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Monday, May 26, 2014

When Whole Bean Faith Goes Through the Grinder

I pour the Costco-size bag of beans in Costco-size coffee grinder in the coffee isle there. The machine rattles beans and whirs grind and vibrates bag 'til ground up beans settle down into it. It slows to a long jitter. I wait, hand poised mid-air, to rescue the bag from machine hands that won't stop shaking. But what can I expect from a coffee grinding machine that's ingested nothing but coffee all day.

I retrieve the bag and do it all over again. That bag is Seattle Mountain Decaf. This bag is Texas Pecan and it's caffeinated. I pour the beans in the back of the machine and muse while it shimmies because it's shaking something up in me and it's a little uncomfortable. Can't put my finger on it, but it's just the violent trembling.

Thinking about it now, I can separate the pieces and poetically say that I was feeling from the machine what I've felt in myself before. Uncontrolled trembling that becomes shaking 'til I'm shaken out and seized down. And maybe so, but it didn't occur to me then and all that matters about it is what came out of it. Not the coffee grinds but the, "Um, God?"

And the,"Hmm?" He sounded like He had a mouth full of Texas Pecan brew just fresh sipped.

"What is this?" He doesn't follow my gaze because really He waits for me to follow His. And when I do, "What is it?" is my usual response. It's an industrial size coffee grinder. I know what it is; but what is it?

It's an inside-out question. It's one of those "what 'n' why" questions we're so used to carrying inside, so familiar with how it feels inside, so accustomed to searching for the answer that we can't find words to ask the question.

I find words when I follow His gaze. "What is it?" And "Why?" I stand in front of this grinder and what is it about this whole process? About cutting open the bag, spilling the beans right where they will be ground. Placing the empty bag beneath spout, attaching it there so that it will shake and shimmy and jitter 'til it's filled up with grinds? Then taped shut?

What 'n' why?

We're standing in front of the industrial machine and, "My friend Lazarus," He begins, "fell asleep. But I woke him."

"You woke him from the dead," I smell the coffee.

"I wept."

"Then You woke him from the dead." I smell the coffee.

"I wept," He repeats. "Selah."

I know that word. It means, "Stop and think" in lay-man's terms.

I've been thinking about "Jesus wept." Thinking for days because I'm a slow learner, in a good way. I really have come to appreciate slow. Even in learning. Because slow growth has deep roots and I want deep roots and nothing weedy fast. And fruit. And, yeah, beans count.

I think about it while scooping some of the grinds into separate plastic containers I store on the shelf above the mugs in the "coffee cupboard." One container is labeled "decaf." and the other "caf." I reach for them each evening in preparation for morning coffee.

"Jesus wept." Why? What for? Not for Himself; He knew He was going to wake up Lazarus. Not for Lazarus; he was about to be resurrected.

The usual answers are good enough for me. That He wept out of compassion for Mary and Martha. That He wept because He grieved their lack of faith. That He wept because, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live," was answered with, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." And with, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" Wept because those making the accusation against His level of compassion and priorities were the very ones whose own eyes were blind.

And the blind can't see His tears. And I have been among the blind. I have, I am grieved to say.

But Selah opens eye. It's "stop and think and brew the grinds" Because sometimes faith just falls asleep. Just lies there all bean pile in a bag. Until it's gone through the grinder. And faith just can't absorb holy tears 'til it's cried some tears of it's own because the grinder hurts.

Coffee Cupboard

I pop the lids off plastic coffee containers. I store the grounds like this because Costo-sized coffee bags won't fit in the cupboard. It's fragrant.

And shouldn't ground up faith release fragrance? If it's real, then it should. It just unapologetically should. Because prayers fill up bowls of incense in Heaven and what is prayer without faith?

Perhaps the most fragrant prayers are released essence that wafts from faith all ground up and that absorbs Jesus tears and lets the wet filter down through heart of faith grinds 'til the vessel is full of wet faith essence that can be tasted.

Faith is the evidence of things hoped for but not seen. And can I just absorb "Jesus wept?" Just let His tears soak straight into my heart 'til I pour out essence all fragrant? Until I drink down His pain and forget my own long enough to wake up and pray through the pour and pour out the prayer and then anticipate hope? 

Anticipate hope. And "anticipate" is "ante-caperer" in  Latin. It means, "take captive beforehand," and in Latin-based Italian, "caperer" is root word for "capire" which means "to understand." Can I understand because of faith before I see hope?

I can if I handle faith. Maybe I'd be more spiritual if I believed what dare I hope for without seeing and touching and tasting and feeling. But truthfully, I'm kind of like Thomas. I need to feel. It builds faith and "ante-caperer" hope.

So I handle it. And faith is prepared every evening in my kitchen. Yeah, at the coffee pot. And hope is anticipated there, too. And not because I'm a coffee junkie. I'm a half-decaf, one cup sipper. But after dinner dishes and after wiping down counters, I lift out coffee filter and dump the used up grounds down sink disposal. The day's grind at day's end, poured out and that's that.

I remove glass pot from bright red coffee maker and rinse it clean inside 'til it's ready to be filled with fresh in the morning. I take plastic lids off plastic containers. One labeled "caf" and the other "decaf" and the "caf" is the Texas Pecan and the "decaf" is whatever and that's what I think about decaf. anything. It lacks; but I lack, too.

I smell it. And measure it. And touch it. And anticipate. Ante-caperer hope of joy in the morning. I take hold of joy beforehand. Because I'm told it's fresh served every morning, no matter what was in the grind that I dumped at sink the night before. The garbage disposal grinds the grinds and swallows and doesn't complain or judge.

I snap lids closed on plastic containers and coffee maker and that's the last thing I do in the kitchen. It's act of faith. And I'm living the Selah pause because Jesus wept over lacking faith. And my faith lacks, too. But in the Selah his tears absorb into my ground up faith and I need this. Need Him to cry over me.

It sounds selfish, but it's just honest need and just the only way for my faith which is made whole only when it's been through the grinder, to look like what my hope is. Only way for faith and hope to saturate together and amalgamate into one full essence. Only way for pain and joy to absorb into each other. Only way for this miraculous essence to fill me for release. For release through prayer to fragrance Heaven itself. For release though pour to fragrance earth places where I live. Starting in my kitchen where mugs are set out and so much pours out in the kitchen.

I anticipate this essence. Anticipate while I measure out grounds and touch faith like that. Anticipate joy in the morning. Because He says so. And because He anticipated it, too. And proven it.

Real faith. It has substance. And maybe I have to keep reminding myself of what real faith is because I confuse faith with hope. I've believed enough to be saved; but believe right and live as one saved. And the only way I can live it real is to touch faith real. It's a hands-on faith. And if it looks like a bright red coffee maker with a see-through pot, then that's good enough for me.


I haven't yet brushed teeth and pulled up sheets, but I can hardly wait for morning. Because no matter what. No. Matter. What. And there've been a lot of pain-full "what's," but never mind. Because joy comes in the morning. It doesn't lean on what's going on in my life; but on what's going on in The Life.

I pour coffee this morning. Yellow dog mouths raw-hide and I say, "Let's go pray!" She nudges me down the hall and lies quiet at feet while I lay all at God feet. I'm filtered here. His essence fills this pot, and today I will feel His nudge to pour out. And that's faith, too. Feeling the nudge. Faith to pour out Living Water essenced in the filter where faith is not whole bean, but ground up fine and fragrant by the hard and for the "ante-caperer" kind of joy.

Mary's faith got all ground up. And Martha's faith. And my faith has been all ground up, too. I thought it was whole bean faith. But it's not whole 'til it's all ground up.

Somehow pain and joy, and faith and hope absorb into each other and there is Selah moment before the pour.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

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