Peace Be With You–Or an Ode to Coffee

ImageI usually wake up around 4:00-4:30 in the morning. Some days, I sneak some time catching up on Dr Who, or another program I like called Torchwood. I have an iPad and sit in the quiet and dark of our living room enjoying my version of TV time while Sherod, the dogs and the cat get the last couple of hours of sleep. It is supposed to be my time for prayer and reflection and I had let that slip away from me so instead it became my time for worrying, rehashing, a space to allow my anxiety (and some resentment) to ratchet up. Not a great way to start one’s day, for sure!

For many years, I used one of modernity’s contraptions–a coffee pot with auto brew so I could wake up to a hot cup of coffee. I felt virtuous every night I actually got the coffeemaker set to brew for the following day. “If nothing else,” I’d think, before sleep found me, “I will wake up to a cup of hot coffee tomorrow morning. My day has not been a total waste”. Then, as a result of some back and forth conversation about coffee, and the realization that I come from coffee country, I decided to try to up my coffee game. I purchased a Chemex brewer (the tall glass contraption pictured above). And a Hario ceramic burr coffee grinder (that’s the glass and black plastic gizmo). I brought back roasted coffee from Panamá, coffee that comes from the farm where I used to play hide-and-seek with my cousins when we were growing up. I found the coffee measuring spoon my dear friend Barbara gave Sherod and me years ago. The mug is my favorite, just the right size, just the right colors, just the right shape–just right in every way imaginable. Thus, a new morning ritual emerges.

I get up and put a small kettle to boil. I grind the coffee–some mornings are harder than others because I guess I have some arthritis or something on my thumb and it hurts to keep the grinder on the counter while I do the grinding. But whatever pain it generates is more than offset by the astoundingly rich and delicious aroma that greets me. There are times I stop and simply inhale. I could get high on that smell, I swear! There are other careful steps I need to take: rinsing the paper filter, timing the first coffee bloom, carefully pouring the hot water into the Chemex and then allowing it to filter through. Especially, I am careful to wash, dry and put away the roaster so coffee oils won’t build up and go rancid on me. In all, it takes me about 20 minutes start to finish.

I have to be careful and attentive. It takes some effort and patience–this isn’t like it used to be, where I could stumble into the kitchen and pour my coffee without hardly opening my eyes. But taking that first sip of the coffee is pure and simple glory that fills me with gratitude. And because this is probably as much about God and grace as ritual, the gratitude moves me almost effortlessly into prayer. Trying to find God in everything. Especially the small things.

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