Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)
So tell me, do you need a coffee cup to know that you are alive? No, of course not. You’re welcome … I just saved you a round trip to Arrol’s Drug Store in Seattle, to check and make sure. I first read about Arrol’s Drug Store in one of Charles Kuralt’s delightful “On the Road” books, and saw the story again last week, while skimming through the book. The short story is that after you drink 100 cups of coffee in this particular drug store (which gets your name on a waiting list) … you then qualify (someday) to get your name on an actual coffee cup (hand-painted by the proprietor) in the drug store. (With only 160 “named” mugs, I presume someone has to die for a new person to get a named mug.) Whether you need such a tangible reminder of the lifeblood that flows through you or not, it is a charming little local practice, don’t you think? A west coast variation on Ugly Mug Bar and Grill in Cape May, New Jersey, where sailor’s mugs point inland or out to sea to indicate whether you are still drinking coffee, or sleeping with the fishes.
Of course, there are some folks who need something like a coffee mug to tell them if they are alive. You know them as well as I do. People who go through life on auto-pilot; people who live life as a distraction; people who work exceptionally hard to hide from themselves; people who have no sense of who they are. These are people we often find ourselves praying for, because we sense their malaise. So what is the difference? What is the difference in perspective between these folks and you? No fair answering with the default children’s sermon answer of “Jesus.” Of course Jesus is the difference. But Jesus loves these folks, too. So, what’s the real difference?
As an attempt at an answer, why not give some of your prayer time this week in reflection about those things that God has placed in your life that make you who you are. What are the blessings, charisms, oddities, callings, or convictions that make you uniquely “you?” What do you do in using these blessings to add to your sense of identity? Understand, most of us don’t actively think about this process of living life. We just live it, because we find these blessings interesting and compelling. Or we engage them because they ignite a passionate experience within us. But this week, try taking a few moments to think about the pieces God has woven into the wondrous creation that is “you.” And understand that the glory of the unique creation that is you, has nothing to do with how well-known or reclusive you are, how strong or weak, how extraordinarily talented or how mundanely equipped. What makes you the glorious creature you are is that God’s mark is upon you, both through your Baptism, and through the unique pieces of personality and interests and passions that God has fashioned within you. In your prayers give thanks for that reality, even as you explore it.