This morning I woke up extra early so I could sit on my spot on the couch, look at the windows and watch the world wake up, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Tuesday mornings usually make this possible, because I staff meetings which start later in the morning. So, I get to take an extra thirty minutes to enjoy the silence.
But the garbage disposal is broken, and it won’t drain properly because there is food–probably 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. [Side note, no, it was not on…and 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.
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 kind of my neighbors now, at least…that’s how I think of them. They are homeless, and over the past six 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 awhile. 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 [because there are two coffee shops within one block of the church office]. I said, no. But in my head, before I walked in the front door–I had actually 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. Usually, I feel terrible about being white, an American, for having a job, a house… for having daily bread and enough for tomorrow as well… but today, it made me feel 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 re-creating of how my days is going to turn out… but I don’t need to. It’s just coffee, and if I’m desperate, I can go home and get more.
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 in my days.
For the little lessons from caffeine and compassion, I will give thanks. Because the world needs both. And only one in moderation.