Before each Solo Journey, I pray that God will bless me and the people and places in my path. In last week’s blog, I talked about my dolphin cruise and the impact of those animals on my day. On that Friday morning before my cruise, I walked across from where Captain Johnny’s boat was docked to a coffee shop. I couldn’t believe they weren’t open– since it was almost 8:00. Thinking they must be on ‘island time’ I turned from the locked door and a woman sitting on a nearby bench, told me the coffee place down the block was open.
I spotted the Charis Coffee Company in an attractive shingled building on the Main Street of Manteo– that picturesque town on Roanoke Island. The morning air was fragrant with the perfume of Carolina jasmine and the blooming privet bush at the steps of the coffee shop.
Inside, the atmosphere was welcoming with natural wood floors, high ceiling, and soothing colors. I ordered my dark roast and walked around while the young man at the counter prepared the pour-over.
It’s not unusual for me to seek out coffee shops– and bookstores on my journeys. This one clearly had more than selling a great cup of java as its focus. I read:
The mission of Charis is to be more than just another coffee shop. We sell ‘Coffee With A Cause’. Each month a portion of our profits go to an organization we feel is making our world a better place. You can keep up with our ‘Causes’ each month through our social media accounts.
Drinking my brew with still some time before the boat would take off, I noticed the chalkboard like wall with the definition of Charis:
What caught my eye next was a portion that was a Prayer Wall. Customers had written prayer requests on tags and pinned them to the wall. In spite of looking forward to my solo journey, I had had a heavy heart and was not able to let go of what weighed me down. I took a tag and wrote one sentence to summarize my burden, praying for some relief and hoping someone would read my words and pray for me.
Too soon, it was time to leave to catch my boat. I felt gratitude for the moments I’d had in that unexpected place of grace, as I walked out, thanking the barista for the excellent coffee.
Several days later when I drove from Nags Head, where I was staying, into Manteo, I noticed there was another Charis location. On Tuesday when I was leaving the Outer Banks, I stopped in to get a cup of coffee for the road. I waited as the man at the counter talked with a woman about the Bluegrass Festival they’d had on the island that weekend, both commenting on the sales being down for vendors. When he finished with her he turned to me. I made my order and told him about my visit to the other Charis location. His name was Josh and he was the owner.
“Yeah, God told my wife and me to open this coffee shop,” he went on to tell about their work with an area youth ministry in addition to Charis.
Given it was a quiet weekday morning, no one else came in and I sat at the counter and enjoyed our conversation while I sipped my coffee. I shared with him about publishing my memoir, and feeling that’s what I was ‘told’ to do, God’s work through my life.
“Well I wish I’d known that. I would have introduced you to the woman I was talking to. She owns the bookstore.”
“Is her name Jamie? I was introduced to her by email through a contact here– but she didn’t respond,” I told him.
“Yep, that was Jamie,” he said and smiled.
He asked me about my book and I told him about my story of having the toxic job then being diagnosed with breast cancer. He said his sister-in-law had just finished treatment for breast cancer.
Before I left, I gave him the one remaining copy of my book that I’d brought. He said he would give it to his sister-in-law and would share my business card with Jamie– opening up the possibility of that store carrying my book, a contact I’d planned to make that occurred because of my stop at the coffee shop.
Charis Coffee Company– a place that happened to be in my path that offered a great cup of coffee, momentary relief from my burden, and hope that my memoir will provide relief for a fellow breast cancer survivor. Grace for the journey.
How About You?
In what place have you been surprised to experience an unexpected blessing?
What factors made that a special place for you?