courage, dear heart

2018: I set my Nalgene and books on a table by the window, claiming my seat. The windows of Peak Place Coffeehouse look right across the valleyed city towards the mountain; view well suited to name.

“Iced coffee with cream, please.” I tip fifty cents, exchange my greetings with the barista; we know each other.

Something prompts me to record the moment. I hold my camera up, trying to capture the beautiful mountain logo next to my coffee. My usual coffee; my usual tip; my usual seat. I don’t often photograph what I’m eating or drinking, no matter how aesthetic, but the moment seemed stirred with significance. I remember.

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2015: I have worked at this new bank for two weeks; maybe my discomfort and weariness is foreshadowing as well as adjustment. Every moment of work is a tense one, it seems to me. I come in early for a meeting, and leave to get coffee nearby during the hour before my shift. The keyed up nerves from work encroach on my sleep. However early I begin my day, I am already tired from worry the night before. I photograph my coffee, feeling my anonymity in the city with every patron’s glance that does not turn my way.

I put the photograph on Instagram – is it the only place people know me now? – and caption it desperately “That morning. That weariness. So: Courage, Dear Heart.”

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2018: I sit with this creamy coffee and savor the stillness inside. There is no desperate murmuring of courage quotes, no clinging to hopeful phrases in the wish that they penetrate my skin. I am full of hope. Courage is my quiet constant anthem. I have come through, I marvel softly. I have come through those years to life and life abundant.

Coffee drunk for hope tastes of temporary sweetness, part-time courage. Coffee drunk in triumph plays the tang against the cream and all that is sweet is sweeter still in victory. Have I ever had such good coffee?

Have hope. Your breaking heart was meant to be whole and God writes stories that put the pieces back together. Maybe it will be these three years of trying before you remember who you are but don’t you give up, darling.

Don’t you ever give up.

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