Coffee Contemplations - theHumm September 2019
Coffee Contemplations - theHumm September 2019
By Angie Arendt
I’ve been told that I have too many coffee mugs. Some folks have gone so far as to suggest that if I culled the cupboard of the cup clutter, keeping only the mugs that are aesthetically pleasing and/or are regularly used, my life would somehow feel simpler, lighter… happier, even. I’m sure these people mean well… but they are wrong. Oh-so-wrong.
This morning, like pretty much every other morning, I put on the coffee and carefully selected a mug to start the day. On some mornings it’s the one with the big “A” on the side that gets the nod, other times it is the one with the “P”. There are days that the mug crafted by a local artist catches my eye, and sometimes the chipped and stained diner mug from long ago and far away is what I need to sit in my hand for a bit.
Today it’s a blue and white mug from Starbucks in San Antonio; not a reminder of vacations past on this sunny summer morning but a connection to Texas right now, El Paso in particular. If there was a cup in the cupboard from Ohio or California I’d grab those, too, and double-fist it… but there’s not. So I don’t. The souvenir mug from the San Antonio airport will have to suffice. It’s prayer time.
A few thousand years ago, someone eloquently spoke and later wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that “For everything there is a season… and a time and purpose for every matter under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to keep silent and a time to speak… for everything there is a season, and a time and purpose for every matter under heaven.”
I figure that this snippet has withstood the test of time because somewhere deep in our souls (or maybe just our DNA or shared memory) we know it’s true… we are born, we die, and in between that first breath in and the last breath out there are all kinds of highs and lows which, if we pay attention, will shape our lives into things of beauty and wonder that make an imprint for Good.
So I do what I can to pay attention, including sitting for a bit in the morning. It’s a ritual of connection.
Like most rituals, this one includes ordinary items that take on sacred significance. For generations, people have used candles, stones, water, food and art as ways to connect with God, Good, Life, or The Bigger Picture. For me, it’s a coffee mug.
When that “A” mug sits in my hand, I think of my daughter (she gave me the mug for my birthday) and what it means to be family, and even about my own life, too. The “P” mug is its twin and conjures up “Peter” and “Partner” and “Puppies” and “Possibilities”. The mug from the local artist brings images of community: the new one we live in now, the ones we have come from, and what it means to belong. And the mug from the diner? That one always reminds me of the sacredness of the simple things: eggs, a good story, and yes… coffee.
Today it is a stained, chipped, well-worn souvenir San Antonio mug in my hand bringing to mind (and heart) all of the people running on fumes in Texas and Ohio and California and oh-so-many other places in these days-after-the-terrorist-attacks. Those folks are likely drinking coffee right now, too — sucking it out of paper cups and travel mugs, caffeinating up so that they can keep hugging and holding, standing up and speaking out, cleaning up, telling stories, organizing, raising money, marching in the streets — doing whatever they can with whatever they have to be and bring hope into their grief-filled, heartbroken corners of the world, likely not aware that their actions ripple all the way up to Canada on this mid-August morning to a big stone house in a little town that sits on the other Mississippi River. That connection has me wondering how I might do the same in my neck of the woods…
After the contemplative connection and a few more sips in silence, it’s time to wrap it up. So I close with a prayer of sorts — more like a comma in an on-going conversation with God, Good, Life and The Big Picture that I’ll pick up again tomorrow morning with a fresh pot of coffee and another mug in hand: “Thanks. For food, for life, for do-overs, for the people who love me and who I get to love… and for coffee, too. If you could help me do what I can to pay all of this forward today, I’d really appreciate it…” And the day goes on, full of possibilities to make an imprint for Good. May it be so.
By Sally Hansen
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