A traveling mug.

“I’ve got to get to work,” I said.

“Let me put the rest of your coffee in your travel mug,” Tim said.

I pulled it from the side pocket of my backpack. It’s the battered stainless cup that I’ve been using for years. I got it from a church insurance company at a conference. Road trips, commutes, hospital shifts, free refills.

TravelI handed it to Tim. Unlike most baristas, he didn’t grimace at the coffee stains on the inside. Instead, he filled it with hot water, dumped it, added what was left in my mug, and then topped it off with fresh coffee.

Your grandmother’s annual speech,” I said. “How did it make you feel inside?”

I asked because I start most years feeling a little beat up. Every email is an invitation to live your best year ever, or to make resolutions that won’t fail this time. I have the sense that I need to abandon everything in order to succeed. But I can’t. I have a life, and if I’m honest, most of it is good, and the parts that aren’t are from my choices.

“Refreshed,” Tim said. “It was like I held out the cup of my life and she blessed it. She saw the stains from the last year and allowed them to be learning, not failure. She warmed the cup with the kindness of her voice, the touch of her hands. And then she poured into the cup the words of a way of living that would sustain me. ‘Keep making those choices away from wastefulness and toward life. Take in the love, pour out the life.’”

Tim handed me my travel mug. “All set for the journey of today,” he said. “But there is always more here.”

“Medium bold?” I asked.

“That’s a good word for a year,” he said.


Tim’s grandmother was familiar with Psalm 1. It’s a good way to start a year.

2 thoughts on “A traveling mug.

  1. Gary Mintchell

    Do I sense another book? Love the conversations. I am deep into Proverbs to start the year. Psalm 1 is a perfect complement. Thanks for the reminder, he said as he sipped his medium bold coffee this morning.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Gary, it’s possible that there is a new project on the way. I’ve been reading your posts about Proverbs and thinking the same theming about the congruence between the two, particularly as a beginning of year recalibration. Keep writing.

      +++ Jon Swanson Helping people and organizations find sense at urgent and important times. Hospital Chaplain Resource Consultant for churches Research Consultant for organizations Adjunct professor and writer at 300wordsaday.com



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