Clouds Over Peach Street Starbucks

Erie, Pennsylvania, 9:05 a.m. This June 8, 2015, is gray, drizzly, close, still. If I accomplish anything worthy, it will come from without–a descending muse, a cloudburst of grace.


Clouds over Peach Street Starbucks

When I looked at my watch just now to check the date, I remembered: my mom died seventeen years ago today. Another layer of humidity touches my skin. (I miss you as much as ever, Mom, but these waking hours are unfolding, and you would want me to do more than cradle the sadness pushing inside my chest.) Crying is therapeutic, but it reaches a point of diminishing returns.

I want to let wife Kathy’s words be my weather. Early this morning she borrowed a line from Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park: “Life finds a way.” He was talking about a species of dinosaurs reproducing, even though they were all engineered to be females. Kathy had in mind a neglected amaryllis bulb. During the flurry of our recent move, it slept in a pot by our dining room window without soil or water.


“You won’t plant me, so I’ll show you,” Kathy heard the flowers say.

Life finds a way. So does hope. At about the time I was recalling Mom’s face, a woman bought a tired, weathered guy coffee and a bagel. They were strangers. No fanfare. “Thank you.” “You’re welcome, sir.” Quiet hope, almost invisible. Not all flowers are stunning. Some just sigh.


Parked by my truck, these say, “Shh. I’m only slightly lovely.”

All hope asks of me is that I watch for it–amazing how often I can’t even do that. But maybe I should honor Mom’s memory by opening my eyes.


I come home regularly now to find that old gimp Watson has willed himself up on the bed. Here he joins cat Baby Crash for a siesta. For me, hope requires a climb.


A couple blocks from our new house: this mutt clawed a window air conditioner out of the way and kept watch on the porch roof. On bad days, I also have to push some shit out of the way to get into open air, where hope resides.


Then again, sometimes gorgeous life is hiding in what I consider inconvenience. A downpour delays my leaving Starbucks, but the splash invites me to look.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, rainbows are cliches. So what. This one, outside of Abiding Hope Lutheran Church, had Kathy and me standing in the rain. Sing us a song, Kermit the Frog.

I can leave my Starbucks perch now without getting drenched, so off I go. Thanks for the good words, Kathy. And stay with me, Mom. Help me to find life and hope and to remember you with joy.

P.S. A note to friends: Please forgive me for falling behind on blog reading, commenting, and posting. In a few days I’ll be taking A Napper’s Companion on the road for a presentation at a regional church gathering. Combined with usual duties and moving the Coleman household, preparing for this talk has had me busy up to my nose. Hang in there with me and send some loving energy my way. I’ll see you again soon. Peace, John

10 thoughts on “Clouds Over Peach Street Starbucks

  1. Thank you for posting a tribute to your Mom Pastor John. I’ve missed you lately. “Papa” passed into Heaven on May 23rd. You know that I always told you God has a sense of humor? I still say it. Ed and I went to take him to see his new apartment which is a lovely senior complex. I was helping him into the back seat of the vehicle when he slumped over and was gone. Staff came from every nook and cranny and there we all were right at the entranceway of the nursing home. They helped lower him onto the walkway. The sky was blue and the sun shining. We intended to show him the apartment, and have lunch there in anticipated discharge on Friday. My thought is that he decided he wanted to go and have lunch with my Mom instead. Enjoy your week at Assembly and think fondly of us who live right up the hill.

    • Hi, Cathy. I’m sorry to hear about Papa, but glad he was able to be with you and Ed to the end–glad too that his passing was peaceful. Assembly went fine, and you can bet I think of you and yours fondly. Peace, John

  2. I remember that day. That summer was a terrible combination of having to do things (CPE) and wanting to just break down. I’m glad that we at least had that common understanding that a parent’s death can wreck you, but hope insists on presenting itself if even in very tiny ways.


    • Hey, Beth. Congratulations on your contribution to that new sermon collection. Bravo! Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll pass on any repeat of the summer of 1998, but I’m glad we persevered, along with our old buddy Joe Hess. Peace, John

    • Hey, Mandy. Peace and good energy most definitely received. Gracias! Hope things have been well with you and yours lately–and that summer is restful. John

  3. Pingback: Worth Reading — 6/17/15 | A Touch of Cass

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