A quote from the Concierge at 7 Rue de Grenelle.
I pour the tea and we sip in silence. We have never had our tea together in the morning, and this break with our usual protocol imbues the ritual with a strange flavour.
Yes, this sudden transmutation in the order of things seems to enhance our pleasure, as if consecrating the unchanging nature of a ritual established over our afternoons together, a ritual that has ripened into a solid and meaningful reality. Today, because our ritual has been transgressed, it suddenly acquires all its power; we are tasting the splendid gift of this unexpected morning as if it were some precious nectar, ordinary gestures have an extraordinary resonance, as we breathe in the fragrance of the tea, savour it, lower our cups, serve more and sip again: every gesture has the bright aura of rebirth. At moments like this the web of life is revealed by the power of ritual, and each time we renew our ceremony, the pleasure will be all the greater for our having violated one of its principles. Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time. Elsewhere the world may be bustling or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, with others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn - and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames and tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb.
So, let us drink a cup of tea.
page 86-87, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Murial Barbery