The Zen of Coffee

Though I avoid religious topics on my blog (except for this one strange exception), I am a deeply spiritual woman.

Though I assure you this wasn’t always the case.

There were many years when I didn’t know what I believed; I spent a long time searching for a way to connect with a god I didn’t believe in yet. I knew something was missing but couldn’t quite articulate what it was or how to fill the void. The important thing is that I never stopped looking. Eventually – gradually – I found my higher power and my spirituality.

I’m not going to share my definition of god because it doesn’t matter.  My understanding of a higher power isn’t all that unique and it certainly isn’t more important than anyone else’s definition. Frankly, my god isn’t even all that well-defined; I don’t need it to be. What I know is that when I’m connected to my god I feel at peace with whatever is happening in my life.  But orbiting even just a little too far from my higher power can lead me to a sense of malaise, confusion, and the belief that I need to control more things, more of the time (which we’ve learned doesn’t work out well for me).

Even before I had a god that made sense to me, I sought out opportunities to meditate. It’s no surprise then that I’ve been attending a women’s meditation retreat for nearly a decade. The retreat itself is at a convent, which is deliciously ironic since I had to leave the Catholic Church to find my god. Though a completely agnostic event, the meditation retreat is supported and facilitated by a group of salt-of-the-earth, tell-it-like-it-is nuns.

It was one of these nuns that changed my spirituality, forever.

I was at the retreat during one of my searching years.  Though a young twenty-something, I couldn’t sit still and the meditations were profoundly – even physically – uncomfortable for me. I asked one of the nuns, Sister Maureen, to sit down with me so that I could tell her what was going on.

“Sister,” I explained, “I have a god but it isn’t yours.  I’m sorry if that offends you.  Can we still discuss spirituality?”

Sister Maureen gave a hearty belly laugh and said, “Ryan, spirituality is simple.  And God is big enough for all of us.”


I pressed on, “I know life works better when I’m connected to my higher power.  I just don’t know how to get plugged in on the day-to-day.”

Sister Maureen paused.  She nodded.  And then she asked me, “What’s the very first thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning?”

At the time, I was a newly minted college graduate and middle school teacher who had to be up at o’dark hundred.  So I answered honestly, “I pour a cup of coffee.”

Then she said the thing that changed my life.

With a slight smirk she replied, “Pour two.”

And just like that, it all clicked.  The way to connect with my higher power is to create god space in my life. And no, it doesn’t have to be something special; it only has to be something natural to me. Like pouring an extra cup of coffee.

I thanked Sister Maureen for her time and walked to the door when I heard her say, “Oh and Ryan?”

I turned as she continued, “God takes his coffee black.”



 Image: Stuart Miles /


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