My father and I have a great many things in common. We both love Willie Nelson, good whiskey and red velvet cake. We’re stubborn. We can be terribly sarcastic. And generally we aren’t really good at hiding how we feel about a person, place or thing. We’re also easily distracted by shiny things. And, along with my sister, we share a deep and abiding love for coffee. Good coffee. Coffee that smells like heaven, tastes like mercy, and fills your soul with enough warmth to make difficult days manageable.
We’re both also Christian clergy (not the judgmental, hateful kind—the other kind), ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and several years ago, we were at a big church meeting together. Thousands of people involved. High-rise hotels, convention center, exhibit area, the whole nine yards. We each had responsibilities at the event, and so our paths most-often crossed hurriedly. One morning, just as I got settled in to the exhibit booth I was hosting, Dad walked out of the convention center meeting room, having been present for an early morning business session. He looked exhausted–like he’d been up way too late or gotten up way too early, or perhaps both.
“You okay?” I asked, “You look so tired.”
“I am,” he said, and then without one word, and with a movement so quiet and sly I almost missed it, he picked up my just-purchased, steaming-hot, perfectly-doctored cup of Pike Place blend and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye said, “Thanks for the coffee!” and walked off into his busy morning.
And I sat there stunned, disarmed by how quickly and effortlessly and joyfully he’d stolen my coffee! It took me a few minutes to gather my senses long enough to call a friend I knew to be on the way down to the convention hall and plead desperately into his cell phone, “Will you bring me some coffee please?”
These days, I often feel as if someone has just stolen my coffee.
Coffee is a constant in my life. Healthy or not, when I don’t have it, I know it–I feel a bit off-center, not quite so grounded, and not quite myself.
Sort of like new jobs. Or new babies. Or new relationships. Or new homes. Or new landscapes. Or new rules.
Sort of like divorce. Or a cancer diagnosis. Or the loss of a loved one. Or ______ (fill in the blank with any life-changing adventure that begins with fear and anguish and continues with heartache).
I’m quickly approaching 40 with a whole lot of “new” in my life. Some of it so joyfully welcomed, and some of it painfully battled through. And yet here’s the thing—through all of that is gratitude. Gratitude for this “brutiful” life (as the amazing Glennon Doyle Melton coined).
Still…some days…stolen coffee. You know?
I wish I had answers for how to quickly find a new and warm mug of joe to stabilize things again. But I don’t. The good news is that I’ve got friends waiting in line at a coffee shop close by, awfully gracious in their willingness to be with me during some very uncertain times. Even if all I need is for them to order a “Grande Pike please, with a little room for cream.”
Because the truth is, very little in this life is known. And even less is certain. And if you’ve got relationships with others that you know, thank God, you can depend on, even when you are at your very worst and most pathetic, well…you’re doing better than those who don’t. And should probably stop and breathe a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the ones who walk most closely and faithfully with you in this life.
I’m not entirely sure where this new blog is going—but that’s sort of the point. Because do we really ever? With anything? Despite our best intentions, hopes or plans?
Regardless, I hope you’ll come with me. If know one thing about this life, it’s this: it’s so much better when it’s lived alongside one another.