Nothing too challenging


Portugal still …

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One of the constants when we are away is “Where are we going to eat … ?”

It is not a hunger thing.  It is not a cost thing.  Because, despite being surrounded by restaurants, one of our favourite meals is a bag of fruit, a couple of pastries, a mug of tea – on our balcony – looking out to sea.  We even pack a couple of plates / knives / spoons – and our kettle / mugs / tea bags – just so we can (with comfort).

But back to all these restaurants …

The “eating thing” is only because our days are punctuated by meal-times.

Wake up, kettle on, mugs of tea and then breakfast.  Morning stuff, beach stuff, watching the world go by and then lunch.  Afternoon stuff, beach, siesta stuff and then dinner.  Evening stuff with music and drinks.  Then bed and sleeping (to the sound of waves on the beach).  Before … off we go again.

We watched a restaurant conceived, birthed and now an adolescent.  Six years it has taken.  We watched its conception from a jigsaw of tiny and ancient concrete spaces, all clinging to the cliff face over the beach, all seemingly impossible to hold life (let alone the integrated functioning space of a modern restaurant).  We were here when this restaurant opened its doors for the very first time.  A fish restaurant whose USP, unique selling point, was a cold counter of raw and prepared fish. So that as we entered we had to choose the actual fish we would enjoy.  Almost like picking by name which of the family we would devour.  It was fun.  It was different.  It was their usp.  Then this time we saw it had been taken-over and made the same as any other bar / restaurant.  Now just another faceless member of the restaurant population that populates this holiday resort. 

Except it wasn’t.

It is the same restaurant with the same owners and the same cold counter and the same picking of fish as you enter.  Just “restaurant” boards outside – “restaurant” marketing outside.  The same inside but no longer the same (inside or outside).

We had to go inside and ask, to recount our memories, to begin a fledgling relationship.  We had to care enough to want to make that first move. Because this restaurant was birthed of relationship.  Its creators had a vision.  

But the public – me and us …?

We crave a pleasant place in a punctuated day.  Somewhere not so very different to anywhere else.  After all we holidaymakers don’t want to be challenged.  Nor do we want relationship on the pavement – that would be a commitment to eat (and that’s not what we want right now).  We know what we want – even if we don’t know right now. Because we are the customer – and we will spend our money where we want to spend it!

So this restaurant could have stayed true to its dream.  Could have remained with no boards outside.  Could still have had two or three staff outside the door being available to a passing public.  But where is the money in that?  The passing public will just carry on passing.  We guess the passing public did carry on passing (or why else the changes).

Is that why religions change – why they become more similar?  Is that why they broadcast their message to a passing public.  Is it because there is no future in being too different. Because that’s not what the public want.  Because just where is the money in that?

And then I remember the Gordon Ramsay television programmes.  Saving a failing eatery to a producer’s schedule before Gordon and team move on to the next tired restaurant around the very next corner.  There is always another disillusioned visionary going bust.

So I wonder …

Is religion … “religion” …  because “religion” needs customers – new customers – constant footfall – a passing public – boards outside – nothing too challenging.  And doesn’t it also have its very own “Gordons” because there is always another “disillusioned visionary” going bust.  And isn’t religion just another business … another “proposition, premises, and profit”?  And could that be why they have all  begun to look the same to me –  nothing too challenging – but always requiring me to take the first step inside … ?

Never thought I would write Gordon, Jesus, religion and business all in the same sentence when I went and got myself saved.

Must be all this foreign sea air!

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