The Perfect Cup of Coffee


     I am a coffee expeditionary, in search of the perfect cup of coffee.  That coffee would have the perfect balance, the perfect clarity, the deepest richness, the right surroundings.  It would have shalom, with nothing missing and nothing broken.  I am getting closer to it.  I have meticulously visited and reviewed over 60 places, most of them in New York City, looking for that perfect experience.  Some day I will tell you where I think you can find the best cup of coffee in the city, but not today.

     Today I have put a picture of a cup of coffee I drank a couple of weeks ago.  It came from Hardees.  I had steak and eggs and biscuits covered in gravy with it.  The meal itself costs $2.99.  Here’s the story behind it.  Some men from our church were going on a work team to North Carolina to work with our friend, who helps people in one of the poorest counties in the state.  For a number of reasons, we chose the cheapest way to get out of the city.  The bus left from Chinatown at 10 pm.  It was so crowded and chaotic, I didn’t know if all the men would get on.  We were told to sit in our numbered seats, but people just sat down and refused to move.  Somehow we all found a seat and the bus headed from Manhattan to NC through the urban night.  We all slept and snored and turned in our seats.  As the trip continued, the smell from the restroom, each time the door flew open like a screaming mouth, was almost insufferable.  The last two hours, the door was locked, and no one could get in.  Then we endured a different kind of suffering.

     But people’s spirits were pretty good, and we all watched the sunrise as we tooled through the country side the next morning.  For New Yorkers it was great to see the redbuds and the dogwoods flowering by the side of the road in the dawn.  We arrived at our destination and were reunited with one of our other compatriots from Graffiti church.  Another friend picked us up.  We went to have breakfast together at Hardees–with coffee.  That coffee was so good.  It wasn’t really about the coffee.  It was that we had survived together the dark night of the soul in the bus and the work day ahead was full of gorgeous unknown possibilities and we were facing it together.  That was what made the coffee so excellent.  Talking about coffee isn’t really about coffee at all.

     I speak about this puzzle in the book that just came out.  Sometimes we get so focused on a goal, that we forget the gift.  You know what I am talking about.  Leaders who are very result-oriented can sometimes be the worst.  I know I’ve been that way.  We think we know what we are looking for.  Kind of like a stairway to nowhere.

Taylor Field

The Upside Down Leader


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