I walked into the coffee shop closest to my house before the sun was up, the girl child safely delivered to school, the long list of work tasks already buzzing in my head, and the need for coffee evident as I fumbled to grab everything I needed from my car as I headed inside. It was dark. The baristas yawned. And there were only two other customers besides me.
One of the little cubbies was open, and I slid in, grateful for the bit of privacy these little side tables along the wall provide. I ordered my latte, fired up my work computer, and while it was warming up, flipped open my calendar, blew through a few personal emails on my phone, and paid a couple of bills.
Light streamed in across my screen, enough to startle me out of my focus, and I looked up, rather stunned somehow to realize that morning had finally broken and the neighborhood had emerged, busy, into a Monday morning. Counting Crows sang about Mr. Jones on the shop music system.
And all around me were people: two men in the corner, praying together. This struck me at some very deep level, and I watched them for a moment, half-embarrassed at catching this vulnerable moment, and half wanting to join in what appeared to be an earnest, humble effort to get Monday started on the right foot. Another man flipped through his iPad as he sipped a small cup of black coffee, elderly and grizzled and wrapped up warm, his persona was more utilitarian, like this was just a quick stop on his way to other things. A couple in matching headsets (cannot even make that up) sat curled up behind a corner table, and I’m still not sure if they were talking to each other or someone unknown inside the headset. And in chairs by the window two young women gathered with nothing other than coffee and chit chat on the agenda.
Ordinary. Commonplace. Nothing miraculous about any of it.
Except really it is all pure grace and miracle. People. Human beings. Breathed into existence by the very essence of God, made whole and perfect just as we are and built to be in holy and sacred relationship with one another.
Just about every single thing in our competition-focused, consumer-driven society rages against the truth of what we were created to be. And it is an exhausting and frustrating battle to stand on the solid ground of the knowledge that we are God’s and nothing can separate us from the Love that created us.
Hold someone’s hand today y’all. Have a real conversation with someone you love. Look up from your cubicle or your treadmill or your phone long enough to see that all around you is life, and that life is nothing short of tremendous mercy rained down on a world so very broken and yet also so full of such redemptive goodness.
Connection matters so much, and we spend so much time in isolation whether we realize it or not. And this isolation is, I believe, our undoing. It breeds hate, destruction and violence in ways both obvious and not-so-much and rips at the fabric of our families and communities with fierce accuracy.
Holding on to each other…recognizing our need for each other…simply noticing each other…this creates space for possibility. For grace. For understanding to blossom and relationships to be forged.
And this, I believe, is where redemption begins. Where healing begins. Where it becomes possible for our true and complete and God-breathed selves to emerge and hope to become something real.
When redemption wins, it will not be in a vacuum. Or on an island. Or in isolation.
It will be in the small and quiet and hardly-noticeable-even moments of connection that remind us of our so completely broken and so completely beautiful common humanity.