Monday, February 06, 2006
My Take on a Classic
I have measured out my life
with coffee spoons.
A young woman went to visit her mother one morning during 10:00a.m. coffee time. Between sips of coffee laced with cream and sugar, and nibbles of Windmill cookies, the young woman began to unload her current frustrations. (Usually she'd babble away at the beauty shop or with her girlfriends, but this time the situation called for more extreme measures.)
Her mother sat patiently, listening to her daughter describe the frustration of wanting to have more energy to be a good wife to her husband, to be able to make more friends easily at church, and most of all, how to resist the urge to throw a pity party when it felt like God wasn't very close. Through salty tears of frustration, the daughter confided that she was exhausted--emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and didn't know how to cope any longer with the struggles that never seemed to ease up.
The mother set her coffee cup down on the table with a "clink", and confidently strode across the room to the kitchen. Before the daughter could ask what was going on, her mother beckoned that she join her in the kitchen. The mother quickly and efficiently pulled three different pots from their cupboards beneath the counter. She then reached into the refrigerator for a single raw egg and a handful of crisp carrots. Last but not least, she retrieved the coffee beans from where they rested on the counter, having just been finely ground by "The Magic Bullet."
The mother instructed her daughter to fill each pot with water and set them on the stove. The daughter complied, despite being utterly bewildered as to how this was going to solve her problem. She watched as her mother wordlessly gathered the three ingredients and placed them each into a pot of water.
In the first, she placed carrots.
In the second she placed egg.
And the last she placed ground coffee beans.
The mother set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes and returned to the kitchen table where she finished her cup of coffee. When the timer let out its urgent alarm, she returned to the stove and turned off the burners one by one.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the egg out and placed it in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she said, "Tell me what you're seeing."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied, "but I know that's not the right answer."
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they felt soft, overly tender to the point of being mushy. (As a newlywed, she was quite familiar with that type of carrot.)
The mother then asked her to take the egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside, but the yolk had become so overcooked that it crumbled at even the slightest touch. (Again, nothing new to the novice chef.)
Finally, the mother urger her daughter her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
"It's not exactly a toffee nut latte, but it's certainly more appetizing and pleasant than the carrots or the egg. But what exactly is the point?
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid center. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its insides had become hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water...they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "And how do you think God would have us respond to life's difficulties? Are you a carrot , an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt
and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?
Did I have a fluid spirit, but when the winds of change kick up a storm, haveI become hardened and stiff? Does my outer shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water - the very circumstances that bring the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of the bean. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you instead of letting it change you.