A Prayer from State Street Starbucks

Dear God,

You know everything I’m going to tell you. I’m writing these words as a way of inviting friends into my prayer.


Oprah smiles on us all–hope she’s channeling you, God.

Constance* is ranting eight feet away. He’s pounding the table with his pointer finger. He’s alone, and there’s no way to join him. Years ago daughter Elena told me Constance sometimes cross-dresses and, in fact, has a home and money. I don’t know what’s true. I only know that Constance wears perma-stained sweat suits, walks everywhere, lugs a stuffed army duffle bag, and talks constantly to imagined companions or combatants.

What happened to Constance, God? I can’t imagine these wandering days and upset conversations are what you intended for him. I’m sad, choked up actually, because the only meaningful thing I can do is look at him without judgment and love a man who can’t escape a nightmare. What human being is under the soil and blather? You must know him. In your mercy, here or in your eternal arms, birth a sane Constance, bring to life a soul who can speak to real friends. He just walked outside—for air, to follow a hallucination—and he’s weary, winded. Pacing, talking, exhausting himself.


Did Constance start out like grandson Cole–loving mother and father, gushing family, sound mind?

And now he’s back, grabbing the bathroom key and aching his way down the hall. It’s hard for me to trust that in your own time and way you’ll grant him peace. To tell the truth, God, I often feel like a dunce, believing that somehow, as days turn to decades and millennia waltz toward the eventual collision of galaxies, you’ll receive Constance and me and every dog, druggie, and run-of-the-mill spirit into your grace. But I do believe–can’t help it.

And the guy who was in here an hour ago with a ponytail and booze-red face, you know, the guy with no ass to hold up his jeans: someday you’ll fill his pockets with peace more lasting than the money he was trying to pester out of his frustrated, broke friend. You will, right? Please.

Of course, there’s plenty of joy here at Starbucks, too, God. Jesse and Ricardo, our beloved Erie couple who dress as wild twins and ride a tandem bike everywhere, even in winter, were here. Thank you for them, God. Thanks for the hats they wore this morning: Jesse in a white one the Queen of England would prize, Ricardo also in a white one that reminded me of a Hostess Sno Ball. They refuse to be other than what they are, and I’m grateful for that. I find them holy.


Like Ricardo’s hat, God, except make it white and top it with coconut. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Well, Constance finally headed out and slogged across State Street, his duffle bag bouncing against his back—a light burden, I imagine, compared to the voices. I can’t see him anymore, but until his new birth or the inevitable last dance of the Milky Way, whichever comes first, I’ll keep an eye on Constance for as long as I can. Receive my offering: I won’t think any less of him than I do myself. It’s not much, I know.


I can’t quite spot Constance from this view, but I believe you can. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Lovely day, God. Ribs Fest is rocking downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. The volume swells every time somebody comes in. A couple of teenagers just entered. From the way they smell, I’m guessing a case of the munchies will drive them toward a vendor who will smile and gladly take their money.


I’ll take this opportunity to ask you, God, about your stance on legalization. (Credit: Chmee2. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a good day; it really is. Soon I’ll head out myself into the gorgeous light, the comfortable air. My meter is long spent, so I’ll probably get a $10 ticket. Anyway, please hear my thanks. It’s just that Constance was here, suffering and lost, and seeing him got into the place in my chest you have created to hold tears.

I needed to talk to you. Please help us. And if nothing else, let Constance sleep well tonight. Give him a dream that feels like your embrace.



*Not his real name.

20 thoughts on “A Prayer from State Street Starbucks

  1. I like you, John Coleman. You are good people (as they say where I grew up). If I believed in the same God that you do, I would say he resides in the sweet face of your grandson. That little guy is some wonderful kind of creation.

    I wish a peaceful day for you and your Starbucks cohorts. Thanks for sharing your prayer.

    • Hey, Mary. Yup, Cole is a God-face for sure. Words are so weird, you know? Sometimes I’m not sure who the God of my belief is. Sometimes I think God is the Ultimate who gives tears and laughter. Peace and thanks, John

    • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your presence in my blogworld, Smilecalm. Your willingness to listen past forms and language is nourishment. Peace, John

    • Blessings back to you, Ben, and the whole Deb-clan. Sunny in Erie, Pennsylvania, today. Hope it’s shining in your neighborhood, too. John

  2. Beautiful piece, John…oddly, there are two pairs of tandem bike riders in our fair city: One is a set of identical twins, the other just two men devoted to each other wh always dress alike as well. I’m not sure which are Jesse and Ricardo, but they make life in Erie more unique, more interesting, than some might think. Good prayer!

  3. I think I’ve finally realized why I glom onto your words when I normally eschew other religious writings. I’ll explain it to you one of these days. Perhaps over coffee at a Starbucks, if I ever get lucky enough to meet up with you in person.
    ‘Til then…Rock on, John Coleman. Rock on.

    • Rocking on in Erie, Pennsylvania, sister! If you ever make it to town, you’ll get a cup on me. I’d love to hear what you think. Peace, John

    • Because John exudes love, love and more love. Love and acceptance…true acceptance, feeling another’s pain, wanting to help, holding their longings for them just to give them a lift.
      John doesn’t recite scripture, he goes beyond any of that to something we can all understand and appreciate. It is a religion that belongs to everyone, no matter what you believe. That’s why I glom onto his words 🙂 xo
      And can I join in on that coffee?

  4. There need to be more prayers (and more help and more patience) for people like Constance. You are one of the good ones, John, and don’t you ever forget that. Your ability to see into the heart of people and then, to eloquently speak about it, is a true treasure here on the interwebs. Much love to you.

    • Thanks, Rose. It’s great to be considered “one of the good ones.” “Interwebs!” Love it. Much love back atcha. John

  5. I have seen Constance also walking through the park and on the street, talking out loud, maybe to God. I’m glad there’s people like you praying over them. I will have to remember to do the same.

    • Hey, Lily. Darned if folks like Constance don’t wiggle into my spirit. Blog praying for him and others does my heart good. Peace, John

  6. John, I’m catching up on my visiting and saw this after your kind comment on my post today. I am going to share this on FB and print a copy to take with me everywhere I go. This is something that anyone, regardless of religion or views of God, can be inspired by. Thank you.

    • Such kinds words, Elizabeth, and from a fellow writer. I’m glad the prayer sounded across beliefs–I’m quite a spiritual mutt myself–and grateful for your posting it on FB. Peace and thanks, John

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