By Irene Sorensen
On one cold morning, some years ago, I needed to take my car to a body shop for routine maintenance. As was quite normal for me, I was up at 5:30 in the morning, cramming in a list of tasks before school: morning prayer and silence, breakfast, assembling my kids’ lunch boxes, waking all five kids, making sure they were ready to leave the house on time, and dropping them off at school. After all this, I arrived at the body shop.
I really needed another cup of coffee.
I asked the owner of the shop if there was a place for coffee nearby. He said no. Then he added: “You know, I used to have a coffee maker here. I would make coffee. Everybody would get their cup, but nobody ever cleaned it or made fresh coffee. I was the only one doing it. Finally I said ‘the hell with it; no coffee for anybody from now on!’"
Fair enough—I thought to myself.
Then I drove to Brookewood. Every morning I would arrive at school quite early (that day was an exception). After my intense morning routine, I would walk into the teacher lounge carrying big bags of books for my many classes. My dear friend and colleague Tim Nauman was always there, the first to arrive after an early commute (he drove more than hour from Bowie). He would greet me with a smile. I would greet him back. In order to move to phase 2 in the morning routine—teaching—I needed a new cup of coffee. But that meant that I had to clean the coffee maker, take the carafe to the bathroom down the school corridor, fill it, then go back to the teacher room and get the coffee going.
One morning I must have said something to Tim, like,"I wish coffee would magically make itself upon my arrival at school.” Well, sure enough, starting the following day, I found the coffee maker clean and filled, and the coffee was ready to brew. From then on, the coffee was ready every morning upon my arrival. Tim had never missed one day.
So, when the owner of the car shop told me his sad story, I thought "Fair enough. But isn't Tim's way much better, more human, more corresponding to our human heart? Isn't love a greater, more joyful way to treat people than fairness? Tim had heard my desire and was happy to do the work for me. He never got the favor back from having me making coffee for him (he didn't drink coffee during the day). He was just happy to make me happy, to give me some joy.
This is our Christian way of living, by loving one another, in the details of our little lives.
Tim was great at that—always attentive, caring. Always ready to help and give.
Tim went to heaven on Aug 25, 2014. He left a great hole in my heart. I still miss him so much. And so do my daughters (3 students of Tim; they still talk about his influence in their lives). For many days, after his departure, I would enter the teacher lounge to find the coffee maker dirty and the coffee not ready. The view of that would renew the loss of him over and over again.
But Tim is still alive and he intercedes for me, for my kids, for Brookewood and Avalon. I pray for him and to him every day. His presence has changed Brookewood.
And what about coffee? One morning I said out loud that not finding the coffee ready to go in the morning was a constant reminder of him and of how much I missed him. Well, on the following day, I found the coffee maker ready to brew! It took me quite some time to figure out who did that for me! I am so grateful to my colleague for doing that. And for continuing Tim's way of caring. Those Keurig cups might make our teacher's lives easier, but they can't substitute Tim’s—and Andrea’s—love.