Coffee Cup Spirituality

Coffee Cup Spirituality January 24, 2019

I’ve been questioning my coffee habit.  

I love coffee, its morning warmth, its taste smelted from earth and fire, the caffeine’s fine, bright note ringing through my morning.  I love how coffee makes me alert, fuels my writing, propels my day. Coffee’s become so interwoven into who I am that it’s almost a sacred thing for me.  I’ve got a little retablo on my fridge of St. Drogo, patron of coffee, that I picked up in New Mexico.

Yet I fear my dependence on coffee, how it’s become a crutch that I use permanently.  I fear that in trying to tune my attention with caffeine throughout the day that I might be missing out on the restorative effects of sleep.  

But for me the issue is about more than my minor addiction.  You see, I think I’ve made coffee my rocket fuel. I use it to hurtle over writer’s block, lack of sleep, boredom, and whatever other mild annoyance the day throws at me.  Coffee grants me the escape velocity to transcend the dull ordinariness of time and self.

This is not good.

Jesuit priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that we must learn to “accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense, and incomplete” (The Ignatian Adventure, p.88).  God works within us on God’s own timetable.  It’s slow and not always straightforward work.  This is because our lives are not straightforward, and God is seeking our healing and growth, not an earthquake.  So God moves with a deliberate slowness, and most of us don’t entirely know what to do with that. We want something–some technique or technology–to speed things up a bit.  A cup of jo, steaming black and sharp as obsidian, will do.

But it strikes me that there’s something profoundly important about feeling ourselves to be in suspense and incomplete.  It stems from a kind of awareness that our deepest longings are pointed beyond the horizons of this world. We will never be complete apart from God.  Our hearts will always be restless until they rest in him.

Becoming aware of our in-suspense-ness and incompleteness means that we’re aware of who we really are and what we really need.  Who we really are is mortals. What we really need is to find our identity and hope in the immortal God. Doing more things and faster won’t get us to the destination we seek.  We’re oriented toward God, and so no person, place, or thing will grant us the completeness we long for.

Does that make sense?  

No doubt a cup of coffee would sharpen this post up nicely.  But it will just have to lean here in its own glorious incompleteness.  Sorry, St. Drogo.

Coffee drying in Santa Teresa, Peru.
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