My favourite coffee shop is closed. It’s a small shop attached to a bookstore—both, part of large chains. I’ve spent hours over the years there visiting with friends or buying coffee and browsing in the adjoining bookstore. A lifetime ago, I used to stop and get coffee early in the morning on my way to work for a Friday treat.
It closed temporarily, earlier this year along with everything else, and when it opened I gladly donned my mask and went inside to buy coffee. Once, I even taken my coffee into the bookstore to browse for an unsatisfactory few minutes but the experience was no longer the same as before. (And certainly wouldn’t be now that masks are mandatory in the bookstore. Kind of hard to sip a latte while wearing a mask.)
Nonetheless, I patronized the shop and bought coffee to take to the park to visit in the summer months when that was how we socialized, and stopped for a cup when I was having a rough day and really needed a treat.
Now it’s closed. For good, the report I read yesterday said. And I wonder anew what this post-COVID world will look like when, eventually, all of this shakes out. None of us know. We imagine. But it’s usually best not to get too far ahead of ourselves.
In the grand scheme, the closing of my favourite coffee shop is inconsequential. The fact that I haven’t spent a pleasant hour browsing in my favourite bookstore this year doesn’t mean much. Life tumbled along just fine before these treats were available to me and it will now that they’re not. Well, maybe not fine. Not just yet.
This morning in my prayer time for some odd reason I thought of the title of a YA book from years ago. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I’m not sure that I ever read the book (I was more interested in Blume’s Deenie because the main character had scoliosis like me.), but I’ve, for sure, appropriated the title in my own desperate prayers.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Linda. I’m a little (a lot) overwhelmed right now. Help.
But prayer these days is different: less “are you there” and more “you are here”.
I’m still overwhelmed—most days, in fact—but with the sense that I’m not alone in my overwhelm. That on the other side of whatever it is that keeps me from seeing clearly, there’s such deep, deep love.
What does any of that have to do with the fact that my favourite coffee shop closed? I don’t know, really. Maybe just a reassurance that though we’re living on unsteady ground where things are being chipped away there’s still the unseen things that haven’t changed.
That the demise of a coffee shop isn’t the worst thing but it’s still a sad thing (especially for the ones who worked there for years) but from it will come a new thing.
That many other stores are closed and, unfortunately, many more will follow.
That it feels like we’re living in a snow globe and someone keeps shaking it.
That the news is almost too much to follow.
That prayer looks different these days.
That maybe we needed for it to look different.