Drinking from Life’s Saucer: A Lesson from “Old People”

When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to do all sorts of things my brothers and I thought were funny. Not the “funny ha, ha” type, but rather the “funny strange,” variety (or at least they were to young children.) We never really knew why he did them, and we just wrote them off to “strange things old people do.”

One of those strange things involved his beloved cup of coffee. A staunch German with the tenacity of a WWI fighter pilot and the grit of a farmer during the Great Depression, (both part of his history), he knew how to enjoy the simple things in life; things like a piping hot cup of coffee, brewed in a percolator on the gas stove. After my grandmother had set the China cup and saucer down in front of him, my grandfather would add his traditional splash of cream and two lumps of sugar, stir it up well, and then, like clockwork, pour some of it from the cup into the saucer. A few minutes later this would be followed by more than just a little slurping as he proceeded to slowly savor the entire cup of coffee, saucer-full by saucer-full. “Weird,” we thought. “It must be too hot for him. Why else would he drink it like that? Why doesn’t he just wait for it to cool down in his cup?” And, yes, looking back, maybe it was because it would cool faster, little by little in the saucer rather that all of it in the cup. Or maybe, just maybe, he knew something about life that we didn’t. Something that “old people” are much better at seeing than their younger counterparts: something past the running around all day completing this, starting that, trying to please this person or that one, meeting deadlines . . . never slowing down enough to enjoy the little things in life, the blessings — the things only seen when one takes the time to mindfully sip coffee from a saucer, savoring each drop.

During the past year as I’ve navigated the grief of my husband’s death, I have come to realize just how precious all of those little, “drinking from the saucer of life” moments are: the taking life in slow, small sips rather than fast, large gulps; the slowing down to really see all of the way my cup of blessing has overflowed into my saucer. I’ve made it my new life mission to do a better job of noticing more of these little things in life — because in losing my husband, I’ve seen just how important they really are. I’ve come to realize that it’s those little things that will eventually help move me forward and heal. Little things, like being thankful for the gift of falling asleep each night in my warm, cozy bed, wrapped snuggly in the safety and security of my home; the laughter of my grandchildren when we are together; the car I drive; the food security that is mine; my health; my faith; my family; my friends; breathing, walking, thinking. . . the list goes on and on. And the biggest blessing of all?– I am still here. I have life to live and a difference to make in the world. Perhaps that difference is just a small thing that no one but me will notice. But that is OK, because that is exactly what “drinking from the saucer of life” is all about: taking time to thank God for all of our blessings and to truly enjoy this one precious life we are given, while, at the same time, giving back to others from the abundance we have been blessed with.

Have you sipped slowly from the saucer of life lately, or do you swallow life in big gulps, not taking time to savor the sweetness of it? We would all do well to take a page from my grandfather’s book and drink from our saucers . . . I am willing to bet that you, like me, will find that your cup has, indeed, overflowed, and your saucer is full. And so, my friends, are our lives.

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