The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli

This is one of my top 5 favorite films of all time.

~~Originally posted on August 6, 2017~~

Sometimes, really good movies aren’t just something you watch – they’re something that happens to you. The first time I saw this past week’s movie it was quite an experience – mostly because it was a spontaneous decision, and I had no clue what it was about as I walked into the theater. It was a cold night in February of 2010, and I had gone to the movies to escape the rest of my life for a couple of hours. I used to do that more often when I lived around a lot of people. I couldn’t explain why, but sometimes I would just feel a need to get away, to be alone, to not have to talk to anyone, to rest and think. I’ve since learned that this is normal introvert behavior. That particular night my house had filled up with so many people that I couldn’t move. I was standing in the kitchen, watching as wave after wave of college students began devouring the meal I had spent half the day preparing. I was glad for my part in feeding them, and felt a deep satisfaction in my soul – and also an intense urge to quietly exit through the backdoor that I had been slowly pushed up against. So I did. And 10 minutes later I was sitting in an almost empty theater waiting to see what in the world The Book of Eli was about.

The movie pulled me in really slowly as it introduced me to Denzel Washington’s character (Eli) – a man walking alone through a post apocalyptic wasteland, bedding down for the night in some old shack as he carefully stokes to life the remaining juice in a scratched and scarred generation one iPod. He’s listening to Al Green’s – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, and it contains the first words you hear in the movie, providing the background chorus to the drama about to unfold on the screen. It tells us what is going on inside this strange character we’re being introduced to – it’s a very sad lament – the honest prayer of a man who has had his heart ripped out, and is desperately crying out for a reason to keep going. The song reflects the scarred over wounds we see on Eli’s body as he changes his shirt and settles in for the night.

Eventually you learn that Eli has been carrying something of great value for the past 30 years – the last remaining Bible to exist in North America. There had been some kind of war in the past that ended with the victors destroying all the rest of them. Conflict ensues when Eli encounters the villain of the story, a crafty warlord named Carnegie – played by Gary Oldman – who just so happens to be in search of a Bible. Every day he sends out raiding parties to scour the surrounding wastelands in the hope of finding one. When these two characters meet each other, all Hell literally breaks loose.

I won’t venture into much more detail about the plot, but at the core of this film is the examination of something that Christianity has had to wrestle with since the 4th century when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and something it’s still dealing with today – the clash between genuine religious experience and the perversion of it by political entities that seek to use religion as a tool of manipulation to gain or maintain power over people. At the time, I was getting my Master’s Degree in Church History (which is also an examination between these two opposing forces), and I found it very impressive that the history of Christianity was so elegantly captured and personified through the drama unfolding between these two movie characters.

Carnegie’s christianity is political. Eli’s is personal. Carnegie wants to use the Bible to gain more power over people. Eli wants to find a place where people have the freedom to discover the Bible on their own terms. Carnegie wants to use it like a weapon to manipulate the masses. Eli wants to preserve its integrity as a beacon of hope. In the middle of this conflict is Solara – the adopted daughter and slave of Carnegie. It’s her character that brings hope and brightness into the story as she escapes the abusive confines of her home to follow after Eli and eventually latch onto the same almighty power that drives him.

When the credits rolled I couldn’t believe what I had seen. I think it’s very very difficult for filmmakers to make a religious-themed movie that is not only well done, but that doesn’t come across as cheesy, or that doesn’t entirely miss the point of what faith is even about. I shudder inside when I think of all the bad – and I mean terrible – Christian movies that elevate mediocrity and overall suckiness to an art form. And thankfully, the twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes made one that rises above that kind of canned nonsense.

I didn’t just watch their film that night all those years ago – I felt it.

And that is why I give The Book of Eli 5 Coffstars , 4 Coff-buds , 2 Coff-tickets , 2 hallelujah amens , and 1 cat-kabob

 

The Bodyguard

The Bodyguard

This past week my Costner marathon took me to a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… Just kidding. It only took me to 1992, but I actually had not seen this one before, and it was written by one of my favorite screenwriters – Lawrence Kasdan. At last count, Kasdan has written more Star Wars films than George Lucas, or anyone else for that matter, including my favorite The Empire Strikes Back. He was also the writer for one of my favorite westerns – Silverado – as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark. There’s quite a diverse collection of films in his trophy case, including The Bodyguard.

Like I said, I had never seen this movie before, though I was very aware of it because of its music which has immortalized five of Whitney Houston’s hit singles on what is still the best-selling film soundtrack of all time. If you were looking to set the mood for a romantic evening back in the 90s, or you were pining for a lost love – you didn’t have to look any further than Whitney’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” which was a remake of Dolly Parton’s original tune, yet arguably the best recorded version of the song. Side note: I was neither pining for lost love nor attempting to generate romance in 1992, as I had only recently discovered comic books… “two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by,” you might say. 

So anyway, unlike the previous Costner films I’ve reviewed so far, I went into this one with a fresh set of eyes, and a desire to finally see this movie which had eluded my view for so many years. And I was glad I did.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Whitney Houston dons the guise of a mega-famous singer named Rachel Marron who I would imagine isn’t that different from her real self at the time – when she was at the height of her career. Because of threats from an unknown stalker her manager hires Frank Farmer (Costner), a former secret service agent under the Reagan administration. What is not as straightforward as the plot, is the dynamic relationship between these two characters. There’s a lot of grit in the details of what ends up becoming the love story of two people who are as different as two people can be. They are complete opposites who journey together long enough to reach a place of complete trust with one another. Kasdan reverses the traditional order of the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’ love story here by taking his characters first to a place of passionate romance, then to friendship, then to understanding, admiration, and trust. I’m not sure that it works quite as well on screen as the traditional avenue of trust, admiration, understanding, friendship, and then romance, but what does work is the complicated messiness of it all, the realness of the emotions spilling out of Costner and Houston, and the paradoxical beauty of two worlds colliding, smashing each other to pieces, and then being rebuilt into something new.

One of the things I really appreciate about older movies is that the Christological metaphors are usually not as subtle or as hidden as they often seem to be in newer films. That’s definitely the case with The Bodyguard. While the plot, as mentioned, is a non-traditional love story between two opposites, the wider meta-narrative is a compact declaration of one of the main themes in all of Scripture – best summed up by the Apostle Paul when he instructed the men he was addressing to, “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If you suspect I might be reaching a little too hard for this metaphor, take note of the very end of the film which closes with the prayer of a priest holding up a cross and echoing a portion of the 23rd Psalm, “even though we may pass through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us, guiding and protecting us.” Houston and Costner, having both grown up in the Baptist Church, knew exactly what movie they were making, and how timeless a story it really was.

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Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

It was the summer of 1987. All the stories about baseball seem to begin with reminiscing about what year it was, so I figure I’ll start with that. It was the summer of 1987, and the Hazelwood Hoosiers baseball team were celebrating their championship victory over the Pee Wee League. My dad was one of the coaches which makes it especially sentimental when I think back on it now. We had gone undefeated at 15-0 and quickly swept the tourney. Having reached the end of my three years in the league, and about to turn the grizzled old age of 10, there was nothing left for this right-fielder to achieve. So I decided to retire while I was at the peak of my career. For the next several years I just kicked back and enjoyed watching occasional games with my dad, or going to see the minor league Indianapolis Indians play at the old Bush Stadium from time to time. I even had a decent collection of cards and a Colorado Rockies cap. In a time when DVR recording wasn’t yet invented, the World Series always took precedence on our living room television set during evenings in the Fall. My memories of those times are all mingled together with campfires and the Charle Brown Halloween special. Even as I grew into my teenage years baseball was still magical.

Adam027

Then The Strike happened. The Major League Baseball strike of August 1994 became the longest strike in MLB history, and it killed the postseason and the World Series – something that had not happened in 90 years. It was all about money of course… Millionaire players and millionaire owners were fighting over who was going to have just a little bit more. It was a disgusting display of greed that played out over months and laid bare an ugliness that had been festering below the surface of the game for some time I suppose. Eventually it was settled so everyone could go back to being millionaires again. But the damage had been done, and for me, there was no going back. When that summer was over, and the dust had settled, my love of baseball had been shattered. What was sacred had been profaned, trampled upon, and broken beyond repair. There was no longer any magic in it for me. Maybe I took it too personal, but I felt as if something had been stolen from me. That’s what greed does to things that are beautiful – it takes them away. It destroys them.

Then I saw The Sandlot one morning and a part of that magic found its way back into my heart. It was like uncovering an old treasure to discover that there were some movies out there about baseball that were somehow able to capture and contain the essence of the game – the purity that exists underneath when all the other stuff is pealed away. These films are idealizations of the values, history, and sentiments that baseball conjures up for us. There was one in particular that my 10th grade English teacher showed to us in class the year following the end of The Strike – Field of Dreams – and it is, perhaps, the purest and most elegant example of this.

Field of Dreams told me a story about what baseball really was at its core – not a sport – but a religious experience.

The film opens with Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella standing in the middle of his Iowa cornfield hearing a voice. You probably already know what the voice said to him. It’s been echoing in my mind all week. “If you build it, he will come.” Sometimes, my mind likes to play puzzles and alter the words for me, so I end up hearing things like, “if you put it in the fridge, it will get cold,” or, “if you do the laundry now, you don’t have to do it tomorrow,” and my personal favorite, “if you let the dog poo in the park when no one is looking, you don’t have to pick it up.” But anyway, I’m getting off track a little bit. Back to Field of Dreams… It’s interesting to note that the morning after Ray first hears “the voice” he walks into the kitchen to discover that his daughter is watching an old black and white movie. We catch a brief glimpse of James Stewart from 1950, insisting that he’s talking to an invisible six foot rabbit named Harvey. Ray shuts the movie off, insisting to his daughter that it’s no laughing matter to hear something invisible talking to you. Eventually Ray has a vision that instructs him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He proceeds to do so with the support of his wife and daughter, provoking the ire of the townsfolk and his brother-in-law in the process. Once completed, the field becomes a sanctuary in which players of the past come to find redemption and peace. You can interpret all this in many ways I suppose, but I like to think of Ray as a prophet of sorts, listening to the voice of God and obediently carrying out his instructions. The Bible is full of people hearing God’s voice, doing what He says even though it sounds crazy, and causing the people who are watching on the sidelines to lose their minds. As Ray says during the opening monologue, “Until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.” Along the way he hears a few other things from “the voice,” and it leads him to find James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster – both playing the roles of aging acolytes in search of redemption themselves.

The beauty of the allegory here is that it’s not just in the film – it’s in baseball itself – and the movie is just a parable that’s showing us what has always been there. The ball field is like a church building. There’s the stands, the outfield, the infield, and there’s home base. These all mirror the essential parts of temples going back to ancient times. Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem once had an outer court, an inner court, and a Holy Place – and a Most Holy Place. Many of our churches today have a parking lot, a foyer, a sanctuary, and a communion table and baptistry at the center. In these places of worship, as on the ball field, people, friends, and families from the community gather together to participate in the same experience. There’s a structure to it all. There’s a rhythm. There is a set of rules that have been agreed upon – and there are guidelines that have been handed down to us from previous generations to show us how to follow them. There are emblems that give meaning, focus, form, and provide function for what is happening. In baseball we call these emblems the ball, the bat, the bases, the gloves. In the Church they are the Cross on the wall, the trays that hold the Communion Bread, the cups that contain the juice. Everyone has their place. Everyone has their own position to play. Everyone participates in some way. There’s the pitcher, the catcher, the batter, the basemen, the shortstop, the outfielders, the coaches, and the Ump. No one messes with the Ump. Even the spectators who aren’t directly playing in the game are invested in its outcome. There’s an energy to it all, an invisible force that pulls everyone together and puts them all on the same page for a few hours or so. It’s a spiritual experience. In its purest form there is no competition – only camaraderie, fellowship, and sharing time together – that’s the original intent anyway. It’s not really a game. It’s a sacred dance of worship. And in these sacred places, in the midst of the experience, encapsulated by memories, is an awareness of our connection to those who were here before us – those who shared time together and observed the rituals faithfully… those who found redemption on the field.

Like Ray Kinsella with his baseball field, we participate in our rituals as a means of re-connecting with our Father as well. And we do it to try and better understand what redemption really is, what it means, and how it will, in the end, take us all back to home base.

BEATLES Mug

Mug - 16My dad really likes this mug. I’ll admit, The Beatles have never been my favorite band, but I do enjoy their timelessly catchy tunes as much as the next average joe. Of course enough has already been said about them and the deep imprint they have left in the history of modern music and culture–I couldn’t possibly say anything new about all that. But for me personally, when I hear The Beatles (or drink coffee out of their yellow submarine), it brings back memories of all the music my dad and mom listened to… Especially the music they listened to when I was a kid, and the stations they would tune into during long trips in our family’s old Astro mini-van. I remember hearing as much Elvis and Creedence Clearwater Revival as I did The Beatles. Sometimes my mom would bring her cassette tapes and Amy Grant would all the sudden find herself doing an encore for The Beach Boys. I was too young to understand or care about the differences. My parents’ music all blended together. One moment we’d be listening to John Denver sing “Rocky Mountain High” and the next we would be hearing tunes from the traveling Gospel quartet who had been visiting our church a week earlier, peddling their cassette tapes along the way. My parents religiously (pun intended) bought the tapes of every person and group that came through our church–I’m not kidding. A few years ago I found a box that had close to a hundred cassettes in it–all from people who had visited our church over the years to share their music.

The point is… My parents didn’t play music, and they didn’t sing either, but they loved to listen and they loved to collect it. And they taught me to explore the art form on my own, and to discover for myself what I liked and what I didn’t. I think I was in 5th or 6th grade when I started really getting into music enough to want to own the stuff I liked. My parents would buy me blank cassettes, and then I would record stuff right off the radio. I remember hearing the DJ on 99.5 WZPL announce a song that was about to come on, and I would dash across the room so I could hit Play & Record on the tape deck. And my older cousins had tapes that they would let me copy. My cousin Toby introduced me to Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” — changed my life. That was back when Jon Bon Jovi was an actual rockstar, before someone kidnapped him and removed all the testosterone from his body.

My early musical tastes were widely diverse. By the time I was in high school I was practically in love with Amy Grant, because I had been hearing her sing since I was in kindergarten. But that didn’t stop me from listening to Soundgarden or Metallica, and REO Speedwagon when no one else was around. I remember one time I was in an IRC music store with my dad, and he was letting me pick out an album for my birthday–I chose “Appetite for Destruction” by the infamous Guns N’ Roses. He just shook his head and said, “OK, but don’t show mom.”

Like I said, my parents really let me figure the whole music thing out on my own. When I was young, I heard what they liked, and as I grew older, they gave me the freedom and independence to decide what kinds of music I liked. Just because they didn’t like something, or because some dumb televangelist like Jimmy Swaggart said it was evil, didn’t mean they would stop me from listening to it. And I’m so grateful for that now. They never bought into all the crap about “christian” music versus “secular” music, and how non-Christian music was all from the devil. My youth pastor and his wife were the opposite of my parents when it came to music. They were good people, and I learned some good things from them, but their views on music were not among the lessons I chose to retain. I always thought it was kind of funny that they cared so much about it. I mean, at the outset of every trip we took, they would assign a student to go around checking everyone’s music to make sure no one had anything non-Christian with them. It was fascist and imperial. And we all know the proper response to something imperial–(thank you, Star Wars.) So I made it my mission to sneak as much non-Christian music as I could on board the church bus. And I was successful at it too. I was a supplier for the handful of other “rebels” as well.  How did I accomplish this? How was I so great at smuggling contraband past the music police? Simple. My parents would let me use the outer cases of their Christian music CDs and cassettes to camouflage my music on the inside. When they came around to check my music, they would just see Michael W. Smith, Carmen, and of course Amy Grant… Never knowing that inside was Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and The Doors. Well, ok… Some of the Amy Grant cases actually had the Amy Grant cassettes in them.

Of course when I journeyed off to Christian college, things were on a whole new level. There was no actual rule against having non-Christian music, just a heavy fog of rampant judgmentalism toward those who did. I discovered this firsthand when the worship leader who lived next to me in the dorm almost had a stroke after seeing the Led Zeppelin poster on the outside of my door. I discovered it even more when during my second semester, my room was broken into and all the band posters (including a 6 foot Sgt. Pepper’s display) were all ripped from the walls and replaced with notes warning my roommate and I about our impending journey on the highway to Hell. But we had fun with that sort of thing. A few of my friends got together one night and did a live cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze for the entire campus. That didn’t go over too well. But anyway… “we all want to change the world.”

And it’s great, what kind of memories a coffee mug can conjure up.

Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman and Facebook on December 4, 2014

Mom’s Mug

Mug - 15This mug has been in my parent’s house a long time. It was my mom’s mug of choice. I remember many Saturday mornings, waking up to cinnamon rolls, and mom asking me if I would make her some coffee, always in this mug. It’s a Longaberger cup, more popular for their handwoven baskets–which my mother collected for the last 25 years of her life, slowly filling the house with baskets of all shapes and sizes. I can’t believe she’s been gone for over a year now. Watching her die was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced… Even knowing it was going to happen wasn’t enough to soften the impact of it.

Mom left us with a lot of stuff to sort through and box away and give away, but those are just physical things, evidence of her presence in a house that was made into a home by the kind of woman she was, and the character she had. Her kindness and her love were evident to anyone who knew her, or even heard her great laugh–a laugh that can still be heard from my Aunt Charlene–mom’s sister.

I have nothing but a brain full of great memories, and a heart full of the love she passed on to me. But when I try to pinpoint one specifically, I think back to about 15 years ago… I was in college at the time, going through a really rough patch. I had already dropped out once and then returned, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with my life, and the pressure was mounting for me to choose a path. Some people think Bible college is a safe haven of theological reflection and spiritual enlightenment. I suppose it can be that for some… But for me it was a crucible that tore me apart from the inside out and left me with more confusion and questions than clarity and answers. In the midst of one evening, feeling like I wanted to leave and drop out for a second time, I did what any boy would do in my situation… I called the one woman in the whole world who might have the answer–I called mom. And after listening to me whine and sob about the darkness and uncertainty of the world, she told me something that she never had before.

She told me that I did not belong to her. She said that when I was born, God spoke to her, and he said very simply, “this one belongs to me.” And she finished by saying that she couldn’t tell me who I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do, because I didn’t belong to her. She just told me to ask God. And my mother did many things for me throughout my life, but telling me that was the greatest gift she ever imparted to me.

Because asking God is everything.

Originally shared on Facebook on May 8, 2014

Giant Mug

Mug - 11This mug is really fun, and really huge! I keep this one in my office/classroom at the church and it is usually stocked with mini Reese’s Cups for the kids. To provide some scale for this pic I put my Ninja Turtle action figure inside it–that’s good ‘ol Leonardo peeking out over the rim there.

This colossus was another gift–as you might have discovered by now, I really like coffee mugs, so people who get to know me often figure out that they make great gifts for me. This was given to me by some good friends from Taiwan who, if memory serves, found it for me while they were visiting Disney World. I met several Taiwanese friends while I was living in Findlay, many of whom were graduate students at the University of Findlay. I met a lot of students there while sailing on the U.S.S. Curry House, and while serving through the church we planted in our house–called Night Church. But looking back now, some of our closest relationships were with the Taiwanese… a couple of them even lived with us part time, unofficially… And I really miss their sense of humor, their humility, their willingness to just jump in and help us cook or do dishes or clean the house, and also the way they would take to the kitchen and display their mastery over authentic cuisine with mighty elegance. Our church even had a softball team, of which they made up about half the roster.

So this mug entry is for them… Dennis, Beck, Ya-Lan, Ching-yi, Mo, Tracy, and the others… I miss you all, and your awesomeness will not be forgotten!

Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 23, 2014

Winebrenner Mug

Winebrenner Mug
Mug - 08As one of the previous Curry House regulars pointed out yesterday, sometimes these mugs have seen a little more than just coffee and tea. Such is definitely the case with this Winebrenner mug, which has seen its fair share of rice and curry.

It’s hard to think about my time in the curry house without also thinking about Winebrenner–together the two occupied nearly all of my time between 2008 and 2010. We were always grateful that the professors and staff at the seminary encouraged us so much, with many of them even finding occasion to come to our house themselves and share in our weekly curry night meal.

I think what is most interesting to me when I think back on curry night, is that none of it was planned. The four of us guys who lived in the first incarnation of the Curry House had already been cooking and sharing Indian food with our neighbors for years prior to us moving to Findlay. It’s just what we liked to do. It was hard to explain that at times, especially when leaders and pastors from some of the other churches in town would come to visit–always looking for the secret of our success; always wanting to figure out how to duplicate what we were doing. We always told them the same thing… The truth was that we really didn’t know what was happening most of the time, or why. I moved to Findlay so I could attend Winebrenner without having to commute four hours there and four hours back every week. I didn’t expect (none of us did) that within a few months of moving, a hundred people would be coming over to our place for dinner. It was not always that convenient, and there were many times when we didn’t think we could keep doing it (it was kind of expensive for four graduate students), but we continued on, putting ourselves into God’s hands and trusting him to provide–and of course he did. In four years we never had to call off the meal.

For those out there wondering how to do ministry… It’s not as complicated as we’ve tried to make it. It might include going to bible college or seminary, but it doesn’t have to. All you have to do is look at what God has already given to you, and then share it with those around you—for free!

Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 18, 2014

Russian Espresso Cup

Mug - 07This cup is really different from the others I’ve talked about. It’s not a traditional mug by any means, but I have had coffee and tea in it before, and it is the perfect size for an espresso shot. I bought this little tumbler at a factory that produces all sorts of similar goods. It was in an old Russian town called Semyonov, which was a few hours from Nizhny Novgorod — where I was studying for the semester.

It is hard for me to believe that was just over 10 years ago now. When I see the way Russia is often characterized in the news, whether because of the Olympics or because of the actions of its government, I just think to myself–that’s not the Russia I remember.  Those aren’t the people who brought me into their lives, into their homes, who took care of me like I was one of them.

Experiencing Russia was a life changing endeavor for me. It challenged me in several ways. Just living in a city was a new experience for me. It’s really too much to go into for a small post such as this, but I have written about it much more extensively before. If you follow this link, or type it into your browser, it will take you to the chapter of a book I finished writing in 2008 about my time in college. This particular chapter can be read apart from the rest of the book, and is a stand-alone story about the time I spent in Russia.

http://crossing-kcu.com/10-walking-in-russia/

Anyway, that’s all for today’s installment. As they say in Russia, “paca.” Until next time.

Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 17, 2014

Laura’s Mug

Laura’s Mug
Laura's MugI really love this mug. There is none other exactly like it on planet Earth. It was a gift from my friend Laura, a.k.a. @sweetlauralai (she also painted it herself, which makes it even more awesome). I met Laura at Kentucky Christian University back in 2002. I was skeptical at first. My bros and I were a close knit group. To be honest, there weren’t very many girls that you could just have fun hanging out with on the campus back then. They were either the kind who looked down at you for listening to ‘non-Christian’ music, watching rated R movies, and wearing jeans to chapel services–or they were the kind who just wanted to graduate with their MRS degree. There were some exceptions of course. Laura was one of the exceptions. I realized that when she was hanging out with us dudes one night, and during a conversation she just lifted her leg up and farted really loud–then went on like nothing happened. We were buddies after that. I think Laura was only at KCU for about a year or so before transferring to Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University), but we still stayed in contact and whenever our larger group of friends would come to my parent’s house to visit in Indiana, she was usually there. These days, I haven’t talked to her for quite awhile, but I still remember how fun it was to hang out with such a great sister, and I especially miss those times we would have long talks and pray together. I’m also really happy that this mug has survived all these years intact. I still have plenty more to talk about, and I’ve enjoyed sharing the others so far, but I think this one is my favorite.
Originally posted on Instagram @ajcoffman on April 16, 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