May 8, 2016
Morning coffee has me thinking about giving up the microwave. Our maker of electromagnetic radiation gave up the ghost about six months ago. However, having returned from Ireland to a grant-based job—meaning the job could go away as the grant wrapped up—our daughter, Katherine, stayed with us until she obtained a non-grant job. Which meant, we used her microwave. It was bound to happen and sure enough, Katherine moved out with a non-grant job in tow. As the Volkswagen bug headed down the driveway with an outstretched arm waving out the driver’s window, I saw the last of the microwave through the bug’s back window.
I figured I knew how often we used the microwave. However, I never thought about how the microwave effected contemplative life.
When I finish chores in the morning I make a pot of coffee. Then sit and read or write. Inevitably, I forget my cup sitting beside me and the coffee turns cold. Not a big deal, I put the cup in the microwave, set it for 20 seconds. Hot coffee! One does not need to pay much attention with a microwave on the counter.
No microwave and my like for hot coffee have led me toward drinking coffee thoughtfully. Spring mornings allows for sitting at the outside table and listening to early birds sing as the eastern sky brightens. A transitional time arrives each morning when rabbits leave the pasture and head back to the safety of the wild landscape. Some mornings the owl arrives late to the roost and her swooping image is more than a silhouette. Sipping coffee, watching, and thinking and may not be the way of the traditional contemplative, but it does lend to a quietness.
Years ago, I read Tich Nacht Han describing how to pay attention to a simple swallow of water. The feel as the water enters the mouth, the taste, the movement of it toward the back of the mouth and down the throat. Whether coffee or water, paying attention is meaningful in life and life’s meaning.
The verdict is out on whether or not the microwave returns to our lives. It certainly makes life easier in a number of ways—which I figure there is no need to list, for don’t most of us all have one and cannot we all make a list? For a while though, perhaps we will live in a state of slight inconvenience, consider the sway of tree branches in the morning breeze, and sip hot coffee.