Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Cups of Coffee

 “Friendship is an unpretentious relationship, for ‘friend’ is not an official term, not a title of honour, nor a function. It is a personal designation. Friendship unites affection with respect. There is no need to bow down before a friend. We can look him in the eye. We  neither look up to him nor down on him.”

Jurgen Moltmann
German Lutheran pastor and theologian

If I could change one thing…
A wistful line that makes me think of the old genie in the bottle granting wishes…. If I could change one thing…..I would change our perception of what is truly important in our lives and the preciousness of time.  In my early twenties, my mother, who was my only parent and my best friend, was diagnosed with cancer, a terminal prognosis.  Time immediately became my enemy because I knew her time was limited.  Through the treatments, the trauma and all of life’s everyday dramas, I would become lost in the chaos that engulfs one’s life. Yet through it all, when I would become overwhelmed and would lose perspective of what was truly important, my mother would always say to me, mayonnaise and coffee, honey, mayonnaise and coffee.    
You see, my mother, like every mother, had an arsenal of monologues, analogies and even fairy tales to bestow maternal wisdom on her children. Her wisdom for the important things in life and the preciousness of time oddly enough is the story of the Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee. I would like to share the story with you so when things in your life seem too much to handle, when 24hrs in a day are not enough, you too can remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes".

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions--and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full”.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you”.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked”.

"It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

 “Christianity has taught us to care. Caring is the greatest thing. Caring matters most.”

Friedrich von Hugel
English Roman Catholic philosopher

Victoria Davenport, 
Senior Administrative Assistant