I want my home to be filled with both the radiance of Christ's light and the scent of coffee beans.
When I first drank high-quality coffee, I began to see that my coffee-drinking habits did not have to revolve around the coffee from gas stations or instant coffee granules tossed into microwaved water. As the years went by, I began discovering local coffee shops that use freshly roasted and ground beans to make cups of coffee that are bursting with flavor. I eventually attended a coffee cupping, and my desire for fancy syrups in coffee decreased as I sought to detect the subtle nuances of various roasts and beans. While I don't consider myself a coffee snob, and will happily drink any coffee that is offered to me (even with cream + sugar), I personally want to craft better coffee at home than I'd get at the local diner or gas station.
Over the past six years, the coffee I make has increased in quality. However, there are moments when I think about how my coffee could be better. When I read books or articles about high-quality coffee, and see the way that water temperature and specific measurements are emphasized, I can feel a little dejected.
There are so many things I would need to do if I want to make coffee that is ACTUALLY good, I'll think. But those aren't realistic right now. Am I doomed to mediocre coffee for the next several years?
Similarly, I've found that it's easy to look at my spiritual life and say, Well, I can't do x, y, and z, because of work, kids, and life. So what's the point of trying?
Just last summer, I was thinking about inconsistent I've been with getting silent mental prayer in each day. As I berated myself for this, I thought about how there was a period in my life when I would get about an hour of silent prayer + Scripture reading in each weekday. There was another point in my life when I'd visit a chapel every evening for silent prayer before bed. I thought about those times in my life, and wondered why can't I just get back to what I did then?
The reality is that I can't get back to "what I used to do," because my life then was very different. That was pre-kids, pre-marriage, and that time when I visited the chapel each evening? My college dorm room was right across the hall from the chapel, so it was easy (and natural) to visit Jesus before I headed to bed.
But, even if I can't get in an hour of silent prayer each day, and even if I can't achieve high-level coffee at home, I can still take steps towards holiness and good coffee.
I shouldn't despair because my electric blade-grinder is not as efficient or good as, say, a conical burr grinder would be. I bought the grinder I could afford, it works decently well, and using it has been a small way that I can achieve better coffee.
I shouldn't despair because my regular mental prayer consists of 5-minute segments in the morning or evening instead of a lengthy period of complete silence while the house is still.
I shouldn't think that just because I don't have a gooseneck kettle or a scale or perfectly filtered water means that I'm doomed to drink terrible coffee at home.
I shouldn't think that just because my prayer books are in disarray and my various devotional prayers are all over the place means that I'm doomed to fail in becoming a more prayerful person.
Sipping on my coffee, I realize that actually, what I have just crafted is pretty good. It may not be as incredible as the pour-over I could buy from the local roastery, but it's still good. My lifestyle as a mom of young kids, budget, and kitchen space right now are not conducive with a plethora of new gadgets or being highly meticulous like the roastery. That's okay. Instead of focusing on what I can't do or use, I've been learning that I should focus on the small, realistic steps that I can take.
I've been realizing that God does not want me to despair or beat myself up over not being as contemplative as I think I "should" be. This doesn't mean that I can simply throw up my hands and forget about developing a prayer life. Lately, I've been thinking about how choosing to walk in the light (1 Jn 1:6-7) involves making the conscious and active decision to live according to God's truth. Even if I don't think I'll ever achieve tremendous heights of mystical prayer and deep union with God during my life here on Earth, I can't let my own inadequacies prevent me from embarking on the path of sanctity.
I can guarantee that you will probably never see latte art
in my kitchen, but it's nice to look at, isn't it?
I cannot craft better coffee at home simply by saying, "I wish I could make delicious coffee." Instead, I can do things to help me achieve this goal. Maybe it's not what the barista would do, but it's what I can do. So I'll do it, and try to do it well and consistently, and maybe I'll wind up getting that satisfactory cup of coffee. Perhaps I'll even become a holier person along the way.