Pastor finds community in local coffee shops

By Contributor Eric Blauer

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).

Painting by Eric Blauer

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.

Rockwood Bakery/by Eric Blauer

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.
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5 responses to “Pastor finds community in local coffee shops

  1. So sad to hear about the Shop! I loved loved LOVED the old decor. Perry St. still has the Lantern! (For now…)

    There’s a new place opening on Main where my beloved Rocket Bakery used to be. Supposedly it will have coffee AND booze, which may be too much for me if I’m looking to get work done.

  2. hananeneffloutf

    I like that painting!

  3. Beautiful painting Eric!

  4. Ok here’s a little video of the makeover…it’s actually coming along much better than I thought it was going to. The pink/purple is rooted more in the Greatful Dead genre, which fits the Beattles pics, inspirational quotes, quasi Buddhist vibe and sound. I think the ladies and the metrosexuals will really vibe with the change but I’m not sure if the lumberjacks and meat men will. It feels more Seattle than Portland than Spokane. So…3 stars I guess.

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