Thus it was with much angst I entered my Starbucks this past Tuesday and the square tables had returned. No round tables in sight anywhere. I went to a table, set my bookbag down, went through my little routine of getting my studyspace ready, and then went up to order my drink. Erin the manager asked how I liked the new square tables. I then made my displeasure known, and expressed my fondness for the round tables. And then the gloriously surprising question from Erin: do you want the tables? What? You can give them to me? Erin said that if the church wanted them, we could have them. And wouldn't you know I just happened to have the minivan with me that afternoon. It's like I was destined to receive those rejected round tables. I tried not to smile too big - what a delightful gift. I also tried not to be too obnoxious in my gratitude. What luck!
Later that afternoon, after Erin and I loaded up the four round tables into the van, I got a little too nostalgic about all the memories I have with these tables. I know that in the past five years many other people have sat at these tables. But in those years that I have been coming to my Starbucks to read and study and write and pray and think and reflect and learn and make friends - a lot has happened in my life while sitting at those round coffee tables. I've always looked forward to walking into my Starbucks, shouting out a hello to the baristas working, catching up on how a weekend went, how the day is going, or getting into longer conversations about life. I've also always looked forward to settling down at one of those round coffeetables by a window, a cup of steaming Americano underneath my nose, a book, and a pen. And then the thoughts, the pondering, the wondering, the floundering, the finding. And then seeing a friend, or making a new friend.
Now that some of the round coffeetables are in my office, they seem out of place. I look at those tables and I remember the books I read, the decisions I made, the moments when something made sense in a new way, when I caught onto an idea that had been floating around in my soul, when I admitted something to be true, when I accepted reality on God's terms. The tables seem out of place in my office, but they are round reminders of my friends at Starbucks, of my many many many hours spent there, of my spot by the window.
So, thank you Erin for the gift. Thank you to all the baristas at my Starbucks for your kindness, your friendliness, your warm-heartedness, your generosity, your skill, and your diligence. You work hard, and you've created a great store with a great atmosphere. Thanks.
FYI: My wife likes to talk about the different times she has called my Starbucks to ask if I'm there. It's nice to be known on a first name basis with a coffeeshop. We also like to remember the time my Starbucks called my house to make sure I was coming in that day in order for them to give me some free product. That, my friends, is some of what makes my Starbucks so great!