The Strange Cathedral Down the Street
I’m hanging out at my local Starbucks on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting in one of those brown leather chairs that are slightly too narrow for me. I have to tuck my elbows close to my rib cage in order to type on my laptop.
At places like this, I’m a shameless people watcher. I once saw a man dressed from head to toe in “authentic, handmade ‘stuff’ from Guatemala.” At least, that’s what he told his friend, who was jealous.
I watched a man trying to drum up subscribers to his YouTube page. He spent about 20 minutes chatting up a table of teenage girls. Then he moved to the next table, where a middle-aged African-American man sat. The man looked like he wanted to be left alone. But our YouTube friend charged in regardless: “Hey, I was just talking to them about my YouTube channel. Do you ever go on YouTube?”
Today, there’s a man wearing red tennis shoes reading the paper. Seated beside him is a man with white hair, thick and curly on the sides but thin and wispy on top. A couple tables away, a teenage girl wearing a tie-dye shirt bends over an open textbook and a stack of loose papers. Across the room, a table of four unaccompanied kids, ages five to ten, wait for what the oldest boy is calling their “coffee things”.
All the while, beneath the whir of the cappuccino maker, there’s the gentle patter of the baristas. This group is cheerful. They seem to like each other.
Yes, my Starbucks is one of the good ones.
Nearly every morning for years, after I wake up, I find a secluded spot in my house where I read my Bible and pray. Sometimes, though, I’ll pull on enough clothes to get myself to this little shop for my “quiet time”. I love watching the doctors and nurses, the students and realtors, financial planners and office drones, construction workers and teachers, all dropping by for their early morning caffeine fix.
Even though I enjoy the solitude of a prayer closet, there’s something holy here at the coffee shop.
Yes, I believe God chooses to reveal himself through his creation. And what wonderful scenery, as beautiful as a forest or a starry sky: the parade of human beings on their way to pick up their Venti Dark Roast coffee.
I open my eyes. I open my heart.
I pray: “Speak, Lord”.