An invitation into the Sweet Oneness of God
HEATHER LEE (WHITE LIKE CREAM)
I like my coffee black.
My friend Joseph is black—as black as I like my coffee. I like that Joe Jackson even sounds black, doesn’t he? The Reverend Joe Jackson. Joseph Jackson is a black Baptist preacher—although he and I don’t like titles too much. Joe Jackson is Joe Jackson.
Joe Jackson drinks his coffee with cream.
His wife is always teasing him that he seems to be the black coffee getting added to all that white cream in this world. I guess she’s talking about people like me. I’m a quiet, white hippie-girl—a contemplative spiritual guide and all kinds of other titles that I already mentioned Joe and I stay away from.
It may sound funny, but coffee is a big part of both my relationship with God and Joe’s relationship with God. We both have a discipline and a love of prayer at dawn—a time to meditate, be in silence, be with the word, and be with what Joe Jackson calls, the sweet aroma of God. Can’t pray without coffee, can you–that steaming hot cup that fits in my praying hands–the deep breath that draws the warmth, comfort—that fragrance of my time with God–into my being—that sweet, sweet aroma of time with God? It is settled then. I can’t pray in the morning without my cup of coffee, black.
JOSEPH JACKSON (BLACK LIKE COFFEE)
In my coffee, a little cream and sugar are a must.
I guess it may be a good metaphor for blended relationships–like my relationship with Heather. That coffee with cream and sugar invites me every morning, like Heather says, into “sweet oneness of God,” I, Joseph, am black. Heather, my friend, she is white. A sweet relationship has and is developing between the two of us—one I know has something to do with our trust in and experience of the oneness of God.
Mine and Heather’s relationship started when Heather was facilitating a day of reflection at a monastery that we are both connected to as Benedictine oblates. I had been searching for a spiritual guide, and that day, as I sat still in the light, which were words of a poem she shared, I sensed the leading of the Holy Spirit. My intention was to seek a person of color. I grew up in a black community, a black church, and black schools, but, in me, was always the desire and propensity for diversity, for coffee with cream. The Holy Spirit didn’t want that longing to get lost in the mix.
So here I sit now—still in the light—with my cup of coffee with cream and sugar—building the relationship of black and white, directee and director, black Baptist preacher and the contemplative spiritual guide (white hippie girl). God seems to be asking us to blend or combine our thoughts, not only for ourselves, but for you.
Joe and I both like the addition of just a bit of sugar. We laughed and laughed at the metaphor of Coffee with Cream and Sugar, and have been inviting our sweet relationship with God to show us how this metaphor might be of service to this noisy, divided, beautifully messy world we are both living in.
You know, when you add cream to coffee, it really is something new. You can’t separate the black from the white—it becomes unified. And, when you add some sugar—well, then you just have something special—the sweet oneness of God.
God as sweetener. That is a nice image. What are those things that sweeten the spiritual relationship between us that makes it something special—something we think may be worth sharing? We have come up with a list, of sweeteners.
1. We share a love of the contemplative life—of the sweet, sweet, silence of the voice of God.
2. We have been formed together as Benedictine oblates—brother and sister in the ecumenical community that is the Holy Wisdom Monastery. Oblates are crazy enough or hopeful enough or simply called deeply to believe that we can live a monastic way, grounded in our own personal Benedictine rules of life, in a non-cloistered, active city life. Sweet Jesus, is it possible?
3. We love Scripture, and it weaves anciently through each of our stories and experiences always bearing new fruit to harvest.
4. We love the profound beauty, mystery, and revelation of God in all of creation.
5. We are ministers-male and female, black and white, ordained and laity, in one of the most segregated cities in the US—with a longing to ground justice work in a contemplative center. We love our city. We love our neighborhoods.
6. We love to hide in sacred spaces to explore in the written, spoken, and sung word.
Coffee with Cream and Sugar has been calling to us by so many titles—pulling us into spiritual friendship and conversation—asking us for time in contemplative spaces to listen together to the voice of God and wonder how it is that we often have the same song singing in our heads–wonder how our individual ministries, when brought together-Black and White-with the sweetener of the Divine love in our midst—become something special for the world—something that may draw others into exploring those unifying and transforming sugars like the contemplative life, silence, the discipline of a personal rule, Scripture, the earth, poetry, preaching, and song.
Our hope is that the series of writings in this book, where the sweetness of God joins the coffee and the cream and offers you a taste of being hidden in the sweet oneness of God. We invite you in as we share our thoughts in prayer, poems, and prose.
Perhaps you will join us in your own quiet time with a cup of hot coffee, with or without cream, and enjoy the sweet aroma of God. Center down. Linger with the themes and titles. Even take pen to paper and journal your own thoughts along with ours.
We offer you a taste of contemplation, conversation, coffee, and cornbread.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is indescribably delicious!