COFFEE AND PRAYERS
By Caleb Dros
I didn’t know it back then, not until I thought about it, that something as simple as coffee and prayers on those lazy Saturday mornings would end up meaning to much today. You see, when I was a child my grandmother would take me to her mother’s house. There she and her sisters would sit down with the matriarch, sipping coffee and all sorts of treats while they catch up and maybe do some religious banter.
She was quiet. I didn’t know her well. And every time she met me we had to be re-introduced. My great grandmother had a few strokes and diabetes. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t remember things outside her children who surrounded her every Saturday. Actually, everyone was different. My brother and I were the only children there, and I hated coffee.
I was a chubby child. I still feel that way. I had a heart murmur that made drinking caffeine equivalent to drinking arsenic. I was a shy child. Sometimes I still am. I used to pretend to not know anyone, even though I saw them last week. And I was an ugly duckling. Sometimes I still feel that way. Whoever they were, they were okay. Whoever I was, I wasn’t.
They were different than I was. And to be honest I didn’t think much of it until later in my childhood. I still remember hugging grandmother’s skeletal-like body, and sometimes watching her being fed porridge from a syringe by Granny, who was a registered nurse.
While we were riding Oma’s wheelchair like a roller coaster and exploring her miniature forestry they called a garden, they stayed in the room talking about things I didn’t understand. Some things, I probably am still confused about.
But with time my understanding of spirituality and what I thought of god was changed. They were they. And I was me. God was God, and I was someone trying to follow that old church lady in the front row in leading a ‘clean life’. We were all different. And I felt bad for that.
Things changed since then. Gracey got cancer. My grandmother’s sister. Bad news but we all assumed God would fix it. His will be done. I didn’t think so.
“How God could let that happen” “If he exists, how did he let this happen?
I didn’t have an answer. Because I didn’t know who God was, and what was happening. But He continued to eat, and I kept on listening on the opposite side of the table. He was different. Daddy was a chef. Mommy worked for government. And often times I ate alone at home while they worked.
It wasn’t as lonely as it seemed. We loved each other very much. Mom still wakes up at 5.am to make lunch for the week for all of us. When I came home from school, Mom’s food sat there waiting for me. Sometimes there was a note. I ate alone back then, but alone and together with them at the same time.
And Dad wakes up at 3.am to make a smoothie before he heads off to work. He was a top tier chef, but he fed murderers and rapists at the jail. Men that killed children. Women that raped men.
They were different but we all had to eat. They were different but we all have to drink. We need love and water. And food and communion. I always think of that when I dislike someone, or think of them in an unkind way. No matter what. We are all the same person under all the wrapping. And to me that was proved by the way we eat. No matter what we eat. And no matter what, we all love.
And maybe that was God to me. When grandad came home drunk and needed a snack before he went to bed. When Granny prays and cries over her food. I’ve never seen such polar opposites fall in love before. “He doesn’t eat without me. We always eat together.” she said. And it was true. I’ve never seen them eat without each other.
When after church, grandma have lunch with us. Sometimes the whole family would join. When bullies at school that I thought I hated so much—when I see them laugh and eat with their friends at recess. I start to fall in love with all of them. And maybe that was a hint from God. And if different members of the same family, from any walk of life, can come into my home and eat together in the same home, then truly we are all the same.
I remember saying goodbye to my great aunt before I moved to America. She too was turning into a skeleton. She couldn’t down her boiled egg without eventually bringing it back up. I remember her complaints. It must be horrible to be that hungry. I hugged her. We said goodbye. I’d never see her again. I remember she told me “Caleb, Follow your Dreams.” Even in death she still smiled. I wonder what her last meal was.
Poor food, Rich Food
Church Food, Atheist Food
Family Food, Stranger Food
Commonality between Men, Women, Little children
Friend Food, Foe Food
Alone Food, Together Food
This is the circle of life.
This is the Food of God