"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Community

My husband questioned the grin playing across my lips. "I just love Starbucks," I replied. We were waiting on his tall decaf 3-shot Americano and my grande non-fat decaf latte with 1 Splenda and light foam, but moments earlier, while I was still waiting on the cashier to accept my gift card, I couldn't help but overhear the customer at the adjacent register ordering his drink. I noticed immediately that he was a novice. After all, he didn't know it was a "grande" and not a "grand." And I was just plum embarrassed for him as he tried to place his order. "Can you make that caramel ...." and then there was this long pause. I nearly slipped close and whispered in his ear, "Macchiato," in order to redeem him from any further humiliation. But after he stuttered "caramel" a few more times, the barista caught on and said it for me: "Caramel Macchiato." He wanted to know if she could make it decaf. Yes, a plebe.

Satisfied that the gentleman and his friend would be okay, I turned my attention to the people lining the walls like assorted toys tucked on a shelf after a long day's play. First there was a middle age couple enjoying an evening out. They spoke quietly, leaned in close, and even tasted one another's drinks. Definitely empty nesters rediscovering each other.

Next to them were 2 young girls sitting shoulder to shoulder and giggling while watching the screen on the laptop in front of them.

As my eyes progressed leftward, I witnessed 2 young college guys holding up the north wall. They were as different as night and day sitting there; one was large and black, the other small and white. And whereas their distance and lack of eye contact spoke one thing, their constant conversation said another.

Around the corner from that odd couple sat a mother and son. She was decked in a black overcoat and he was sporting his letter jacket. She seemed delighted to be sharing such a moment and was giving him her full attention across the table; he seemed almost embarrassed to be caught. Thinking about how I love to sit and talk in a coffee shop with my now adult boys -- and they with me, I wonder how long before that young man finds out it's really not so bad to have coffee with his mom.

My eyes made it on to the final group gathered in this java hut: 4 young men lining the window. Since my back was mostly to them during my wait, I didn't have quite the study advantage. But as the barista called my name and I jacketed my cup, I turned and got a quick peek as I headed for the door. Nothing really out of the norm for a coffee shop. Except maybe that male #4 was sitting there in a stocking cap and shorts and it was freezing outside. But I think what amazed me most were his .... shoes, for lack of a better work. They were more like metal slippers with casings for each toe -- like a glove. The texture reminded me of a knight's armor. Looked awfully painful to me and even more odd with the shorts. But I just smiled even larger, reiterated my original thought: "I just love Starbucks," gave a confident nod to the two original plebes, and exited this eclectic community of coffee drinkers.

Community. A science dictionary would define such as "a group of organisms or populations living and interacting with one another in a particular environment." The legal dictionary lists it as "people who live in a particular place or region and usually are linked by some common interests." We might use words such a society, association, kinship, league and even brotherhood to define this word community.

As I sat in church last week celebrating Christmas Eve communion with "my folks," I was struck by community. It was a sure place of kinship, association and brother/sisterhood. Common interest brought us together. The king's horses couldn't separate us. But that's really no surprise. After all, we had gathered to worship a God who is communal. He is a plurality of oneness. As is written in the introduction to Common Prayer, "God has lived in community from eternity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God as Trinity is the core reality of the universe, and that means that the core of reality is community." We are made in the image of community: whether we experience it within the walls of our worship centers or in a coffee shop.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, December 17, 2010