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HomeCommentaryPastor finds community in local coffee shops

Pastor finds community in local coffee shops

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Painting of The Shop, by Pastor Eric Blauer
Painting of The Shop, by Pastor Eric Blauer

The Shop is one of my most favorite neighborhood hangouts and it’s undergoing another transformation due to the new owners re-imagining the space. I’ve been visiting off and on over the last few weeks, anxiously awaiting the ‘shoe to drop’ and see what they do with the space. Granted, it wasn’t the most artistically or aesthetically loved spot before, had more of a guy living in his mom’s basement feel, but it had a certain post-garage band vibe to it that I could manage. I love this business so much, I actually painted this picture and gave it as a gift to the previous owner, capturing it forever in colorful memory (see below).

I’ve spent more money than I dare examine at The Shop over the last six years and a lot of living has taken place in this small den of delight. When I moved out of my suburban ministry role and moved into this part of town, I left the church-as my-office rhythm,  bought a laptop and married my ministry life to my day-to-day life in various third places around town.

To the chagrin of a few business owners I’ve ended up hijacking The Shop and other coffee caves and made them my office, counseling couch, writer’s desk, telecommunications center and often needed urban recreational reprieves. These days, I’ve made friends with people who in my old pastoral context, I wouldn’t of been able to meet because of this change. I’ve realized that I had allowed a ‘come and see me’ method of mission to dominate my ministry mind instead of a ‘go and meet them’ missional ethos. Now with my iPhone and my secretary Siri, I am fully capable of living a business life out and among the very people God has called me to be in relationship with in my community, and the coffee is way better too.

Earlier this week was judgement day. I walked into The Shop and the apocalypse fell upon my man-mind as I gazed upon the old lady purple colored walls and the mauve high back grandma chairs and a piano crammed into an overcrowded space, an assorted menagerie of mix-matched tables and chairs. I turned around and walked out. I couldn’t do it, it was too much. It felt like my best friend had showed up in drag. I left with an odd goodbye to my buddy behind the counter, his puzzled farewell matched my disoriented thoughts as I pondered the fearful possibility that we might be breaking up.

I ended up at my better looking, but far more boisterous and never a smile, third choice: The Rockwood Bakery. This is a ‘no-sweatpants’ kinda coffee bar; pretty good coffee, get lost in the noise hunker-downability and  beautiful, but like the supermodel in a magazine, not the girl next door kind. I did my work, drowned my sorrow in drip and contemplated my coffee shop future. I was productive but persnickety.

I hope that The Shop is in a phase and will work out it’s wardrobe issues. My serenity depends on it. I dare not think of the possible tragic loss of yet another favorite barrista. I barely survived the dismissal of my last frothy foam fairy.
But whatever happens, I now know in this day place matters and that’s a gift I am grateful to have rediscovered through local coffeeshops.

As for tomorrow, Indaba, here I come, you better not be wearing any bauble jewelry.

Eric Blauer
Eric Blauerhttp://fcb4.tumblr.com/
I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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