Caffeine, compassion and enough to go around
This morning, I woke up extra early so I could sit on my spot on the couch, look out the windows and watch the world wake up as I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee.
But the garbage disposal was broken, and it wouldn’t drain properly because there was food in there – probably a leftover peel from a lemon, some tomatoes from taco night and coffee grounds, most likely.
So, I spent the time I would normally be sitting and watching the world digging my hand around in the drain trying to unclog the disposal. (No, it was not on. I was being careful.)
I didn’t have time to drink my coffee, so I put it in a to-go mug and headed out the door. Walking across the parking lot in the rain got the best of me, and I slipped and dropped my coffee. All of it.
The cement stole my morning, drank it up, and washed it down with the rain. I briefly contemplated going back to make more, but decided against that. There are two coffee shops within walking distance of the church, but instead I just went inside.
When I got to the church office, Kelly and George were sitting inside, drying off and warming up before they headed out for the day. These men are my neighbors now – at least, that’s how I think of them.
They are homeless, and over the past eight months I’ve gotten to know them a little bit more. They’re funny, especially when they are sober.
When I can tell they’ve had a little too much, they become a bit meaner and bitter, and honestly-I don’t blame them. Kelly talks about instant coffee as a luxury, and George always complements me on my haircut, because he’s a gentleman.
They waved at me as I walked in the front door and I stopped to talk with them for a while. I told them how I spilled my coffee all over the parking lot, and they laughed. Kelly asked if I was going to go buy more.
I said no, but in my head, before I walked in the front door, I had thought about doing just that. I felt guilty. I wanted to drink my coffee, from home – the good stuff that I made, with big body and bold flavor, and half and half. Just a little.
I didn’t want to drink the church’s coffee. We only have flavored creamer, and I don’t like that stuff, it’s too sweet and ruins the flavor of the already dull coffee.
But Kelly reminded me I still have options, choices, and decisions, and that I need to be careful with these. It made me feel a different kind of guilt.
Sometimes, I feel terrible about being white, an American, for having a job, for living in a house and for having daily bread and enough for tomorrow as well. But, today, this was a different kind of guilt.
Contentment. I don’t always have it. I don’t always understand it. I can turn this one incident of dropping my coffee in the parking lot into a dramatic sign of how my day is going to turn out, but I don’t need to. It’s just coffee.
Our faith community has been contemplating the phrase, “A Life of Enough” for the past few weeks. As we journeyed to Easter we explored our own fears of not having enough, of not doing enough, and of not being enough.
In one conversation with George and Kelly, I was reminded of my own list of priorities.
In this season of spring and of new life, what is enough for us? Are we keeping this new life to ourselves, or are we graciously sharing and living life with those around us? Do we give freely, passionately – of our time, our energy, and our love? Or do we hold back, living out of scarcity, rather than abundance?
So for the parking lot stealing my coffee, I will give thanks. Because I know I have enough of what I need. For the kindhearted men who encourage me with their laughs, I will give thanks. Because I have a lot to laugh about.
For the little lessons from caffeine and compassion, I will give thanks. Because the world needs both. And only one in moderation.