I'm sitting at a coffee shop this afternoon, sipping a Mayan Mocha, reading my Bible and another book. And I'm struck by the idea of coffee and community. This particular coffee shop, Leaves & Beans in Morton is one of my favorite haunts. I've got my comfy chair, books on each its arms, coffee on the little coffee table in front of me and a great view. I can people watch, both inside and out. I see people at Dairy Queen across the street, enjoying their treats. I see a couple on a bench slowly eating ice cream and watching cars go by. I see a young couple with their baby, laughing and feeding each other ice cream. I see a dad with 2 young boys, perhaps enjoying the first ice cream of the season.
Inside the coffee shop, I had a little chat with the barista. Nice gal. A couple college age guys are hanging out, looks like they're checking out the barista. Two ladies are sipping iced tea and talking about husbands and grandkids and budgets. An older gentleman and his wife just pulled up - he comes in for coffee, she runs over to Dairy Queen.
What is it about a coffee shop that breeds community? Coffee drinker or not, people gather at coffee shops to talk, to laugh, to cry, to fight.
I've seen people study for school, study their Bible, study others in the shop or just study the technology in front of them.
I've watched couples talk through tough subjects while other couples plan their wedding.
I've seen the start of a first date and watched others break up.
I've seen groups with their heads bowed in prayer while others express their anger and frustration about God.
I've watched as someone came in alone and sad, only to find spontaneous community with a friend and their countenance visibly lifted.
What is it about a coffee shop that breeds community? And can we create that same community in our homes? In our churches?
I love hanging out in coffee shops. I am content to come alone, watch people, read my books and sip my coffee. But more often I love the random conversations that can take place. I love meeting a friend and deepening our friendship. I love to look for that person who came in alone and sad and go over and offer a smile and a kind word. I love the openness of most people in a coffee shop, the topics that naturally arise that you may not talk about otherwise. I love the God moments that I've witnessed or been a part of. I love to sit and pray for those I encounter in the coffee shop.
There's something beautifully messy about coffee shop community. And I love every moment of it.