Let me back up.
Last night we went to bed a little miffed with each other. I won’t go into details because they aren’t important, but like most little tiffs, and even some big ones, it was over the silliest thing. You know how it goes…he said that, I reacted and said this, we both “harumphed”, turned our backs, and went to sleep.
I got up at 5:30 and worked out, and then went about my daily routine. I make us both a cup of coffee, deliver his to him in bed and then I get in the shower. After my shower when Rick hears the blow dryer stop he gets up and makes my breakfast, usually 2 eggs over medium, 1/3 cup oatmeal with butter and real maple syrup, sometimes bacon if there’s time. Then, it’s off to work.
So, I was a little taken aback when he reminded me that I’d been mad at him last night and he thought I wouldn’t bring him his coffee! First of all, I’d forgotten our little tiff, and even had to think for a moment what it had been over. Second, even if I had remembered, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to not make his coffee.
Rick and I serve each other.
I serve him and he serves me.
There were years that felt like I did more giving than he did, but the past couple years have turned the tables and it seems lopsided the other way. Rick does so much for me that makes my life easier and fuller and richer, that the simple task of making him his first cup of coffee in the morning seems but a meager offering. Making Rick a cup of coffee before he gets up is not conditional or dependent on whether we are in a good place or not. It makes no difference if we go to bed mad, glad, sad, happy, or silly.
It’s a discipline, this serving one another. I admit I sometimes don’t feel like it. And I’m sure he often doesn’t feel like getting up and making my breakfast, not to mention packing my lunch and usually having dinner ready for me when I get home. Sometimes it’s just going through the motions.
But it’s in the motion, in that state of “going through the motions” that love enters back in, that commitment to another person rises up and says,
“I’m yours and you are mine”…
…and I’ll make your coffee in the morning, even if I’m mad at you, or you’re mad at me.
“Whatever one of us asked the other to do – it was assumed the asker would weigh all the consequences – the other would do. Thus one might wake the other in the night and ask for a cup of water; and the other would peacefully (and sleepily) fetch it. We, in fact, defined courtesy as ‘a cup of water in the night’. And we considered it a very great courtesy to ask for the cup as well as to fetch it.”
― Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy