Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monsoon Malabar

Susanna and I have been reading a lot lately. We finished Tim Winton’s The Shallows finally and then busted through Edgar Sawtell and are two thirds through Cold Mountain. There has been a few mentions of characters drinking coffee—descriptions of making coffee, holding the hot cups—that I’ve been wondering about how to find that same powerful, nostalgic moment in my days.

One morning this past week I made the perfect cup of Monsoon Malabar with the Clever Coffee gizmo. I realized how good it was as I was driving down College Ave to school. I was rushed in getting there and had to suck away quickly. I missed the kind of calm, solitary, watchful coffee drinking I’d been reading about. Cold morning. Wrapped up in warm clothes. Gripping the mug. But I kept thinking about the amazing balance of that brew. Hot. Strong. But not so strong that I couldn’t appreciate the roast of the bean.

Yesterday morning—Saturday—I went to church at 9:30AM to rehearse my role as narrator for this year’s Christmas play. My consolation of giving up my Saturday morning was going to be a thermal mug with another brew of Monsoon Malabar. Well, I used the larger coffee filter and added too much water and what came out didn't taste much better than the coffee they serve at church. That isn’t a knock on the church; it's a admission of the snobbery that many of us have taken to with our fancy pants, boutique roasted beans. I was probably 10 the last time I was in a Christmas play. Anyone know Psalty’s Christmas Calamity? Part of me wanted to do this because I want to experience who/what I am with all the kids, as an adult, as a father now (Casper is baby Jesus this year) and potentially as a pastor of a small church like Crossroads some day. There’s that model of a pastor I wonder if I could be, the children’s sermons, the warmth as a family man, the ‘let the children come to me’ picture of Jesus, multi-ethnic kids climbing all over his lap, birds flitting in the air around his shoulders. Apparently the rehearsal went well. That is what Celaine said at least, but I was still bumming on the poor coffee I’d made.

We slept and read most of yesterday afternoon. I woke up earlier this morning. I have an even better cup of coffee next to me right now. Robed with a blanket across my feet. The gas stove is on. It looks disgustingly cold outside especially because I know it rained yesterday and that snow is crusted ice now.

What do I do with this moment? I blog it. Judson sent me a link to Justin Vernon’s twitter account. As I clicked through it, I experienced the world of an aesthete. We saw him in concert a few years ago and yes, his performance evoked a sensual, emotional expiation. I’ve been experiencing many things deeply in this season. The dANCEpROJECt performance a month ago was at the beginning of much of it. Or was it really Capser’s birth back in May? I haven’t been writing much because this has been a season of seeing and doing, taking in, gathering, receiving. I never knew I’d be so moved by modern dance. Even the more lyrical movements of Sacred Dance last Wednesday grabbed hold of me. Cold Mountain is so visceral, Charles Frazier’s prose so evocative that I’ve been reaching for books of poetry (eg. Franz Wright) to keep me going. Two records I just picked up have been good food satisfying different appetites: Jose Gonzalez’ band, Junip and finally the Black Keys’, Brothers. Thursday night I was able to record six different student performances. Ben came in and helped me facilitate short 10-15 minute sessions with each. Then there was the team Christmas party Friday night. For the White Elephant exchange, Lauren turned a bobble head into something that evoked a strong resemblance of Larry playing the piano and I wanted it...bad. Jacob stole it. Leo made a certificate, a voucher for a date with Josh Banner. Scott Kuyper stole that. We talked about going skeet shooting because I had picked his gift, a box containing two clay pigeons. Mike gave me a Christmas ornament. He’d taken a picture of me holding Casper and pasted his own face over the baby's. Our prayer time was giddy and sweet.

In the midst of so much seeming division in our nation, I’m fighting despair by resuscitating my engagements with ‘things.’ Rilke wrote that we should ‘be near things.’ It is our public discourse, our feeding on technological trinkets. It’s as if so many are experiencing a collective heaviness, a depression. And there's death too. One friend’s father went last week. Lori’s father is in hospice. John’s dad and Susanna’s uncle are about to enter. Why are the holidays often riddled with such ‘when it rains it pours’ pain? Despite it all, in the face of it, I’m alive and kicking. And that is baffling because I’d expect at this point, the end of the semester, that I’d be numb, cold and aloof.

It’s having a family. Susanna said it last night. Having a baby changes everything. Suddenly everything matters more. Even coffee. We were made to experience the world with and through others.

1 comment:

Courtney Kay said...

babies do change everything... thanks for sharing your journey