Here I sit inside a Starbuck’s Coffee Café in the middle of a bustling business district of a major city. Outside the first snow of the season is falling lightly enough to allow the streets to remain clear while densely enough to create a Norman Rockwell scene. Big-city-Starbuck’s and days-gone-by-Rockwell in the same thought – what a world of contrasts!
I have my laptop open writing this article while drinking a cup of coffee. Did I say coffee? I meant a triple shot grandé white chocolate mocha americana. I ordered it like a veteran yuppie and paid for it by swiping my in-store gift card. No one seemed to notice my polyester pants instead of the latest fashion designer jeans. They assumed that I was part of the ‘happening’ thing because I could spout the Starbuck’s rhetoric. Yep – that’s me – a thoroughly modern grandma blending the style of my day with the vogue of today – did I mention that it is a world of contrasts?
To further emphasize my awareness of disparity is my all-too-vivid memory of this last week. Four of my grandchildren moved into my house while their mom and dad were on a trip. For the duration of their stay, I was thrust back into yester-year. I remembered the caregiver, child-raiser, nurturer role. After all, I raised five children of my own. Cooking, bathing, entertaining, and refereeing – ah yes, it all returned to me. Sounds of girlish giggling, glimpses of flying balls, sights of strewn toys – yesterday’s glories revisited today. Definitely satisfying! Immensely familiar! Very customary!
Now today, the grandchildren are back home with their folks and me? . . . . Well, I am planning a immanent mission’s trip to Costa Rica. Soon I will board an aircraft to spend a week with people hardly know who speak in a language I cannot understand. My world will rapidly move from familiar to new, from traditional to foreign, from customary to unknown – have I mentioned anything about contrasts?
Scripture teaches that a wise man is both a teacher and a student (Matthew 13:52). He is a teacher because he has mastered the past and has, thus, amassed resources of knowledge and experience. However, he is also a pupil, always studying the present to accrue more assets. From his treasures of both old and new, the wise man views his world, understands the current age, and makes wise decisions for himself and his household.
The contrasts and incongruities in our lives force us to become students. We must study, read, and learn. Then we must embrace, apply, and adapt. That isn’t always easy. I must admit that my first few trips to the new, improved coffee counter found me ordering a small cup of just regular coffee, which was the sum total of my past coffee knowledge. The new day’s menu intimidated me, as did the customers in line before me who had conquered the new jargon. Then, I decided I was willing to reveal that I was unlearned. I could show my ignorance. I could present myself as a student. So I asked. I taste tested. I learned. Triple shot grandé white chocolate mocha americana – how wise do I sound now?
Coffee conquered – give me Costa Rica! Whether the contrasts in my life come in the form of new drinks, new nations, new technologies, or even new thoughts, scripture promises me that a storehouse of both old and new treasures await me if I will revere the familiar and welcome the new.