A Cup of the Good Stuff

When’s the last time you got out the good china?

After I went on and on yesterday about the blessedness of a messy house, I think I should clarify–though I blamed the chaos on the kiddos, I have to own that much (much) of the mess is mine. And not quite so much of it is my husband’s. He does his best to keep some order, but he is only one person. Much like my mother (and oh, they do talk about me) he finally stops cleaning up after me so that I will one day go oh, my, this place is a wreck…Shortly followed by that inevitable revelation: and it is my wreck…

Because in the midst of all my “blessing,” even I have my limits. Once a week or so I decide that I’m really going to get it all straight and keep it that way… And so I do the straightening, but rarely the keeping. Eventually, I always come back around to blessing the mess, finding the joy in the chaos, the sign of life that is clutter.

The only time our house gets and stays clean is when one of the Brothers Chris is visiting. Jeremy and I each have a brother named Chris, both of whom happen to be compulsively orderly people, and both of whom love us enough to clean without grousing when they are here. Last Christmas, they were BOTH here at the same time. Even with a tiny house full of company, it was clean for a solid week. It was the stuff of holiday miracles and made-for-tv Christmas movies…

All this is going somplace spiritual and not the same as yesterday, I promise. What i do, on the mornings when I have not quite managed to quell the chaos, and i have no Uncle Chris in town, is give myself a tiny ritual for claiming the joy of it all…I have my coffee in the good china.

I think I represent the tail end of possibly the last generation of women to get excited about picking out good china. That awareness makes me feel kind of old, but it also makes me want to use and enjoy the place settings that I have, with gratitude for the family members who bought them for me. Because they, too, get excited about the good china, and the everyday sacred that merits its use.

Having my morning coffee in a piece of Wedgwood is a simple reminder that life is not a list of tasks, life is not waiting to happen to me at some future time when i have everything figured out, or when the house finally looks like a PB fall feature catalogue. Life is now, right this minute, and it deserves to be served in the most delicate and beautiful vessel that we have available.

Yeah, ok, maybe i use the good china because all the other cups are dirty. But still…it makes sacred space of the ordinary mess, and that will preach.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://booshy.wordpress.com Jessica

    Totally agree on life being now and not whenever everything is “in order.” I’m a type A, so I struggle with that…

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      everybody does… it is the journey, whether we signed up for it or not!

  • Rachel

    Thanks Erin…makes me want to get out my own Wedgwood (which happens to be packed away in plastic tubs right now). And yes, we are a dying breed who pick out “fine china” as part of our wedding registry…most new brides consider stoneware as “fine china” these days. But that’s okay, I’ve always had an old soul and I’m quite proud of that. Thanks for putting to words what my life often looks like, and that beauty can be found there (despite the craziness).

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      for the first time ever, i’ve actually got mine OUT of the box, because i’ve go enough cabinet space for it. come see me and we will cook and drink wine and use all my good china and crystal :)

  • Penny

    Thanks, Erin. I have this “thing” about eating food on regular plates. I also have really nice tea cups in which I enjoy my cup of tea. Of course, that’s when I can fine them!!! This reminded me to not stress as much over perfection, just some sort of semblance of order.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1145328295 Hollie Larkey Ancharoff

    I love this! I have a cup of coffee in a big ol’ mug, but then I follow it with a pot of tea, brewed in a real teapot with loose tea, and I drink it out of my good china! I was Southern enough to buy a set of China when I was a sophomore in college at an auction in the summertime! Unfortunately I lost it
    in the house fire we had the next year, and the lesson ties in well– things are only things, so don’t get too attached, but enjoy them as much as you can instead of “saving” things for “right” time… Life’s too short to save the good china!

  • http://looking-closely.blogspot.com Rachel Rev

    Love this, Erin! You know, the long-term care facility where I work has started using good china to serve tea and coffee to the residents. Sure their hands are shaky. Sure they may spill. And sure cups may even break. But what joy it brings to the residents who are used to institutional plastic unbreakable plates and glasses to have a cup of tea or coffee in the good stuff. You see their faces light up. And they eagerly partake. They have not been forgotten. They are still important. Somebody brought out the good stuff for them. It was a wonderful investment to purchase hundreds of cups for the facility. And while it may not look good on the books, it looks wonderful in the looks of delight on the people sipping from those cups.

    Here is a message with a bit of table theology I wrote about “the good china” a while back. Your piece made me think of it. http://anewwind.blogspot.com/2007/05/good-china-lessons-of-grace-and-radical.html


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