Lukewarm Coffee

Packing for our move, I discovered that my family members are hoarders. I’ve been sworn to secrecy and shan’t go into detail. Suffice to say, that by the time I was done going through our kitchen, I could have filled a small dumpster. Unfortunately, you can’t cure a hoarder just by throwing their stuff away. There will always be a newer, shinier obsession.

The temporary, pre-furnished apartment that we lived in for the first few weeks of our move was very sparse. Wanting to add a homey touch, Mama started collecting glass yogurt jars. Before long the cabinet was overflowing with them. Very delicately, I brought up the subject, “Mama, why are we hoarding yogurt jars?” I asked.

She tried to convince me that it was for me, the child who is allergic to dairy. “You can use them as paint pots!” she beamed, “they’re so cute!”

I blinked. “We’re HOARDERS” I wailed, wondering if I should pray to a higher power.

On that note, I’ve been thinking a lot about my religion lately, trying to be more religious in fact. Most weeks, I make the trip over to Chabad for Shabbat, but having never gone to Hebrew school, I find it very difficult to follow along with the prayers. During the service, I pretend to read the book only to realize that I’m on the wrong page.

Last Friday, I stayed home. My family even almost had a real Shabbat dinner, except Mama didn’t want to look up the prayer for lighting the candles.

“I’m just gonna say, we welcome Shabbat into this home” She informed us.

A light bulb went off in my head. Suddenly, everything made sense. “Oh my gosh! We’re reform,” I announced.

Mama frowned. “First we’re hoarders and now we’re reform? What’s next?” she demanded.

So I think about religion, and what it all means. I come to the conclusion that while I don’t really know anything, I did unintentionally listen to all those preachers at Yonge and Dundas square in Toronto. Dressed in their sandwich boards, and yelling into megaphones, they’re awfully hard to ignore.

One stood out to me in particular. He was younger than all the rest and I couldn’t help but think that if he lost the sandwich board, he’d clean up quite nice. Really nice in fact. But then he opened his mouth and I realized that there would be no cleaning up; that sandwich board ran deep.

“Who here likes lukewarm coffee?” he demanded, “That’s right no one! No one likes lukewarm coffee. You only want hot coffee or cold coffee….Just like Jesus. Jesus doesn’t like lukewarm coffee, but you people,”he slowly glared at the group of tired commuters waiting for the streetcar, “are all lukewarm coffee, lukewarm Christians, and Jesus…doesn’t…like…YOU.”

I smirked. It was December and I was both literally and figuratively stone cold.

“Lukewarm coffees,” he shook his head, “you will become the devil’s cat food. Yes, the devil is a lion. That’s a very big cat.”

My jaw dropped a little.

A homeless man stared him down. The young preacher screeched, “You sir are the devil’s cat food!”

The homeless man gave a gap toothed grin, amused.

“You sir are the devil’s cat food!” The preacher repeated, pointing. I couldn’t help but think that it was a little uncharitable. After all, it’s not necessarily the homeless man’s fault that he’s homeless.

Suddenly his sense of charity kicked in. “We must all pray for this man because he is the devil’s cat food.”

My mind  jumped back to hoarders. The other day a different preacher quoted the book of Luke 12:15, stating “And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” I noted that the homeless man being homeless had very few possessions and perhaps the sinner in this situation was the preacher. After all, I don’t think sandwich boards are considered necessary possessions.

My streetcar came and I climbed on board. Out the window I saw the homeless man taunting the preacher. I didn’t blame him, but I did start thinking about my religion.

Does God like lukewarm Jews? And does he tolerate hoarders? Or is it asking too much for my family’s redemption as well?


Photo Credits: Frankie Photography on Unsplash