Many communities offer a “meet and greet” with police officers and citizens at a local diner or coffee shop for a no pressure, no commitment, very casual chat to strengthen ties and understanding between the two groups. It’s called ”Coffee with a Cop,” though often there is not even coffee! I thought how similar the concept was when I attended a Eucharistic Adoration at my parish, the Church of the Holy Spirit.
I enter the church and kneel in the back pew while eyeing the Holy Eucharist in the monstrance on the altar. I have come to spend time with the Lord but almost immediately my mind wanders. Distracted already, I scan the front and side pews and guess that about ten people are there. I jerk myself to attention and ask the Lord to forgive me for my sins, to take care of my family, my friends and all the loved ones who have died and I’ve forgotten to pray for lately. Oh wait Lord! I forgot to thank you first for all the blessings of my life! My faith, my family, my health, for all the answered prayers! I don’t want to be like the nine lepers who never came back to thank you!
Now I sit back and think that the pews should be cushioned. I look around and actually count the people. Eight, but more are coming in. I wonder how long I’ll stay. What did Jesus say to his followers? “Can you not watch with me one hour?” I think I cannot sit for a whole hour. I have things to do and this pew hurts my back. Okay, I tell myself, I’ll stay just a bit, maybe fifteen minutes so I don’t look like I don’t care that the Lord is actually there, on the altar, in the church, I sit in. But I’m still not settled. I kneel again and say the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. I think of how I pray all day and wonder if He is tired of hearing from me.
On the way to work, “Lord protect me and my family from harm and catastrophe on the roads and don’t let us hurt anyone else. Please be in my mind, my heart and my hands as I care for my patients today.”
When I arrive at work, as I work on difficult cases I pray again. Lord give me patience and wisdom right now because I need it.
Help me get this I.V. needle into this terrified child on the first try. Help me to console this daughter whose father won’t survive the hour. The wife arriving because the police have told her that her husband has been in a car crash and is horribly injured. The homeless, unkempt, emaciated man arriving unresponsive from an opiate overdose. “What you do for the least of my brethren you do unto me.” And so it goes all day long. Later I thank God for a day I was able to help and do no harm.
Back home I pray for guidance, patience with my family and less worry…much less worry! Then at night, more prayers. So I wonder if God is tired of me asking for so much, every day, every afternoon, every night, nearly every minute.
Now, still in the pew, I sit back again. Then barely without noticing, I start a very leisurely conversation with the Lord. I’m not rushing to work wondering how many sick I will be faced with in the Emergency Room. I’m not driving home saying thank you Lord and I have to stop to buy bread, eggs and what was that other thing I needed? I’m not trying to go to sleep exhausted from the day, hoping I’ll stay awake long enough to finish my night prayers. This is when it happens. Without noticing why or how, I am comfortable and deeply entrenched in a thoughtful and all-encompassing chat with my God. And now I feel I could sit there forever.
Later, I don’t know how long I’ve been there, but suddenly I know I got what I came for. I’m thinking of chores again and slowly get up to leave, knowing, somehow just knowing, it’s time. I don’t know when or how it happened, but I’m feeling satisfied, peaceful and full of God’s grace.
It’s my “Coffee with God.”
Patricia Agostino is a parishioner of Church of the Holy Spirit in Stamford.