Within a few days we shall be entering the season of Lent, which is a period of 40 days before Easter. Lent is regarded as a time for self-reflection, a season when we give things up or seek to start new intentional practices, such as prayer. Before we get busy giving things up, take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life. When reading the novel Solar Bones, by Mike McCormack, I got such fun and pleasure out of the main character Marcus Conway on his visit to a coffee shop. Take a moment to read this short sample and be present right there in that moment, in that coffee shop, and enjoy what is all around you. We have missed such coffee shop moments during “lockdown” so perhaps this writing will be a treat on many levels. Enjoy.

…the waitress arrived with my order, leaving it down neatly on the table – coffee and a club sandwich with the cutlery wrapped in a napkin – the whole thing so neatly assembled and expert looking that I sat for a moment to admire the whole ensemble, the coffee with its brassy smell sunk beneath a creamy head which I was reluctant to disturb and the tidy way the sandwich was laid on the plate beside the small green salad angled towards me like a hip-roof and skewered at both ends by two cocktail sticks – the whole thing so complete in itself that it seemed only right to admire it before I dismantled and ate it which is what I did after letting it sit for as long as it took me to put milk into the coffee and stir it around, after which it was a pleasure to discover that the sandwich tasted as good as it looked and that there was no disparity or margin between its appearance and its taste which was moist with crisp lettuce, tomatoes and chicken between slices of warm toast and before biting into it this moment here, this crowed room with its clutter of chairs and tables, these people, with their separate thoughts and lives. I was overwhelmed with a sense of what a strange privilege it was to be able to sit in this coffee shop among other people who did not wish me any harm and who would, more likely than not, be happy for me if they were to know that I was having a good day – that my wife was on the mend and that my car had started and this was a tasty sandwich and that the sun was shining outside – I was now completely overtaken with a foolish excess of gratitude for this half hour in this coffee shop, a quiet spell among decent people, good food and the careful work of those who ran it…(from Mike McCormack’s novel Solar Bones.)

Holy God
as The Psalmist prayed (ref. Psalm 92)
so help me to pray.
It is good to give thanks
to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name,
O Most High.
With gratitude I wake
in the morning,
and in gratitude I rest
through the night.
help me
to see, and be thankful.
Help me
to declare your steadfast love
in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night.

One thought on “Gratitude

  1. I know many, myself included, who can feel a profound connection to McCormack’s last statement of gratitude for his coffee shop. One of my great pleasures after retirement was going to a local coffee shop at 6 a.m. every Tuesday morning. Those precious solitary hours of coffee, reflection, writing and observing became victims of the pandemic. However, the thought of one day resuming this routine has sustained me through many long days, and for that thought I am very grateful indeed!


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