It is no secret. I LOVE coffee.
Okay, I don’t just love coffee, I probably have what some might classify as an “unhealthy obsession” with coffee (not to be confused with an addiction, mind you).
I come by it honestly; anyone who spends any amount of time in a UU church is privy to one of our most widely-shared inside jokes: OUR communion takes place at coffee hour AFTER the service.
As a kid I fondly remember feeling the warm embrace of the lingering coffee aroma as I would enter the “Common Room” at our family church to join the adults after the Sunday service. I was captivated by the buzz of thoughtful conversations from grown-ups who were solving the problems of the world, pausing only to take an occasional sip from their mugs.
Even outside of our church, coffee became a staple in our family-gathering menus – coffee when we first woke up in the morning after spending the night away from home and coffee after supper to help dilute that bottle of wine that was polished off as we laughed about the latest game of trivial pursuit, won by the same person who wins EVERY time.
At times the coffee ran like water filling seemingly bottomless cups and, sometimes the cups were filled “only half a cup” at a time, especially for my Grandpa Joe.
Now, don’t mistake me for one of those people. You know the type; totally dependent on the caffeine. Although at times, I’ll admit, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Truth be told, there are days when I sip from the same “cup of Joe” all day—even after it gets cold. On occasion, I’ll even sneak in a cup of decaf. The reality is that the coffee is really less about that actual coffee and more about the comfort of the ritual. My mug is sort of my grown-up version of a blankie.
As an adult, I find myself seeking out places to get my comfort fix. Some of my fondest memories originated in coffee shops where I worked as a barista; engaging in philosophical conversations with customers I knew only by their preferred drink and listening to great music from struggling local artists.
I will forever cherish the terrible coffee at the “greasy spoon” closest to my college dorm room where many mornings were spent quickly finishing up philosophy papers due later that day, discussing with my classmates other philosophical issues totally unrelated to my project at hand.
Nowadays, my morning cup of coffee has become my daily respite; my time for meditation, my time to gather my thoughts and give myself my morning pep talk. To me, there is nothing better than soaking in the silence of a cold, dark morning, hot cup of coffee in hand. It gives me hope to think that when the world is seemingly so void of life that in five minutes or less, energy, warmth, and comfort can be brewed.
And, of course, there will always be coffee hour at church. There is just something about sitting down to coffee with good friends, family, or even a total stranger that inspires blow-your-mind debates and deep heart-to-heart conversations. It has often been over a cup of coffee that I feel the most alive.
If communion is supposed to be a time of sharing and of intimate fellowship, then I say that this certainly fits the bill. “UU Communion” may not be about Transubstantiation or the remembrance of Jesus, but maybe the joke is so widely told because our coffee really is so near and dear to our hearts. I know for me, nothing beats a “Cup of Joe”, or a half a cup, for Grandpa Joe.