Tim Hortons’ leaky lids unite Canadians

Canadians are obsessed with a dream to be drip-free.

I chuckled when Maclean’s featured Tim Hortons’ notoriously leaky coffee cup lids. “This is inferior leakage containment and inferior mouth comfort” says one lid design expert. (March 7, 2011) My response: “Put a lid on the subject — who cares?”

The focus seemed trite and trivial nestled amidst the chaos and heartbreak sprinkled liberally throughout the rest of the magazine. There were snapshots of the devastation caused by New Zealand’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake with the headline ‘A nation faces its darkest day.’

Libya’s internal upheaval was summarized by the glaring indictment of Muammar Gadhafi – ‘A madman’s last stand.’ Highlighted in the back-page eulogy was the life, and shocking murder, of environmental activist Kimberley Blackwell.

Glancing at the overview, I found myself humming the Sesame Street anthem: “One of these things is not like the others.”

Despite their odd choice of topic, it soon became obvious that Maclean’s is actually in touch with Canuck-brand concerns. The story became the most-read article on their online website this year and merited a follow-up piece one week later.

Tim Hortons has accomplished what politicians north of the 49th only dream of — the discovery of a cause that inspires and unites citizens from coast to coast — a drip-free cause. No wonder we recently adopted a maple leaf tartan as an official symbol of Canada; the diverse shades of color remind us of coffee stains.

I suspect scientists will someday discover a gene that drives us to pursue a cause. We are innately drawn to lay down our lives for something and, in the absence of a grand purpose, will settle for smallness.

It’s why Jesus repeatedly emphasized, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:23-25)

The Great One was inviting us to pick up more than wood and slivers; it’s an invitation to take up His cause. His message of love, hope and ultimate salvation is trumpeted through human instruments, ordinary individuals inspired to extraordinary efforts by a cause that eclipses all others.

No wonder His followers have willingly devoted their lives to His purposes for thousands of years. After all, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)

I call it Tim Hortons’ theology — it tastes great and is impossible to contain.

Rod Barks is a Saskatchewan pastor and can be reached at highwaysconnect@hotmail.com