Taizé Mug

Taizé MugThis particular cup is very unique. It comes from an old monastery in the middle of France known as Taize. A description from their website reads:

“Today, the Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. By its very existence, the community is a “parable of community” that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.”

I think it sounds like a pretty neat place, and it must be, because every year thousands of people visit the 74 year old Taizé community which was founded during WWII by a man named Brother Roger. Brother Roger himself was stabbed to death in 2005 at the age of 90 while leading the evening prayer service.

If you’re like me, I had never even heard of this place until I was told about it several years ago by a friend who had visited and in the process had acquired this coffee cup for me. The cup holds a great deal of meaning for me, and it harbors a great deal of irony as well. Sometimes, in this journey of life, we become alienated and separated from those we were once very close with… Sometimes, good friends can even become bitter enemies. Sometimes it’s our fault, and sometimes it just happens–and there is nothing we can do about it. But it always hurts. The friend who gave me this cup from Taizé has been long gone from my life, though he was once a very close brother. And even though we were deeply alienated from each other many years ago, I have kept this cup as a reminder of my friend–there is a hope there, however small, and I think of him whenever I drink from this coffee cup — made by the hands of people who have devoted their entire lives to Brother Roger’s vision of bringing together and reconciling Christians who have been divided.

Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 15, 2014

Boston Stoker Mug

Boston Stoker MugToday I’ll jump forward a bit in my coffee cup timeline. I guess they don’t have to be in chronological order. I obtained this mug from my days in seminary, and it’s the only one I have from an actual coffee shop. Boston Stoker is a chain of coffee shops in and around Dayton, Ohio. Discovered by my friends Keith, Kiel, and Jeff just off the Troy exit on the outskirts north of Dayton on I-75, they passed its location on to me sometime in the late autumn of 2007. During my first year in seminary, I commuted to Findlay, Ohio from my parent’s home in central Indiana every week for class. I would usually leave on Monday night or Tuesday morning, attend class on Tuesday evening, and return on Wednesday. That first year was grueling. It wouldn’t have been possible if my parents hadn’t allowed me to drive their only vehicle back and forth (because I didn’t have one at the time), leaving them stuck at home for those couple of days I was gone each week. It seems ludicrous, but that’s only a small example of how my mom and dad helped me over the years I was getting a college and seminary education. Along the same lines, my friends and I were invited to spend each week at our professor’s home on Monday & Tuesday nights while we were commuting–something we took full advantage of for an entire year! Dr. Gary Staats and his wife Janet opened their home and their lives to us on a level far surpassing the fragile understanding that many of us often have in regard to hospitality. I’m not sure how many trips I made up and down I-75 that year, and in the four years following–they became more frequent as my mom’s health deteriorated–but Boston Stoker was always there to help me along… They had the best coffee in Dayton, and the best bathroom for those much needed pit stops. And for that, I salute them!
Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 14, 2014

Arizona Mug

Arizona MugThis next coffee mug, like the one I posted yesterday, is also an old classic in the Coffman house. It’s been in our repertoire of mugs since as far back as I can remember. Though we did take a couple of family trips to Arizona in the mid 90s, I think it goes back even further, and was most likely a gift from my Aunt Charlene & Uncle Joe (Snell) who used to spend their winters camped out in Apache Junction, at the foot of Superstition Mountain. As a child I was always fascinated by their old farmhouse (near Hazelwood, Indiana) with its many mementos and pictures of the Old West. If you knew my Uncle Joe, then you also knew what it was like to sit in the company of John Wayne. Their house was a portal for my young mind to imagine the mysteries and wonders of Arizona, taking me forward in time to a place I would eventually see for myself later on when I was in high school. It was even more fascinating in person. And just as I once went forward through their mementos, their potted cactus, their pictures, and hearing their stories as I grew up–now I go back, through my coffee mug!
Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 12, 2014

Mug Stories – Great Grandma

White MugRecently, while setting aside some things that need to be packed away, and while unpacking some boxes that had not been opened since I left Ohio, I had the realization that a great portion of my life can be recalled through coffee mugs. This small white cup, for instance, saw heavy use in Findlay most recently, and if you ever had coffee or tea at the Curry House, chances are good that you’ve held one of these. But this is actually from the first set of coffee cups I can remember. I can still recall my great grandmother sipping her coffee from one many years ago (I must have been 8 or 9 at the time). It was Thanksgiving, and she called me aside later in the evening to talk to me specifically. She wanted to tell me about prayer, and how important it was (I think she was a Roman Catholic, but whatever specific strain of Christianity she held to, she was very devoted and very spiritually minded); she told me that God would always be there and would listen if I just took the time to talk to him–and though it seemed strange at the time, and most of my mind was probably elsewhere, I still remember it to this day when I see this coffee cup. It was the last time we had a conversation before she died.
Originally published on Instagram @ajcoffman – April 11, 2014