Coffee Shop? Or Temple?

What is sacred space? A cathedral? Your favorite meditation spot? Where George Washington slept?  I started pondering this when I read the observation of a character in Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, “There are those…who believe that all land is sacred. That it is sacred before we come to it, and sacred after.”

Wow, what a concept—the possibility that all space is sacred space. It makes me view every place I go differently. Most recently, it has awakened me to the fact that a local café touting itself as a coffee shop is actually a thinly disguised temple. 

I usually show up at their drive-through after swim class—hair still stringy wet, no make-up, goggle marks giving me a sunken-eyed heroin-junkie look. Yes! Exactly the kind of person you want to see showing up at your window at 6:15 am.

The faces and personalities that greet me are unique, but they are always smiling, always kind. And I can see them as they get my “dark roast with an inch of cream, please”—they’re not just pouring a cuppa joe. They exercise the kind of care that makes me believe they’re performing a blessed ritual as they make this elixir on my behalf.

That coffee has love poured into it. It is not just delicious, caffeine-bearing liquid—it is a healing tonic. The sweetness of this brief but deep exchange reverberates through the quality of my day, and I have to believe that this effect is multiplied (if not taken to some exponential factor) relative to the number of supplicants… er… customers they serve.

The whole experience makes me want to be more aware of the holy, the sacred of every place, every person, and every moment. It’s a goal that’s bigger than I am right now. But I can take the Java Cat (unspoken) challenge and aim for that goal.

Coffee shop? Or temple?