My husband and I took our kids to Target today to pick out a toy with money their grandparents sent them for Easter. There was (intentionally) a little money left over, so hubs and I got coffee at the in-house Starbucks while our kids played with their new action figures.
"I'll have a grande coconut macchiato, iced."
I listen to other women order while I sip my tall decaf peppermint latte, and I reminisce about the time in my life when I would freeze up when it was my turn at the coffee shop register.
"Small...er...tall...er....decaf....hot...did I say decaf?"
I smile. I've learned my order now. I'm familiar with the liturgy of coffee in the Starbucks chapel. The barista is my acolyte as I lay my plastic-card offering down and receive my cup full of warm, liquid blessing.
I'm one of the odd ones that doesn't drink caffeine; it makes my heart race uncomfortably. Coffee (decaf) for me is a pleasure, not a necessity. But being in a coffee shop--now, that feeds my soul. I've learned the best way to get the most of my experience. Know my order? Check. Got the table near the outlet? Check. Use the facilities so I don't have to pack everything up in a few minutes to go potty? Check.
I've learned the liturgy of coffee. Sometimes, I travel to the shrine of the double-tailed mermaid with fellow pilgrims and we share stories of our lives, like Chaucer's sojourners. Sometimes I'm alone. Sometimes it's a magical experience and I leave feeling refreshed and energized or relaxed and confident. Sometimes it's just to catch my breath from the hectic pace of life, and I move on with my day, its regular frenetic tempo drawing me back in all too quickly.
It's Good Friday today. Two years ago on Good Friday, I had just been confirmed in the Catholic Church, just taken my first Holy Communion the night before. I felt connected to God. I felt confident and at peace in my observance of the most holy days of the Christian calendar. Going into the church for confession was deeply refreshing and I was experiencing the Triduum like I had always longed to.
It's Good Friday today. I worked out at the gym while my kids played in the childcare area. I took my kids to the playground at Sonic where they played in the sand and ate meat, and I played in the sand and looked forward to eating meat tomorrow. After naptime, we went to Target and bought them toys, and I drank my tall decaf peppermint mocha. But the cross has not been far from my thoughts all day long.
We didn't make it to confession today. We are finally recovered from a nasty illness that hospitalized one of us and wiped the rest of us out for over a week. It was nice to be out and about with people. And honestly, I forgot about the church service and confession times.
I'm tempted to feel guilty for how Good Friday has played out for me. But instead of guilt, I am choosing to acknowledge that I'm on a journey of learning how to practice the liturgy of the Church. It took me a while with the liturgy of coffee, too. (I have learned that peppermint syrup is easier to obtain when it's not Christmas...so I'm breaking with the liturgy some, too.)
Not every visit to the coffee shop feels the same, but I keep going back because I know I need those moments of grace--peace-filled, quiet minutes when I can breathe for a minute, or an hour by myself--both are moments of grace. Not every Good Friday will feel the same, but thank God it comes back every year and I have another chance to journey with Jesus to the cross. Every Sunday, I go to Calvary with him as he feeds me with his body and blood, broken and poured out for me. There is grace in the liturgy, grace in the rhythm of the calendar.
There's grace for this pilgrim, and for you, too.