Grinding the Beans… Enormous Smallness

I love coffee. I drink too much of it, but I LOVE a good cup of coffee. Every morning I wake up and pour 6 small scoops of whole coffee beans into a $2 coffee grinder we bought from Goodwill nearly a decade ago. I then grind those beans until they are a fluffy, light, beautiful brown dirt-like texture.

When you grind your coffee beans fresh, the coffee tastes better. That isn’t just my opinion, it’s science. When you use freshly ground beans there are many benefits that literally make the coffee taste better (click here if you are curious).

I know, because I’ve tasted the difference, that freshly ground beans make coffee better. Still, I don’t always like doing it. When it’s early in the morning, everyone is still sleeping and I just want a cup of coffee, I don’t always want to go through all the hassle (even if it is just a few minutes). A quick Keurig would be so much easier.

Bishop Ken Carter has used the metaphor of grinding the beans on multiple occasions. He has written about how a life of faith is sort of like grinding the coffee beans each morning. Even when I don’t want to, even when I don’t feel like it (maybe especially when I don’t feel like it), putting in the time matters. Acting with “enormous smallness1” each and every day draws us closer — closer to God, to each other, to creation, to the air we breathe, to the ground we walk on…

I know that just because you “put in the work” or show up authentically and fully each day to the life you live does NOT guarantee that everything will go well. Unfortunately, one of the truths about being human is that there is no cure for it!2 Nevertheless, when we grind the beans each day, when we read good books (maybe even the Bible?), when we gather with friends and family, when we act with love and compassion, when we pray3 or do anything with intention, humility and hope, it makes all the difference.

So whether or not you feel like it, grind the beans today. Then get up and do it again tomorrow and the next day. I’ll be honest with you: I haven’t been great at grinding the spiritual beans of my life lately. And I’ve noticed the difference in taste. But, here I am again. Grinding away. The beans haven’t gone anywhere.

I know it’s a small first step, but a first step is all we have sometimes. So take it. You’ll notice the difference right away!

This is why you must put your whole heart into uniting trust with goodness, goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-discipline. Unite self-discipline with never giving up, and never giving up with walking in a sacred way. Unite walking in a sacred way with family kindness, and family kindness with love. For if you are growing in these things, they will keep you spiritually strong and fruitful in the true knowledge of [God], Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:5-8, FNV

  1. “Enormous Smallness” is a book by Matthew Burgess about the life of E. E. Cummings who lived an enormous life by embracing the smallness and beauty of all that is right here with us.
  2. “No Cure For Being Human” is a FANTASTIC book by Kate Bowler that you should read. Right now.
  3. Sorry for all the footnotes today… A fantastic book for the skeptic of prayer is “Help, Thanks, Wow: The three essential prayers” by Anne Lammott.

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