The Smell of Coffee

I realized today I like the smell of coffee, better than the taste of coffee. Do I like coffee?

At first, I thought this meant I did not, because coffee is a “drink,” but then I realized that I may drink coffee, but only incidentally. For me coffee is a caffeine delivery system, a smell, and a ritual of adulthood. I don’t get to make many tangible things in my job so making the coffee is a pleasure.

This mug is full of the coffee I made. Growing up my generation stopped drinking the foul stuff of our elders (“Sanka” and granulated “Taster’s Choice”) and I become addicted to Diet Coke. Still, since I loved my grandparents and parents there was a strong association of the smell of coffee with adulthood and nice people.

I was socialized to love the smell of coffee.

By the time I am down with cream and Splendid my coffee ends up tasting like hot Diet Coke anyway.

This trivial thought made me wonder how many things I do that I think are for one thing, but are really for something else and my surprising answer was: many. I think dinner is for eating, and it has eating in it, but mostly it is for reconnecting (sometimes over an episode of “Chopped”) with my family. Given my weight, I could dispense with the food, but should still go to the table.

My calories needs are met, but my family needs are not until we laugh together.

My drive to work is getting to work, but it also is a time to hear a book (“George Washington”) and move from my home thoughts to my work thoughts. When I lived next to campus, I used to do the same thing in my walk home or after arriving home by pulling apart from family life for a time.

And it was then that I thought of church. Church plainly fulfills social, charitable, and cultural needs in my life. The liturgy helps me when I am beauty starved and giving keeps me accountable to generosity to the poor. But my friends who are atheists could do many of the same things, though studies show it is harder for them to do so.

Why church?

I realized that buried in me is a hunger for the Divine. That sounds so quaint that I am afraid to say it. I want more. . . more than duty, more than this life, more than stuff. I want God and I know that nothing I do can pull God down to me.

There is no ritual (sorry “Supernatural”) to force the Divine to come. There is no intellectual activity that can be put this ineffable Other in a box. Orthodoxy is a window to Heaven, not heaven.

But then I realized that Church is not me, but about God.

My need for the Divine is only met in a place where my needs, especially my felt needs, are of no consequence. I don’t matter at Church, God matters, but because He chooses to love me I matter for all time. I have a need not to attend to my needs is the only way I can put it in words.

God has no needs, but when I give the One with no need what He doesn’t need from me, then I am free of the greatest trap of all: my desires. From what He has given me, I give to Him.

The odor of Heaven, the taste of Bread and Wine, and the sound of Angels cannot be heard every week, because I demand them. I think I want them. God is hidden from me, because I demand He show or I shall pout, but when I simply worship Him, then He is there.

Thank you Jesus.


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