I got up at 5 am on a Saturday, after working late the night before, and turned on the coffee pot. I needed to get to church asap. My sweet husband got me some non-dairy creamer. He bought the wrong kind. This one contained organic evaporated cane juice. I don’t like (or maybe should never, ever consume) sugar in my first cup of coffee.
Pope Francis asked parishes to do 24 hours with the Lord. People were to sign up to sit in the church for an hour of quiet adoration, prayer and meditation. I decided on 5:30 am. I love my church when its still dark. I wanted to be there at sunrise. I planned on a meaningful conversation with my Gram and my Dad, who passed away last year.
Well, so much for meaningful chit chat.
By the time I got settled in my pew, I was buzzing from caffeine, sugar, and whatever other evils were lurking in my non-organic Wegman’s brand espresso blend.
My brain and heart were racing!
I thought, “What if I were having coffee with Pope Francis, right now?” Well, we would be at the Vatican in Italy where the coffee is amazing and they do not use soy, coconut, or almond milk-substitutes for their coffee. It would be a delicious, small cup of espresso with real, full-fat steamed milk. And, you know I would spill whatever tiny, beautiful cup Vatican coffee is served in.
Pope Francis might say something like, “Tell me what’s on your mind, my child.” I would have to confess, “Well, I’m kind of freaked out because I had sugar this morning. I don’t do sugar. I had cheese three times in the last 24 hours. I don’t do dairy and I’m a little concerned about my digestive tract. To top it off, I had real pizza crust, full of wheat, gluten, and apparently terrible things but it was really, really good.”
Then, I would feel really weird and self-absorbed and think, “He’s probably thinking, ‘Really, that’s what you want to talk about? Food agony?'”
No, he wouldn’t say that. He is so compassionate. He might tell me to think about the Last Supper. What if the apostles said things such as:
“I can’t eat that bread. I’m gluten-free.”
“Are these grapes organic?”
“Is this wine made locally?”
“Are there any chicken livers around? I need some protein other than cheese. I’m dairy-free.”
“ARE THOSE NUTS?!!!! ON THE TABLE???!!!!”
That dinner might have gone a little different if everyone was more concerned with the food than the company.
While I sat in my pew watching others seem so prayerful, I continued thinking about food. Maybe all this food agony is a metaphor for our lives. Maybe our questioning every ingredient has a deeper meaning. In my imagination, Pope Francis might ask me: “What if we consumed less fear, worry, and processed everything like reality shows and technology? What if we ingested more love, compassion, goodness, prayer, and empathy? Imagine how nice and peaceful it would be to appreciate that God has given us everything we need. Imagine eating good, quality food at a supper with friends and enjoying every bite?”
It wasn’t too long until the sun started coming in through the church’s stained glass windows. This was not the chat with Gram and Dad I had planned for this morning. But, it did change my mind from a place of fear of food and all I had consumed in the prior 24 hours to love and appreciation. Love of pizza with co-workers. Love of goat cheese-topped salad with a colleague. Appreciation of my husband for buying me milk. I left feeling peaceful and ready for a good breakfast with my family.
The experience made room for my real questions, which have nothing to do with food. If I could sit and have coffee with Pope Francis, I would tell him that when I get to the pearly gates that I’m asking God the following:
Who killed JFK and RFK–full stories, no details left out? Did we really land on the moon?
What could you eat today with pleasure? Leave me a note in the comments.