Coffee Prayers

No, I haven’t resorted to praying to my coffee. Though, as anyone with young children can affirm, it is tempting. I once read a little blurb in a magazine about the powerful properties of coffee. As the “lifeblood” dripped into the pot, the author said, she didn’t just start to feel better about the morning. She felt better about herself, the world, and life in general.*

I mean, right? For those of us who drink coffee, isn’t that pretty much the size of it? It isn’t just a physiological need, this heavenly-smelling black stuff that fuels our days. Yes, we’d get a wicked headache if we skipped it one day, but really, there’s something a little deeper going on than the mug can hold.

For one thing, coffee has a very strong and distinct smell, and our sense of smell is the most keenly linked to  memory. They say that the taste for coffee is not just acquired but inherited, which is probably true. But what’s also “inherited” is the sense of coffee as a morning ritual. I smell coffee, and it is every morning of my childhood. No, take that back. Just about every moment of my childhood, since my mother does not believe in drinking water, or juice, or pretty much anything except coffee.  She always had a cup in her hand, and the smell followed her everywhere.

Furthermore, my Mawmaw drinks coffee. She always had a pot going in the mornings when we woke up at her house. A pot of coffee was the backdrop for the enormous breakfast that she was working to get on the table, and a fixture at the table itself in the cups of the gathered grown-ups. She always carried a cup to her front porch as well, one of the most peaceful and sacred places i have known in my life. When we talk on the phone now, I know she’s sitting on a different front porch on the other end of town, but i can trust that the coffee is still in her hand. (even if it is sometimes decaf these days).

I suspect that most of us who feel this strong connection to our sacred beverage can trace it to as many sacred places of our early years. What we hear, see, and smell dripping into that pot each morning is so much more than glorious, aromatic caffeine. It is life, joy, family, connection… and the promise that the day we’re living in now holds just as much of the sacred for us as the cup we’re holding, and the front porch it makes us think of.

So no, i don’t pray to coffee. But it is as much a part of my morning as a morning prayer should be. A time to remember where you’ve been and thank God for the journey; a moment to believe that the Holy will shape the coming day for you, and will prepare you for what’s coming, every bit as much as the caffeine that will fuel you for it. I am a good Disciple, and i know that the cup of God’s blessing is wine. But some days I wonder…Let’s just say, Jesus might just as well have gathered his loved ones around biscuits and a great pot of coffee, and we would still tell that story, too.

Some mornings, my 2-year-old hears me making coffee. She comes running and says, “smell?” I hold the bag for her as she takes a deep, reverent inhale and says “mmmm… nummy.” It makes a mother’s heart so happy. I think of all the good things for which she is acquiring a taste, and i give thanks.

*I would quote that author of the “lifeblood” thing, but can’t remember what magazine it was in, and it was not a full article, so i can’t really search for it. If you read and know what i’m talking about, let me know…

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  • Jerry Johns

    Thanks Rev. Erin. I hope to see you at Coffee Times in 2011.

  • So Harper is after her mother’s heart when it comes to coffee, huh?
    btw, I’ve been given a distinct amount of responsibility for the Wake Div Derby Party, so I might need to hit you up for your Derby Pie recipe…