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Sacred Space

There are those places along our journeys, the kinds that knew us before we did, the kinds that hollow out room for the passers by, the comers and goers, and those that linger or loiter. I am never quite sure when a space will entranse me to its calm, invite me to remain, endeavor to call me to something, someone, or send me on my way with just the right concoction of steamed milk, the raw roast of molten beans…and a taste of the human condition. This morning as I have done the last several mornings I squeezed into the old desk row seats along the heavy bricked wall at Cup-A-Joe on Hillsborough Rd. You know it better than I do…

“Its better than church,” said Julia, the whimsical woman with dark-rimmed glasses and just the amount of pizzaz in her hair that messy meant beautiful. Pointing to the corner table she said, “When we were here 30 years ago, with our toddlers climbing the benches and hiding under the tables, we were told 'that’s the grown-up table'. There are a cast of characters in here, some with a number of Nobel Laureates.” Her friend, Mike leaned over saying, “It’s egalitarian, it’s more Democratic… After the election, we allIts need to be reminded of what is real. The realness here is what keeps me coming back, every single day.”

From the grown-up table there was murmur of Louisville, KY where I went to high school, and thus the sacred space that held us all invited me to inquire. Bill Tucker and I went to the same high school; him when it was still an all male school, and me 50 years later when duPont Manual High School was a Math and Science Youth Performing Arts School on the campus of the University of Louisville. Then across the table, Mitch whose last name would remain a mystery until next time… who recounted name after name of those whose funerals he had attended at Community UCC where he describes he’d like to visit. “It’s too liberal for me," he said. “I tried to go there once, but as I got closer and closer I fell off the edge.” Getting up to better things he was replaced by another tall and friendly-faced man: Henry Haywood, of the Haywoods of Raleigh… kind and gentle, the conversation grew from a world known before to both of us. Then, one by one as the seats were filled and filled again, the newcomers as “familiar” and necessary to the experience as the coffee in the cups, I understand: Cup-A-Joe, a world of resilience and resolutions, of people and personas —the Commons is alive and well.

Today, as your world beckons you to the tasks at hand, look around, look up, look across the table, out your window, into the eyes of passers by, and wait for it-wait for the sacred spaces and faces to tell a different story… than the otherwise complicated and disagreeable existence that waits just outside the door.

“Holy and Mystical Spirit, weaver of life and giver of light, we know that your love, your presence can never be contained by space or time, but that in it you are eager to invite us to a deeper knowing, a deeper listening where our lives knit together can tell a different story. Help us to listen deeply, look closely and share the mystery, one person at a time. Amen.”

-- Rev. Jenny Shultz-Thomas