My Soul for a Cup of Coffee – UPDATED

After four days in the house, sleeping nearly continuously thanks to my oxygen-deprived and bleary state, I desperately needed to get out of the house today, and also I needed to buy a card/gift for the Mother-in-Law (who deserves much more than either card or gift), so I ventured out and basically drove a circuit: card shop, gas station (back tire needed air), post-office, church (getting on to the Vespers hour, so why not) and then – feeling totally beat – a reward of coffee to get me home. All went well until the coffee stop, which precipitated a spiritual crisis of sorts.

At Vespers the reading was from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So, glorify God in your body.

My meditation had been one of prayerful regret, running along the lines of “I’ve never treated my body like anything but the Temple of Doom.” I recalled all the times where, considering my body, my prayer had been, “can’t I have a do-over? From puberty on, do-over? And maybe no congenital blood or enzyme issues? No clotting issues? Less boobs and bootie? Can I be built more along the lines of Andie McDowell, than Rosie O’ Donnell, please? (Even Rosie is taller, I’m sure) I’d like longer legs and shorter arms; an overall less-simian sort of stature.”

A shameful prayer, yes, completely unrealistic, ungrateful and un-edifying. I’m well-aware of the fact that I should be daily offering up a prayer of praise that I can simply bring a cup of coffee to my lips, unassisted.

This is why I pray a lot; not because I’m holy, but because I am pathetic. And yes, I also prayed for all the people who ask me to, or who mention things in the comments section, but now that you see what surrounds my prayer, you’ll understand why you should also offer up your own orisons, and don’t put too much stock on anything coming from over here.

Anyway, Vespers was done, I was craving coffee, and since the good monks at Mystic Monk Coffee have not yet figured out how to create a chain of drive-through monasteries at which I may satisfy my daily longing for their incredible, smooth, rich java (truly the best coffee I’ve ever had, see right sidebar), I went to a different drive-through chain for an inferior but fast and hot blend.

Aside: I love the idea of a drive-through monastery/coffee house. At the intercom you hear a chant: “Benedicite...Caaaan weeee heeeelp youuu?”

Me: “Monks! Gimmee coffee! The Dark Roast! The incredible Hazelnut! GIMMEE IRISH CREME COFFEE! And a Novena! And put it in a Saint-of-the-Day cup!”

Monk: “Deo Gratias…Wouuuulllld youuuu like a bleeeeeeeesssssinnnngg with that jaaavaaaa?”

Me: “Yes! Bless me till your blesser is broke and throw in a Pater Noster!”

Monk: “Alleluia Alleluia! Driiiiive thrrroooouugh toooo the seecond winnndoowww In nomine patrie…”

I would love that. But I digress…

So I pull into the drive-through and ask for the large coffee, milk, a packet of sweetener. I am not tempted to any of the other goodies offered because, you know…I’ve just been meditating on how my body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, albeit one that requires massive amounts of iron to keep it standing, and copious flows of caffeine to keep the doors open.

The woman at the window gives me the coffee with the packet of sweetener ON the coffee lid instead of IN the coffee.

Now, a nice person would probably not waste a thought on it. I, sadly, am not very nice and my brain began whirring another path to purgatory, which I suppose showed on my face, as I looked at the cup and then at the woman with what I hope was merely a quizzical, and not evil, expression.

She said, “I didn’t know if you wanted it in the coffee…”

“Ohhh,” I said, thinking, “you absurd woman, I’m driving a car, what do you think I’d want, to alternately drink the coffee and then stick my tongue into the sweetener envelope as I’m driving? Where is your head?” But before I could say anything cutting the woman said, “it’s my first day…and I’m like, so confused…”

Given my own history of public-stupidity, and since I also did not want to give reign to my always-rouse-able Irish beast, I said, “well, soon it will be second nature to you, and you’ll feel like you can do the job in your sleep! Good luck!” But of course, in my heart, I know I had harbored evil, uncharitable thoughts, and those counted. Dammit.

I drove away understanding that once more, I had failed in love and patience, but my contrition was typically short-lived, as I wondered…”now, how the hell do I drink this? What do I stir it with? I have no pen, no pencil, no straw…my greasy tire gauge? Ewww, no!”

There was a McDonalds just ahead, so I pulled in there figuring, “great, I’ll get a stirrer.” A little devil voice said, “you can’t just drive up and ask for a stirrer; better get a hot fudge sundae, then you can use the spoon to stir your coffee.”

“No, no,” I said, “I just read Vespers and my body is the Temple of the Lord, and I’ve abused my body terribly, and must stop that! No ice cream!”

“Can I help you,” came the voice over the intercom.

“One hot fudge sundae, please!” I called out.

Freaking devil.

“Our machine is broke, we have no ice cream – you want cookies?” Hmmm…was this an angel of the Lord preventing me from sullying the Temple or was it yet another devil, an oatmeal-raisin devil with chewy insides? Aha! I find I can resist the cookie devil because he does not come with a spoon to stir my coffee!

“No cookies,” I called, proudly, “can I just have a coffee stirrer?”

The voice told me I was in luck; all I had to do was ask the kid at the second window. When I did he gave me an odd look, “just a coffee stirrer? No cookies? No coffee?”

My chubby, stretch-marked-flabby doughy-skin-cancered body is the Temple of the Lord! I came away with a stirrer, and a stirrer only.

But that seemed like an awful lot of spiritual angst for a cup of coffee…

I need the monks to build a drivethru, and I need it now!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Ruth H

    That is so funny I can hardly stand it. You really pushed my buttons. I started out as 5′ 3/4″ feeling like “okay, I’m short.” Then I had children and gained weight. So willowy is always how I’ve wanted to be. Then with age came more weight and I SHRUNK!! Last time the doc measured me I was on 5 FEET TALL or short!! Now I’m getting much older, a little grumpy and I’m really resenting the world built for the 5″5″ woman. So instead I should be thanking God I have achieved 71 years, have health problems but I consider myself healthy, just bought an EXPENSIVE new bicycle I plan to ride often, and in so many ways I could help my health problems by leaving out the coffee, cookies, ice cream, potatoes, gravy, pasta, etc. But I also thank God I live in a country where I have those food choices, so what am I supposed to do?
    Thank God we have you, the Anchoress to keep us focused, or should I say anchored? I do live in a coastal community.

  • Regina

    I think that one of the most humbling things to experience is the realization that maybe God is using me as a messenger or conduit to reach someone. I also feel very humble when someone else asks me to pray for him or her.

    When my mom was in the hospital for the last time, every time I left her I told her I loved her and said, “You pray for me and I’ll pray for you.”

    That being said, you’re in my prayers. Feel better.

  • dellbabe68

    This story is hilarious! I think the best was the image of a person alternatively drinking their coffee and dipping their tongue into the packet. Plus, the diaglogue with the monastic drive-thru was fantastic!

    I happen to have ordered six bags (2 orders) of the monk’s coffee so far. It’s very good. I’m partial to the jingle bells java (which was a mistake the first time since they sent decaf and not regular, but now I just drink that at night). The chocolate mint is good (I have a friend who loves it) but I love the monk’s blend. Dark roast is good. Just got the sample size of that. Still have to open fair trade (grown in the shade, etcetera, etcetera etcetera) Mexican.

    You (and your family) were mentioned in my Rosary last night, Anchoress. Thanks for this wonderful blog. It is a gift.

  • Viola Jaynes

    Oh my gosh, Anchoress, I am sitting here almost peeing in my pants, I am laughing so hard. For not feeling well, you sure are on a roll. Are you on medication???? Like that time you were when you had taken muscle relaxers!

    And…I must say truthfully, you are entirely tooooooo hard on yourself! I still will entrust prayers into your care…and I’ll do the same for you. :-)

    I wrote a Mother’s Day message to honor Elisabeth Fritzl if you would like to come over and read it.

    I hope you get to feeling better soon. Humor is good for the soul as well as your physical body. Keep it up!

  • alexandrag

    I am laughing so hard, and crying and snorting. “Bless me until your blesser is broke and throw in a Pater Noster!” You outta be in comedy. Thanks, Anchoress, and feel better soon.

  • Foxfier

    This is why I pray a lot; not because I’m holy, but because I am pathetic

    I still insist that “oh dear God, PLEASE!!!!” is a valid prayer. (be it “dear God please NO! or dear God please YES!, it’s still valid. I know, it’s been the prayer on my lips in a couple of “am I going to meet you face to face soon?” situations)

    Have you considered that maybe bringing joy to others is part of your job, here?

  • jenniferf

    This is HILARIOUS. It’s funny, I’d actually read it before I saw the link at the bottom (thanks for that!)

    I can completely, completely relate to everything you write here — down to wishing my Temple could be a clotting-disorder-free, less cubby, less doughy, less skin-cancer-ish Temple.

    Thank for a great post.

  • jenniferf

    (Wow, lots of typos in that comment. Sorry about that. It’s early and, well, I haven’t had my coffee.)

  • saveliberty


    What a hilarious post! After these many weeks, months that you have been recommending Mystic Monk’s coffee, I ordered some to try.

    I agree with the posts above that tell you that you are too hard on yourself. God wants us to be the best that we can be, but I think even He had a laugh over your post.

    Did you ever notice that those people who seem to be the best examples of following their faith have a wonderful humility that allows them to laugh at their own expense? I have to wonder if this isn’t something that has been overlooked – the interaction between belief in God and a sense of humor.



  • Pingback: Answers & Questions Again | The Anchoress

  • Pingback: Answers & Questions Again | The Anchoress

  • Tracey Lord

    I adore you, A, and this post.

    (As a one-time coffee mistress, I understand why she might not have put the sweetener in the coffee — some people don’t use the whole packet, etc — but at least give you a stir stick, for pity’s sake! Poor confused thing.)

    This was hilarious! You made my day!

    /an oatmeal-raisin devil with chewy insides/ Hahahahahaha!

  • Pingback: Questions & Comments from the email | The Anchoress

  • Pingback: Questions & Comments from the email | The Anchoress