Before the meeting room inside of Coffee d’Vine was built, the large wooden table by the mirror sat in the room’s footprint. Bookshelves and tables filled the remaining half of room by the fireplace. The other half of the room was more tables, chairs and the comfy furniture. The Beatles, Deliriou5, David Wilcox or classical music created an audible spine for the room. Several poster boards with senior pictures and newborn babies pictures were on the wall near the ramp.
The first owners of Coffee d’Vine, Bob and Cristi Sloan, were pastor-shepherds. They talked about Jesus, music, books, ministry and movies and wanted teenagers to loiter outside and didn’t mind them smoking in the parking lot. “I’d rather have them here than somewhere else,” one of them would say.
Their hearts were warm.
They were leading a movement.
They created a sanctuary for all sorts of people.
Rising early and reading has been my pattern since college, but in the fall of 2003, I developed an additional habit: morning coffee. At the large table, in the same seat with the same view, I sat and warmed my spirit for the coming day with Northern Lights. On difficult mornings, an extra shot darkened the coffee.
The other usuals eventually arrived for sanctuary and conversation: Robert with the newspaper, the tall man with the refillable mug, the man who sat on the leather couch, the dental assistants, the drive-thrus and the men who talked politics.
Other than my home, Coffee d’Vine was the holiest retreat in Huntington — a place where I met and talked with God through the Journal Gazette, Merton’s wanderings, Earnest Gaines’ old men, Wangerin’s mice and hens, Dostoyevsky’s Alyosha, Bonhoeffer’s grace, Buechner’s peculiar treasures, John Lewis’ walk over the Edmund Pettus Bridge and reading after reading of John’s Gospel.
I and others are indebted to Bob and Cristi for creating a sanctuary. For the many friends and strangers, we thank you for caring about Huntington. We thank you for creating a place to meet with one another, meet with ourselves and meet with the Father.