Lately I’ve found that little things are triggering memories – it may be a word, a picture, a sound, something on the street or even a taste or smell. Suddenly a long-forgotten event or person springs to mind.
We were strolling near the Cathedral in Athens last Saturday around an area of shops that specialize in church adornments. When I saw this icon in a store window memories of Holy Week at my old Anglican parish in Toronto came flooding back and with them one name: Elizabeth Lemberger.
Elizabeth was an Austrian Jew who had converted to Anglicanism after her escape to England at the onset of the Anchluss. Alone at the end of the war she immigrated to Toronto and became part of an incredible parish family at St Thomas – Huron St. Every year after the Vigil and First Mass of Easter a group of us would gather in Elizabeth’s cramped apartment over a laundromat on Bloor St for a Passover supper. She would prepare many of the traditional Seder dishes and a few recipes she remembered from her childhood to share with her extended parish family. For her it was a way of remembering and celebrating the faith of her birth and the faith it gave birth to and the family she lost with a family she had found.
It has been over 30 years since I sat at one of those dinners and 15 years now since I last saw her, we lost touch as I moved around the world. But as I looked at that icon last Saturday the memory of her ladling hot, savory, aromatic broth into a bowl of broken matzo was as vivid as though it were yesterday.
22 marzo – Sabato Santo