Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the sanctuary of coffee shops

 "The miracle is that we are here, 
that no matter how undone we've been the night before, 
we wake up every morning and are still here. 
It is phenomenal just to be." 
~ Anne Lamott

Yesterday I spent in solitude, from early morning until early morning the next day.  It wasn't what I wanted, but I've been sick and my husband needed to work much later than we had planned, and so the day slipped away and I waited out the hours until he came home. 

I nearly came undone in the waiting.  Then morning eventually came, as it always has, and I said goodbye to him again.

He was off again, and I dreaded another stretch of hours alone. This, from an introvert who generally has no qualms about alone time. But there are different types of alone time, ones that add to the fullness of an already full life, and ones that stretch long and slow before, accentuating the emptiness of the hours. So, after spending some time sitting on the couch with my breakfast and bible this morning, talking with God, I decided to take church to the cafe in our neighborhood.

I found my spot in a nook beside the espresso machine, the large windows before me like eyes wide open, taking in the rain dripping from green striped awning and canopy of tangled tree branches.  Cars driving to and fro with windshield wipers swishing away rivulets of water, neighbors in rain slickers walking dogs, the dance of fireplace flames reflected in the glass. I sat and listened to the grind and hum of the espresso machine, the music of ceramic and silverware clanking, the din of voices, the rhythmic spray of water on dishes, a broken "Hallelujah" crooning from speakers in the corners above. 

And I soaked in the comfort of it, a little sponge dipping in a basin of water and filling.

Coffee shops are every bit as much sanctuaries for me as church buildings, though each offers a different kind of sanctuary. What I needed today is not to feel alone.  I didn't come to have conversation that would help me feel less emotionally alone, but I came here to be in a room with other living bodies. To physically feel less alone. To surround myself with voices other than the one inside my head, with the reminders of lives going on around me other than my own. The ritual of people coming to the same place for their morning cup of coffee or their Sunday brunch, reading the newspaper, sharing their lives.  

God met me here, too, as he did on the couch this morning in the empty apartment, and I walked back home full in my heart, the scent of espresso on my skin.


1 comment:

  1. I wonder at how you soak this up like a sponge, sopping up the ordinary that is holy. And I know just what you mean -- not wanting to be physically alone. I get this as an extrovert, but no matter. Sometimes we just need to be around other humans doing their human things. I am so sorry you've been sick, love, and hope you're feeling so much better. I love the way you write the simple and wrap it in such profound. I love you.