Write In Between

Friday, June 27, 2008

Biscotti in Bed

This morning, as I write this, I am eating biscotti in bed. Close at hand is my warm mug of hazelnut-crème-flavored coffee. Hubby is already at work and summer’s pace still has the teenagers sleeping in. I am hiding out from my fears for a little while as I contemplate my forthcoming hip-replacement surgery only days away. Call it escapism or denial, but for me, little moments like this do a lot to bolster my immune system.

I bought the biscotti yesterday from a feisty apron-clad lady at the local Italian bakery. She warned me that the biscotti are very hard. “Sometimes people complain to me about it—but I try to lovingly explain that ‘biscotti’ means twice-baked.” I nod knowingly, given my love of European cafés and penchant for these intentionally hard and crusty biscuits. She continued, “It’s made to be dipped in your coffee or espresso.” I always do that… but I smiled under her tutelage, knowing that Americanized mass-produced biscotti cannot compare with her Old World-recipe.

This is probably a good time to mention that, this past year, as I finished my graduate studies in theology, I rekindled an old love affair with coffee—drinking about a pot a day—indeed, it would be accurate to say that prayer and coffee got my middle-aged brain through my final year. But these days, for health reasons, I’m weaning back to one or two cups a day. I say this so you'll perhaps better appreciate the significance of this little interlude between my morning java and my crisp Italian treat.

Today, I anticipated this delectable moment as I was lured into the kitchen by the aroma of the freshly brewed pot. I chose my favorite cup, wrapped a napkin around my portion of biscotti, and retreated to the quiet of my bedroom to read, write, and pray. As I mentioned, stress about my surgery has been mounting; here in my bed, I asked God to help me. I no sooner bit down on the homemade biscotti when I realized that God wanted me not only to savor this, but He intended to teach me something powerful using things I could easily understand.

Let’s get real here: If coffee could be compared to God, we might compare the biscotti to, well, me and my life right now and my need for daily prayer. My worries and fears are making my life hard right now—even though I love my life, and I wouldn't trade it. For me, dealing with health issues is hard, and hard-to-swallow at times. It would be accurate to say that I’m feeling a little hard and crusty on the outside right now, even though so many other things in my life, on the inside, are going well.

Okay, you can probably see the lesson in all of this: I can only enjoy my biscotti slowly, and patiently, consuming it bit by bit as I immerse it in my coffee. The coffee must soak and penetrate the biscuit so that it can be softer to swallow. In the same way, my worries--and more importantly, my life--need to be immersed and permeated by God’s strong brew of grace, wisdom, and peace. Then, what is hard—what is seemingly difficult to swallow on its own—becomes saturated with what I truly love—and reduced to manageable, even tasty, bite-sized morsels.

Sometimes I expect God to overwhelm me with something profound. But most often, he speaks with amazing simplicity, like a conversation over morning coffee...

Like the words I find in the Psalm 16... for a gal facing surgery, these words are simple, direct, and understandably real...

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord: I have no good apart from thee."

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
(Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-9. RSV)

God loves me so much that He used something as simple as a slice of biscotti to allow me to see, smell, taste, and feel his love this morning. He is my portion and cup. He is holding fast to my lot. And all I had to do was wake up and smell the coffee.

© 2008 Patricia W. Gohn

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