How could I have missed it? I must have turned right at this intersection a hundred times and never saw this sign across the street. “Coffee shop”. It was worth checking out.
I turned in. There, on a small plot, lingers a couple little buildings that refuse to relinquish their roots sunk in the tiny cow town of yesteryear to this growing city . I ventured into the shop, which is an add-on to the main building and set back a few feet, making it hard to spot from the street. A white haired lady stood behind the counter, chatting with a customer, the barber from next door. One of those ubiquitous pump coffee thermoses was at hand. “Oh no”, I cringed inwardly. Can I make a gracious escape? However, I put on a happy face and asked brightly, “Do you make espresso?” She answered in the affirmative so I took the plunge. “Give me one shot with a shot of half and half, please.” She didn’t bat an eye. “And would you like the half and half frothed? It really brings out the sweetness in the coffee”, encouraged the elderly barista. Well, naturally, yes please!
She labored attentively over her preparations then brought my order to me where I waited, seated at the end of a row of tables that had been pushed together. As I sipped, pleasantly surprised by the quality of my mid-morning drink, I studied my surroundings. This room had obviously never been subjected to the rigors of an interior decorator – and seemed happily content to remain as is. I sighed deeply, took off my coat and relaxed. I was in Grandma’s kitchen. My line of sight stopped briefly at a set of recessed shelves that displayed paper Thanksgiving decorations like some my mom used in her classroom “way back when”. A few more feet along the same wall, a nautical display beckoned to be inspected more closely. Pictures of ships and little shelves of sea-themed ornaments were tastefully arranged. Higher up, where there was till room, maps hung: one huge Burlington railroad map along with others. On a high, narrow shelf, dozens of tea pots squeezed into their places like passengers in a Mozambican minivan. Everything, to my eye, seemed pure vintage. But for the 80 year old barista, they are each simply ordinary things she had used throughout her life.
Friendly and down-to-earth, she easily feel into conversation with me. She’s a local – born and raised here. This land, these buildings, are part of her inheritance. The coffee shop was added to give her something to do in her later years, the years she now enjoys. I heard about her family, who all live in the area. The room where I sat and drank her tasty “cap” houses a thousand stories, and I would have liked to hear every one of them. But she did share one thing with me that I will never forget:
“See this table right here?”, she pointed to a round, wood table. “Every morning my brothers and I meet right here for coffee together.” Her face glowed. “Yes, this is the life. I’m living the dream.” And she is most grateful.
As I drove away, my heart was happy for her. She is living the dream, my dream. After having spent most of my adult life across the ocean from my brothers, I cherished a vision in my minds eye of growing old alongside my brothers. When we reached 80, the three of us would be sitting at a table just like that, cradling mugs of strong cappuccinos, unhurried, sharing stories and loving on each other. Though realizing that dream is not possible for me, that dream has indeed come true. I got to see it today in the face of the sweet barista. And my heart knows hope.
Let us all set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Our earthly dreams offer no guarantee of fulfillment. Even when these fail us, there is grace that never will. All who know the Savior, the true source of true hope, Jesus Christ, have a hope for light and life for their soul now, and forever. This is certain.
Check it out. I Peter 1:13, (but really, all five chapters!)