Feeling a little sorry for myself, I drove to the Starbucks in Camp Hill this morning to work where I wouldn’t be underfoot for the cleaning lady.
A mother and son sat down next to me, the mom an elegant, Middle Eastern woman with dark skin and long hair, an expensive though casual outfit, and a pair of unlikely and inelegant shoes – desert boots – which, along with her face, said sixty. The son was nice-looking, maybe 30ish, dressed in jeans and a windowpane-checked shirt with a lightweight quilted vest, and loafers without socks. They talked about a family business, a restaurant. He complained, mildly, that his mother compared his new girlfriend to his old girlfriend, “practically every day.” Her smart phone (cracked screen, fuschia case) sat on the table while she ate food she brought in with her, but they both drank coffee from those red holiday cups.
Wherever they came from, they’re here now. Their family owns a restaurant. They meet and drink coffee.
He goes back for a second cup, an Americano.
They are living fully where they are planted.
Part of my pity party revolves around my grown-up children. I miss them. They are living their lives in Brooklyn and Boulder and Northampton. I am living mine in South Central Pennsylvania. They are doing what I hoped, pursuing their interests and working hard to make the most of the gifts God gave them. The actor (Brooklyn) and the musician (Boulder), both craftsmen, audition and perform and take class and rehearse. The student (Northampton) shows us with each passing week that she is truly a scholar as the grades come in and all the things she feared weren’t good enough get an A-.
But what am I doing with myself?
I’m continuing to grieve the end of my work in the local church. Most of the time it’s okay. I understand the reasons it isn’t happening and may not again. There are other things I’m doing, but they don’t pay anything right now and they may not, ever. I find that hard. There is, after all, a daughter in college, and a younger child who will get there eventually. I sort of thought if God really wanted me to be doing particular work, it would end up paying, which would be great for practical reasons even though it’s not the ultimate mark of value.
In the midst of my pity party (Classic Coffee Cake and a Tall Mocha), I opened the text for this week and proceeded to be worked over by it.
Honestly, I expect this from the Revised Common Lectionary. We’ve been in relationship since the late 1980s. Inevitably, some portion of the various texts takes me by the shoulders and gives me a good shake. But it’s all new with the Narrative Lectionary. How can it know me so well?
Still there he is, Jeremiah, ready to take me for a ride around the block. Not only is he exhorting the Israelites to make a life in Babylon, he assures them that God has a plan for their future.
I am such a proficient mourner! By the waters of the Yellow Breeches I lay down and weep for Back Cove. I pine a little, anyway. Mostly I pine for a sense of identity and a place to go.
When Google Maps asked if Kathryn’s church was my “Work,” I admit to feeling a sense of despair. Instead, I typed in this Starbucks. (12 minutes from home, under average circumstances. Clearly, this is a first world pity party.)
Immigrant or exile, I admit I am struggling to carve out a new identity for myself and to get somewhere in the work I am doing.
“I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Common English Bible)
“Write your stories. Craft your prayers. Listen. Read. Turn the farm share into a nutritious and interesting dinner. Love your family. What’s next is next. For now, drink coffee where you’re planted.”