Let me set up a headache-inducing scenario for you:
I was 8 minutes late to work today, which I would like to blame on the completely out-of-line construction that turned my usual commute into a parking lot. Nothing says “HEY THURSDAY” like realizing you haven’t moved an inch in minutes (minutes, I tell you). The audacity.
Okay fine, it wasn’t the construction. That only knocked off like 3 minutes. I get that.
So then it was the truck’s fault – you know, the one that drove in front of me and went the speed limit the entire time. (Like dude, “35” doesn’t actually mean 35.) So while I made a mental note to change my commute to a route that has more than one lane,
I ran out of new songs to listen to on Spotify. Even BTS’s new album feels overplayed, and my brother made fun of me for listening to the Sound of Music soundtrack on full blast, so I’m clearly running out of options.
“Just turn the music off Mads.”
But then when I do, my head starts to pound.
“No, I don’t have time to be upset today. What has today done to me? You’re fine, head. Stop pounding, head.”
And yet, I feel like my head had been pounding for months now.
I glance at the clock on my headboard – 9:35. I’m past the construction but now I’m waiting at a red light. Why can’t I just show up on time?
And so I spend the last 3 minutes of my drive subconsciously scolding myself for not being more disciplined in life. I definitely could have woken up earlier. I don’t actually need to wear makeup. I could have done without washing my hair this morning. That would have shaved off a few minutes. I should have taken the highway even though it’s my least favorite route.
*right turn arrow* *pulls into parking lot*
I should have slept more last night. I didn’t have to start that new K-drama.
*puts the car in park*
Oh shoot I forgot to tell them I have to go to my counseling appointment today at noon! I hope that’s okay. Dang it. Why didn’t I remember to tell them earlier?
And by the time I make it to my desk at 9:38 a.m., I’m exhausted. My fuse feels shorter than the hair on my legs (which, admittedly, actually aren’t that short, but the simile still stands.) When did I become so frenzied? When did I become so hard on myself? When did everything begin to feel like a cup half empty?
And yet, as the day has gone on, I’ve realized the real reason I was late to work today. It’s not because of all these annoying events.
Actually, It’s because my coffee maker still works.
In a season where everything feels fragmented and broken, my coffee maker still works. It really does! And it works well! I don’t even have to hit it or fiddle with any of the buttons! I just put the beans in, and I press the big red button, and then five minutes later it’s just THERE. Sitting there in all it’s pre-ground Aldi-brand glory! It’s amazing! Magical, really!
And every morning as I sip that coffee and rock back and forth on my patio rocking chair, it almost feels like a pandemic doesn’t exist. In that moment, I can almost pretend that I didn’t just start a new job and that I’m not nervous about it and that I don’t miss my family and friends.
While I sip my coffee, I can almost believe that all of the things that are sad but true in my life simply aren’t true.
I know that I can’t live there forever, nor should I, but some mornings it’s just so hard for me to tear myself away from it all and show up to work on time.
It’s strange to be angry at something that you can’t see or hear or touch. Being angry at a pandemic is kind of like being angry at God, except when I’m angry at God I know somewhere in my heart that God is inherently good and that we’ll get over it. But being angry at a pandemic… how can that anger ever be resolved? I see that anger come out of me and onto the people I love, or sometimes it just stays bottled up into I fall into a puddle of tears. (Which can become very awkward for any who get to be a spectator of those particular moments.)
Because I do grieve it all. I just began a job in student ministry and I want to meet my students. How do I work through my frustrations with the invisible force that’s standing in the way of that? I want to punch the disease-riddled air but it feels as pointless as it ever has, and yet somehow the air is still winning.
But hey, at least my coffee maker still works.
I’m thankful for those quiet moments every morning, just like I’m thankful for my roommate that makes me laugh. I’m thankful for coffee shops here in the south that make me feel like I’m back in Ohio again, years ago when I used to write more freely. I’m thankful for the color blue that is painted on my apartment walls. I’m thankful for flamboyant dancers that make cardio dance workout videos on YouTube because, let’s be honest, they’re amazing.
Maybe I’m supposed to think about these things far more often than I do.
As Tolkien put it:
The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
Yes, love does seem mingled with grief. Relationships seem mingled with tension that didn’t use to exist. The happiest of days are cast into shadow when you realize you forgot your mask or you’re not allowed to do things the way you used to do them. But perhaps there is still much that is fair. Perhaps even now, in a world saturated in sneaky grief, love can grow even greater.
I believe it’s true. I believe that God made our beautiful world to move on even after it comes to a stop. I believe He put a little bit of strength and beauty in you and in me that the world needs most right now. Like land after a forest fire, can’t we regrow? I believe we can.
Perhaps, no matter what happens, as long as coffee makers continue to work, love can continue to work as well.