The coffee pot was sputtering and the smell of the rich brew was beginning to fill the house. The temptation to pour a cup was only slightly overcome by the urgency of a deadline nearly met. I tapped at the keyboard, finishing the email and clicked the send button. The familiar swoosh was the horn that signaled break time.
There was a tap at the back door; I shifted the laptop and rose to greet my expected guest. As I did, I remembered that she introduced me to the joy that is drinking coffee.
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More than forty years ago, I sat at her kitchen table. “I was about to make William and I a spot of coffee”. I had never learned to drink the stuff, but I added lots of sugar and cream and it became part of our ritual.
I certainly was around coffee all of my life. I have vivid memories of holding my mother’s coffee as she drove us to the junior high school. The plastic two cup measuring cup, made by Tupperware, was likely the largest container she could find. It was way before the days of travel mugs, and it sure didn’t have a cute monogram, but it was mostly functional. I loved the smell of her coffee, although in retrospect I know it was mixed with smoke from her Pall Mall cigarette. I suppose it would have been nearly impossible to drive with an open spouted measuring cup brimming with coffee and a cigarette. I’m forever grateful that she chose to have me hold the coffee.
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I opened the door and there she stood. Slightly bent and already apologizing for interrupting. “I have been looking forward to this! It’s my lunch break – come in and sit. The coffee is on” I responded.
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We were a young couple they knew from church. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that they were the sort of folks who always had an open door. While he taught my young husband to finish drywall, I often popped in to see her. She made the best bologna sandwiches and I was a young mom who loved being served, even just a simple sandwich.
She moved around her kitchen with the fluid motion of a dancer; it seemed that she truly enjoyed serving her family and friends.
I watched her deal with a rebellious teenager, which was a terrifying thought to my young mom heart. I learned about adding another potato to the pot to stretch a meal for unexpected guests. She was always matter of fact; it is what it is, she would day.
In hindsight, we always stayed too long but they never let on. When the evening began to wane, she would always say “You don’t have to leave – we’ll hang you on a nail!” They were kind and hospitable; they loved Jesus and we knew for sure they loved us.
As our family grew we spent less time hanging out at their house, but we always remembered (at times a bit sheepishly) their kindness and patience in dealing with our immaturity in life and matters of faith.
When our nest was empty, we began reaching out to young married couples; the value of investing in the next generation had been modeled for us. While times had changed the basics were the same; open doors, food and freedom to share were all that was needed to fill a living room with couples.
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I pour the coffee; hers black and steaming hot, mine still laden with cream and sugar. She settles in at the table and we chat for a bit about books and crafts. She never arrives empty-handed. She always has something to share, whether it is the “other half” of a loaf of bread or a treasured knick-knack that “just looked like you”.
She’s a widow now; she’s buried a son and today she lives half a mile from my house. I marvel at God’s grace; the gift he has given us to celebrate the relationship that started at a kitchen table over a cup of Folger’s coffee all those years ago.
I love to sit across from a woman who has traveled the road ahead of me. Our conversation always shifts to God’s faithfulness. We confess our frustrations and fears and there are sometimes tears. Unwavering faith in God and his sovereignty does not remove the sting of loss or the heartache of disappointment, but there is great comfort in shared burdens and joys.
He built us for relationship; it is in the communion of our hearts that we remind one another of his promises and his faithfulness. Who has invested in your life? And where, my friend, are you investing in the next generation?
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So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18 ESV
Grace to you,