“We are earth!” she says.
I’m standing in the local Starbucks, getting the stink-eye from the cashier. She doesn’t like me, this woman. She told me so. “I can’t stand people like you,” she had mumbled under her breath a few moments before.
“Please?” I try once more, looking at my cup. “You mean you don’t have any?”
“I’m trying to save the planet here, sir,” she answers. “We’re all in the circle of life. What happens to the earth happens to us, you know.”
Circle of life? I think. What is this, The Lion King?
“I thought you were just making me some coffee.”
“Well, I did,” she answers, scooting the cup toward me.
I’m beaten. I know this. Knew it the first time I asked her. And I deserved it, too. This is what I get for driving to Starbucks for a four dollar cup of coffee when I could have just made my own at home. But some days are just made for a venti caramel macchiato, regardless of the consequences.
My mistake was going out the door ignorant of the fact that it was Earth Day. Had I realized that, I would have definitely stayed at home. Because Earth Day is when many of the normally sane people you meet during the day turn crazy. Much like the lady behind the register at Starbucks.
And this whole thing began well enough. She smiled asked what I’d like, and I’d smiled and gave her my order. She smiled and made my coffee, and I smiled and said thank you.
But then I couldn’t find a sleeve to put over my cup.
“Excuse me,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to have any sleeves laying around back there, would you?”
“We’re requesting our customers not use sleeves,” she said. “Since it’s Earth Day and all.”
I failed to make the connection. “Why?” I asked.
“Because it’s better for the Earth.”
“It’s better for the Earth if I drink my coffee without a sleeve?”
“We’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint, sir. I’m sure you understand.”
“Sure,” I answered. “Absolutely.”
But then I tried picking up my coffee, which she had brewed to a temperature of about five thousand degrees. No way could I make it back to my truck without the plastic cup melting to my fingers.
So. It was either find a sleeve or stand there and wait for it to cool down.
“Ma’am,” I said. “You sure you don’t have a sleeve around here? This is pretty hot.”
“Sir, we’re really asking that you try and make due. It’s a little sacrifice to make for what we’ve done to our planet. I mean, let’s face it. The world would be better off without us around polluting it. A lot of our customers are bringing their own sleeves now.”
So now I have to bring my own sleeves to Starbucks? I already have to bring my own bags to the grocery store. Keep this up, and I’ll have to buy an even bigger SUV to haul everything around. What’ll they say then?
With little options available, I waited.
“Happy Earth Day, by the way,” she said, wiping down the counter in front of me. “I love Earth Day. It’s so…spiritual.”
“It is?” I asked her.
“Sure. You don’t think so?”
I tried picking up the cup again, then let go when I heard the sizzle on my fingers. “I guess it’s good. Important, maybe. But not spiritual.”
“But we’re all made to be spiritual creatures.”
“Then you should feel a spiritual connection with Earth.”
At which point came the “We are Earth” comment.
So here we are, her and I, together yet separated. And by more than a simple counter. By the way we see our world.
I agree with her in this way: we are all made to be spiritual creatures. Whether we choose to believe so or not. But her thoughts ended there. Mine went further.
More than merely spiritual, we are special. Part earth, yes. Also part divine. Blessed with a spark of God that we may either kindle into a burning inferno or a tiny ember. Put here so that we may know and love Him, that we may know and love others, and that we may be good stewards of his world.
I love Earth. Love its mountains and its seas. Love clean air and clear water. I reduce and reuse and recycle. Not to show my love for Mother Nature. To show my love for Father God.
This lady in front of me is wrong. We’re not a little lower than the earth.
We’re a little lower than the angels.
I touch my cup one more time. No sizzle.
“You’re right,” I tell her as I leave. “We are Earth. But we are also so much more.”