I was raised in the Catholic church during a time when there were rituals galore. Vestments, candles, incense, the whispering silence of women and men on their knees with rosary beads laced between their wrinkled fingers, the soft musical cadence and rhythm of Latin words.
I’m amazed to realize how much all of this has influenced me over the decades since I was that little girl at the 9:15 mass, crinkly petticoat under my best dress, white lace head-covering attached with black bobby pins over my unruly curly hair, fidgeting…always fidgeting… next to my mom and big brother.
The celebrant raises hands high…bread, water and wine…bells ringing…Hosanna.
My morning communion begins.
I prepare my coffee in an old tarnished espresso maker that has been with me for years. I grind the beans in an electric grinder that, not surprisingly, came from a church rummage sale for fifty cents.
I fill the cup with cold water, lay a homemade paper towel filter over the fresh grounds and put the top on securely tightening it.
I pour fresh water in the tea kettle and placing both of them, the coffee maker and kettle, on the big burner on the black stove top, I listen, not for the whistle of the kettle, but for the sound of the steam and liquid erupting through the grounds.
While I wait, I light a candle…sometimes more than one…for my ancestors, for my children, for my beloveds, for me. Sometimes I light a stick of incense. Nag Chompa has been my favorite for decades.
My attention stays close to my stovetop…my altar. I wait for the bells and incense; the sound and smell of fresh coffee.
It starts slowly…the dark brown juice flowing over the rod standing upright in the center of the cup…a chalice filling with wine. I hear the soft hiss of steam. I take care to adjust the heat so the liquid does not sputter and burn. When the cup is full, the water in the kettle is ready as well.
I remove them both from the heat.
I take a mug, today the one my son gave me for Christmas some years ago, dark with a black and white yin/yang symbol, and fill it; equal parts water and brew.
I add some milk and sweetener and stir until the color has changed from nearly black to a rich burnt sienna. I have always loved that color in my box of Crayolas.
The heat of the mug warms me as I carry it to the couch and hold it between my open palms…like a prayer.
I bring my nose closer to the rim of the mug and inhale…hot, bitter, awakening…
I hear the bells.
This morning it feels like a sacrament to me…and these words…a litany.