on a plate at Service Station cafe, corner of Emmarentia Ave and Rustenburg Rd at the bottom of Melville. And I ate it two Saturday’s ago. And then the next Sunday. And then the following Sunday. And it delighted each time. In the dark recesses of my mind and heart I was formulating a plan. I would come everyday with Silas to Service Station and drink earl grey tea and eat the almond and dark chocolate pie and read the newspaper or just enjoy watching the cars drive past in the sun. Then my plan went further. I would buy whole almond and dark chocolate pies from Service Station and take them home where I could enjoy them at will. And I would ask the chef for the recipe so that I could make them myself so I could eat more and more. And pleasure, pleasure, pleasure would be all mine.
And there it is. There’s my sin. I like to pretend it doesn’t have a name, just the pursuit of good pleasure gone awry. But yesterday Stephen politely informed me that actually, that is gluttony, surely one of the most conspicuous sins. It even features in that movie ‘Seven’ for goodness sake. So I made a decision. I would reserve the pie for use only occasionally. Otherwise it wouldn’t be special anymore and I would have to be continually raising the stakes.
That was yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon Stephen came home from work early and suggested we go out somewhere for afternoon tea. My mind instantly went to Service Station and my stomach to the pie. “Should we go to Service Station?” he suggested.
‘Yes!’ I thought, ‘the pie can be all mine’. “How about Bean There?” That’s Stephen’s favourite place. I was trying to be magnanimous.
“It’ll be closed. Let’s go to Service Station.” So off we went. I ordered my earl grey. “Do you want some cake love?” said Stephen.
‘Yes!’ I thought. Then I remembered the morning’s resolve. I was faced with a decision. I could put off the resolve for another day or I could keep my word. I would have one last bite of pleasure before it became just for special. No one would know.
Amazingly I opted for integrity. The earl grey by itself was lovely.
I do, after all, have a pretty easy life, especially when viewed in comparison to some of my friends. Sure, I’m a little sleep deprived at the moment and my tennis swing isn’t what it was a few months ago, and I have to operate many, many locks to get in and out of my house. But apart from that, I don’t need the pie to bring pleasure to life. I have all I need. So when I next eat the pie I will appreciate it all the more, rather than just enjoying it as a normal part of life.