My Half-Cup of Coffee

January 2011 Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article I have carried a certain worn-out bill in my wallet since March 4, 2006. It’s not there for spending. It’s not the one I keep in a hidden pocket, for when I run out of cash (that one does get used now and then, and is eventually replaced). No, this bill is a 5 Euro bill – the same bill that was left over after my family and I spent a month traveling in Europe during my Sabbatical leave.

It is in my wallet to remind me of the rich experience we had on that trip. It is there to remind me of how fortunate I am to serve a congregation that is supportive of Sabbatical leave (by the way: my next one is scheduled for the Fall of 2011). It is there to remind me of how important it is to continue the habits that made my three months away so meaningful. Slow down. Be aware of the presence of God. Breathe in the beauty that surrounds you. Take time to enjoy family and friends. Stay connected with the deeper questions of life. Every time I open my wallet I see that 5 Euro bill, and am reminded…

These days there is another reminder that calls me back to my center. Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning Ron Leighton stops by my office and brings me a half-cup of coffee.

I have to tell you, if you don’t already know, that coffee has fueled my mornings since the early 1970s. That’s when it was my job to punch in at

4:00 a.m., help unload the truck, and re-stock the frozen foods case at the local grocery store. When it’s 20 below outside, and you have a mile-long walk to work before sticking your head in a freezer for 3 hours, even a 15-year-old can appreciate the value of a hot cup of coffee. Since then my coffee intake has more often been measured by the quart than by the ounce.

So why does Ron bring me a half-cup of coffee on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings? Actually I’m not so sure why it is a half-cup (it has something to do with an old habit of his). But I know why he is there: he hosts an open house at Saint Peter every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning from 7:00 to

9:00 a.m. He is there to welcome members, friends and neighbors to make use of our labyrinth and Worship Center for a time of personal, private meditation. A quiet walk on the labyrinth in the cool morning air can be an inspiring experience. Having the darkened Worship Center all to yourself for a few minutes at the beginning of a day can be remarkable as well. Come to think of it, having a half-cup of coffee with Ron is a blessing too. Ron is gracious and kind to serve as our host, and offer these gifts to us.

He hasn’t had many customers yet. (We’re working on that. Perhaps you could stop by sometime soon and take advantage of his hospitality.) But I love the fact that he is there. It is a reminder to me of how important it is to take time to listen for the voice of God.

And, frankly, I’m glad it is a half-cup of coffee. There are times when it is important for us to relinquish our insatiable desire for quarts and quarts of stimulation. A half-cup can be just plenty. And it can leave room for what is more important. Slow down. Be aware. Breathe in. Take time. Stay connected.

God’s peace to you all, David J. Risendal, Pastor