Patience Throughout a Slow Process

I believe "instant coffee" has ruined us. The thought of a quick k-cup or a Starbucks drive thru can be tempting and appealing, but the ideal behind these is one of impatience and adds to the common misbelief that I am too busy to slow down and take the time to make a good cup of coffee.


The idea of anything being instant has caused a shift in the way we as humans perceive things. After all, this tends to be the generation of "instant gratification." From instant coffee to instant messaging, we move from one thing to another and we expect immediate reward or fulfillment.


We speed through life, filling our days with different tasks that need to be done. Our ever-growing to-do lists are never done. And with that, often times a cup of coffee is something that gets placed on a to-do list, as if it is something that needs to be checked off once it is completed.


Recently, after feeling the weight of a long list of to-dos and struggling with a lack of instantaneous results, I forced myself to slow down and make a cup of coffee.


I'm not talking about an instant cup of coffee where you press a button and walk away. I'm taking about a classic, thoughtful pour over. There are multiple steps to the process of making pour over coffee, and each step is vital to the process.


First, you have to pick the perfect coffee bean. Not every bean or coffee grind is good in a pour over, so your coffee beans are an important step. Part of the beauty of this step is also the miniature cultural experience you may have. Picking an international bean or an exotic blend is almost a guarantee, seeing as some of the best coffee comes from across the globe. Even though it is sad to say, often times that package of beans is the closest someone may get to ever actually experiencing that culture in person.


Next, you have to grind the beans. This is a step many prefer to bypass by purchasing coffee grinds instead of coffee beans. But in doing so, the coffee loses much of its oils and dries out in the process. For those of you who know coffee, you have seen the oils swirling at the surface of a fresh pour over and have tasted the smooth warmth with each sip. Even grinding the beans the night before so as not to wake sleeping family members in the morning can take away from the smooth taste. But who needs an alarm clock when you have a coffee connoisseur in the house.


Once the beans have been ground, you are ready to pour. But first, you have to rinse the filter. Pouring hot water through the filter washes out any paper residue, seals the filter in place, and warms the brewer. Skip this step, and your coffee may taste grainy or be cold. Next, you add in your coffee grinds. Even here, the small details are important. The size and amount of coffee grinds can make or break your cup of coffee. Once the filter and the grinds are in place, you are finally ready to pour.


Each pour of the process is a small lesson in patience. One must pour in slow and steady spirals to keep things even. And the water to coffee ratio is key. Too much water produces a weak cup of coffee, not enough water may make your cup bitter and sour.


This is the process I went through on Friday morning of a long week. I intentionally let myself be late to work, all for this process of making a good cup of coffee. Too much in my life had been fast paced, rushed, and unfulfilling.


But this cup of coffee made me believe in the fulfilling peace of patience throughout a slow process.


I felt an immediate sense of peace once the process was done. I had worked hard for that cup of coffee, putting in extra time that I thought I didn't have. And every sip was a reward for slowing down.

Underwhelmed, but Overjoyed

If you, like me, felt a little bit underwhelmed by yesterday’s eclipse, here’s how my attitude changed from one of being underwhelmed to overjoyed.


Yesterday, my day started as any normal workday, with the added adventure of watching the solar eclipse during the last class period of the day. The students were antsy in anticipation of the event, and the teachers were antsy in fear of not fully explaining the importance of wearing the special glasses for that said special event. We distributed parent permission forms to be signed, reviewed the dangers of looking direclty at the sun without protective glasses, and attempted to explain to students the importance of the moment they were about to witness.



Our school sent us a quick presentation that discussed the historical, mathmatical, scientific, artistic, and literary connections of the eclipse. The presentation also included a video about some of the wonderous phenomenons that could occur during the eclipse, such as the darkening of the sky and the appearance of stars. It explained how streetlamps would turn on in the enveloping darkness and how birds might chirp assuming it is a new dawn.



I quietly prayed, Dear Lord, please don’t let one of my students be the dummy who takes off their glasses and goes blind.



When we marched out onto the football field, my emotions swelled at the idea of witnessing this monumental moment. Our location would experience 96% totality, and I was thrilled.



We watched as the moon slowly crept across the sun, which was breathtaking in and of itself. The glow of the sun became smaller and smaller, until only a tiny fingernail sized sliver was visible.



And then just like that, the sun’s glow began to grow again.



And just like that, my enthusiam vanished.



I was waiting for the enveloping darkness, the display of stars, and the chorus of birds. Instead, the moment had vanished before I even really knew it was there.



I could tell that others around me felt the same way. I heard several Did-we-miss-it?s and some That’s-it?s. And shamefully, I felt the same way. Had no one told me there would be an eclipse that day, I might not have even truly noticed.



I continued to feel a bit cheated as I soon saw the plethora of social media posts revealing time-lapses in and out of total darkness and golden rings in dark skies. I wished I had been one of those adventurous souls to skip work and travel hours to a location of 100% totality, just to get the full effect of the event.



But eventually, I had a change of heart. I began to change my way of thinking. I determined that I had, in fact, witnessed something truly miraculous. Rather than be disappointed by the idea that 96% coverage did not produce more darkness, I began to marvel at the strength and power of that 4%. That 4% of the sun that remained visible produced more light than I would have thought -- enough light that could have fooled me into thinking it was a normal day.



I had been underwhelmed by the eclipse itself, but soon I was overjoyed at the hope of light.



The brightness of the sun, even at only 4%, was able to outshine the darkness. That 4% gave me hope that in all situations, even the difficult situations when it seems like darkness is creeping in, just a little bit of good or a little bit of light can go a long way. My spirits lifted at the thought of this, especially in today’s world that is filled with so much darkness. When it seems like the hatred and violence and intolerance has almost reached its totality, I’ll remember that 4% of light shining.