The church I go to is a coffee house.
I don’t mean it’s like a coffee house, or that I go to a coffee house instead of church.
My church IS a coffee house.
Monday-Saturday they serve up warm, and cold, bevs for wonderful people. On Sudays the coffee bar is closed and we worship.
One of the coolest things about the whole deal, and believe me there are many, is that most everyone that works the espresso machine or cash register is a volunteer. The tips go to the baristas, but otherwise they recieve no monetary compensation. I like to think they’re there because they love the crap out of people. It’s pretty legit.
A good friend of mine used to volunteer the closing shift on Monday nights and soon that night became dinner and game night at the kitchen table closest to the bar. Sometimes there would be four of us sharing a meal and playing Bananagrams, other nights the table would be packed full of hungry bodies. We would feed anyone that walked by if there was enough food, and there usually was, but a few times we actually had to coerce people into eating with us. Every Monday night felt like a piece of the kingdom to come.
It’s been a few years since we started Monday night dinners and life has changed. Friends have moved away, only to come back in my case, and now there are new baristas working the Monday night shift. Our tradition slipped into nostalgia with the blink of an eye. It’s sad to think about how effortless it was to let go of something that made me feel so at home.
This past Monday, however, our nostalgia dusted itself off, put on a schmancy new suit, and met eight hungry mouths at the table, the one closest to the bar. It felt right. We ate a delicious meal, played a heated game of “Vegas” Rack-o, and laughed like life was a stand-up routine…a good one.
It was easy to fall back into a rythym and feel at home again. Maybe because we were on familiar ground, a place that is heavy with the aroma of coffee and promise of comfort.
Maybe it was that we shared a “gourmet” meal together.
Or, maybe, it’s because we still love each other like it’s the only language we know how to speak.
I am blessed to have the kind of friends that speak my language. The kind who will undertake an instense period of fasting together, or yearn to live in intentional community with each other. The ones who have refrigerator rights in my house, or open the front door without knocking. Friends who intercess on my behalf, without my prompting them to. People I choose to do life alongside. Family.
I am blessed and so, overwhelmingly, thankful.
It’s easy to remember we’re supposed to be thankful in this season where holidays whir past, but it’s not always easy to actually be thankful. From Halloween to the New Year there seems to be a never ending haze of shopping, wrapping, eating, and generally blazing through the shortened winter days on autopilot. As time goes by we seem to wrap up each year by forgetting what should matter most. And smack dab in the middle of the season is a day where we are supposed to be nothing but thankful.
I tend to get a bit cynical about being thankful as a tradition. It seems forced.
I’m not trying to imply that people are disingenous with their thankfulness, but rather that it becomes a little less meaningful when we voice it only one day a year. Kind of like when you say a word over and over and suddenly it’s gibberish.
It’s almost as if the tradition takes away from the spirit that the day is rooted in.
A day of honoring the things of highest import, coming home, and remembering who you are.
A day of sitting at a table, the one closest to the bar, and loving others like it’s the only language you know.
That is what I will be doing this Thanksgiving, speaking my language over some great food. That’s what I try to do everyday, but more than anything I will try to remain rooted in the spirit of the day by remembering who I am with a little help from those that love me and gratitude for the things I have never been entitled to.