Cartel and Cold Water


In the Phoenix airport is Earth Spirit, a shop that sells robots and clocks made of coffee cans. There’s vivid ceramic ware, richly colored glass art, and my favorite line of cards – StoryPeople by Brian Andreas. They’re the only cards I buy for myself.

When I step off the plane at gate C3, I smell Cartel Coffee Lab. This is good, because I’m running on 3 hours of sleep. Flying home Saturday and leaving Sunday means I stay awake until my last drop of energy evaporates. I can sleep when I’m back at the hotel and don’t have Richard’s chest to lean on. It’s 8am, and I have one more flight before I crush that cool Marriott pillow with my face.

Cartel isn’t like the coffee shops I frequent. Here, the steaming cup is crafted. The barista wraps paper into a cone and measures out the beans. Slowly, he pours cold water over them. This releases the bitterness, he tells me. Once the cold has done its job, he brews a hot, military-strong cup for me. I should have added cream and sugar, but the coffee has inspired me. I’m going to be strong, too. The process took several minutes, so I stride swiftly to my next gate, wafting steam and power at the people I pass. I’m wide awake before my first sip.

That was several months ago, but the experience returned to me today. I called a friend from work to pray over our upcoming week. We’ve both had an unusually hectic year, and we asked God to give us peace and refocus us when our nerves try to short-circuit. She wished she knew what people were saying about her and who she could trust. I wished I had more assistance and more time. We reminded each other that we are eternal and these situations are not. We are responsible for doing our best work, and God will handle the people and discussions outside our scope. If we concern ourselves with others, we live with unnecessary worry and dilute the strength we devote to our tasks. As we prayed, I strode through my house wafting power stronger than that Cartel cup. Later this evening, I listened as another friend described a situation that arose at home while she was traveling. The situation had been a let-down and very frustrating, but she recognized she couldn’t fix it from the road, and dwelling on it would only ruin her trip. She chose to focus on the cotton fields she passed on her way to the beach.

You and I are artisans. Sometimes hot water is inevitable. The behavior of others affects our lives, flavors our efforts. Knowing this is coming can make us tense and ready to release nasty into the brew, but we are artisans. We have the power to control our output, to pour the cold water of common sense over our situations. We can use a steady hand, mimic the Expert, and generate a result that is fragrant, powerful and worth waiting for.

When I think of craftsmanship, I remember the verse I had to write 30 times for my 4th grade teacher. Poor Mrs. Pate, she was trying to get 30 minutes of silence from me. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

This week, whatever comes up, I pray God helps you remain focused on the work He’s given you. I pray you pour trust and truth over each situation so the bitterness is released and the power remains.



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