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bitter coffee

By way of encouragement, God tells us in scripture: “I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart…” (Ezek. 11:19). But I’m still waiting, asking myself when and how will this happen.

In our community the other day there wasn’t much coffee.

Coffee does me good down here in the desert… it helps me… I am old.

I was worried about not having any, about spending a few hours feeling dull and weak, and so—without perceiving the evil I was doing—I went into the kitchen before the others and drank up all that was left.

Afterwards, having suffered all day and made my confession, I thought in shame of my selfishness, of the ease with which I had excluded my two brothers from those black, bitter remains.

It seems a tiny thing, yet in that cup of coffee, taken and not shared with my brothers, is the root of all the evil which disturbs us, the poison of all the arrogance which selfishness, riches, and power create.

The difference between me and Jesus is right here, in an affair that seems simple but isn’t at all; after a whole lifetime it is still there to make you think. Jesus would have left the coffee for his brothers; I excluded my brothers.

No, it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours: let us confess it.

—From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

I love Carlo Carretto’s writing. His confession is painful to read, only because I’ve done it a million times myself. Few people would ever want the coffee I willingly drink.  But it’s never really about the coffee, is it? Of all the “tiny” things we hoard unto ourselves, it shows our own willingness to make life about “me.”  That’s a big issue these days.  I’m not talking about self-care, healthy self-consciousness, or reverencing the temple of God. I’m talking about a mental and heart callousness that only sees life through a lens that considers “me” first… in everything.

It seems we’re not convinced there’s any good (or God) in us at all. How many selfies do we have to post in order to convince ourselves (and everyone else) that we’re okay… that we’re beautiful… or smart… or in the flow of positive light and love? We gorge and hoard “ourselves” because we’re not convinced.  We don’t trust what we know in our hearts or see with our own eyes. And maybe that is the problem. We just don’t know.

Carretto pretty much nails it in this little story, and he’s right: “[…] it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours.” He’s also right about what Jesus would have done. Not just about the coffee, but the whole idea of getting-life-by-giving-life mantra. Our biases have us so selective, and so exclusively focused, that we rarely consider anything outside of our own intellectual or emotional packages as being legit, relevant, or important (INCLUDING: RELIGION, POLITICS, JUSTICE OR SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS). This addiction to making my life about “me” has massive drawbacks that we can’t even imagine. It’s harmful to the entire human flow.

The thing is, God will allow you to make your life about “you,” because we have free will.  And God will still love you regardless. But it is shrinking your world.  You might think that making everything about “you” makes life bigger, better, more exciting, sexier, smarter, or more interesting, but it’s a nasty little lie. Hang around people who have made life about themselves long enough, and you’ll be bored within 10 minutes. Spend time with people who choose to give their lives away daily, and you’ll feel the vastness of their spirit. Rohr calls these people, “larger-than-life people.” These are the people who live out of the mystic fragrance of Christ.

What are we to do? How do we reverse this ugly obsession of ours? Being aware that life isn’t about “me” is probably the right first-step. —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lisa
    May 19, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Thank you Mike. I need this. So very much “on point.”
    God bless you and yours.
    ♥️Lisa Spitzer

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