She pulled up to her favorite coffee spot, excited to enjoy a cup of hot, steaming snickerdoodle coffee. Luckily she found a parking spot directly in front of the popular Southern California shop, nestled into a tree-lined corner of a picturesque neighborhood. Gazing into the backseat, she considered her options; wake a sleeping baby or lock the car and quickly get the coffee. Since sleep was a rarity for her these days and because there was no line at the counter, she decided to lock the car and quickly get her coffee.
Upon entering the shop, a customer from within jumped in front of her. In haste and while gazing out the window at the car, she did something unusual. “Excuse me sir, may I jump in front of you to get a quick cup of coffee? My sleeping baby is locked in my car right there and I don’t want to leave her for long.” The man looked at her in astonishment and responded “Perhaps you need to decide how much you really need a cup of coffee.” Dejected and feeling utterly foolish, the young mom left the coffee shop and returned to her car in a daze.
“We must make the choices that enable us
to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” ― Thomas Merton
Not all moments in life are holy. There are times when we make choices that are absolutely wrong and without merit. During these moments, we usually act out of selfish desires rather than love. This is what drove the young, inexperienced mom to fulfill her desire for coffee, while comprising the well being of her baby. At the time, she did not consider her actions to be selfish, but it took a stranger to help her see the light.
Love seeks the good of the other, as other. When we truly love, we do not consider our own needs first, rather we put the needs of others first. In doing so, we experience a happiness and a freedom that surpasses any type of satisfaction we would enjoy when solely focussing on ourself.
I have never forgotten that experience in the coffee shop as a young mom in my twenties. In fact, it haunted me for many years. I had a hard time forgiving myself and felt that God could not forgive me for such a careless act of selfishness. Overtime, and with much prayer, I discovered that not only did God forgive me but that He loved me even more because of my contrition. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15-7
Not all moments in life are holy, but many moments ARE holy! We need to focus on the good things that we do each day. It is easy to get stuck in the past of unforgivable mistakes, but God is not there. God is here today, for all of us. He wants to hear from each one of us. Once we share the hurts, the pains, the sorrows and regrets with Him, all will be forgiven. (For Catholics, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a beautiful life-giving gift that I frequent often and recommend to everyone, even if you have not been in awhile.) Then, in time, the pain of past mistakes will lessen and God’s peace which surpasses all understanding will flood our souls with grace and vigor.
Coffee is still one of my favorite treats. I have fond memories of drinking it with my mom in little cafes along 6A in Cape Cod. And, I also enjoy it with my grown “baby” Grace, who is a gift from God and a treasure that I am forever grateful for!