My first conscious decision each morning is choosing a coffee mug for the day. I press the button on the Keurig machine, then select a mug from the rollout drawer beneath it.
The choice I make hints at the state of my early morning spirit. It may also require a quick think about what I expect the day to hold.
If my spirit needs a boost, I select “If the shoe fits, buy it in every colour.” I laughed when I found this mug at Thrift on Kent, and I still smile each time I reach for it. It reminds me of my Dad, who bought his dress shoes from a salesman who came to the house by appointment. If Dad liked a shoe, he bought two pairs in black and one in brown right away. We had lots of his shoes to give to the thrift shop when my parents moved to a seniors’ community.
If I feel mellow (or want to), I grab the stoneware mug with an historic blue and rust design, created by potter Mark Nafziger. We stop by his studio at Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio each fall when we visit Sam’s sister nearby. That mug settles me down as my spirit is drawn to its understated beauty. It’s a good choice when I’m offering spiritual direction or nearing a writing deadline.
If I want to relive a recent vacation on Prince Edward Island or Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, I reach for the mug with the pink Lady Slipper. I’d seen this design ten years ago in a potter’s shop on PEI, and almost purchased a mug then. I was pleased to locate Malcolm Stanley in Victoria-by-the-Sea this summer and to find that he still creates Lady Slipper mugs. I asked him how easily Lady Slipper orchids can still be found on PEI. “If you’re willing to tramp deep enough into the woods in June,” he replied, “you’ll find them.”
In addition to these three current favorites, I also treasure three nostalgia mugs, choosing them when the spirit moves.
Sometimes the mug by St. Jacobs potter Phil Yordy attracts me for no particular reason. Its dancing design lightens my spirit. The pink and green colours remind me of the communion ware Phil created for Waterloo North Mennonite Church while I was a pastor there.
When administrative work looms, I might be drawn to the pleasing blue-grey mug by Winnipeg potter Alvin Pauls. I received this mug when I completed my term as chair of the Christian Formation Council of Mennonite Church Canada. It whispers to me, “OK, Sue, let’s settle down and get to work!” I find the thumb rest on its handle comforting.
When I need a smile, I’m likely to pick up the old round brown and beige mug from The Electric Brew in Goshen, Indiana. That comfortable, quirky coffee shop in my college town has often been a “must do” stop when we’ve visited there.
The Electric Brew came to Goshen long after I studied there, but something about its first location on Main St. brought back the vibe of the student publication offices I inhabited 50 years ago. The Brew still makes me feel energetic and happy. It also reminds me of my sister-in-law, who has had coffee there every weekday morning for years….
The reality is that for health reasons, I try to restrict myself to one cup of coffee a day – and that cup is a decaf. So after I breathe in the aroma and savour the taste of that one marvelous cup, I sip water from my mug for the rest of the day. Drinking the water out of a special mug allows me to pretend that I’m still able to imbibe five cups of high test coffee a day. And the mug offers a much more satisfying experience than drinking water out of a glass or a water bottle.
Years ago I participated in a group experience of Joyce Rupp’s book, The Cup of our Life. At the beginning, we each chose one special cup for the whole six weeks of daily meditations. I have no idea which mug I selected. I don’t know how I could possibly choose just one now.
But when I asked my husband Sam if he has a favorite selection of mugs, he said, “Only one – the newer one from The Electric Brew.” When I wondered why that one, he responded, “Because it’s big and sturdy!”
Questions for Reflection:
- What is the first conscious decision you make each morning?
- What special object in your home or office – a mug or candle or plant or art print or something else – nourishes your spirit for the day?
Next week: My first mentor