One of the institutions of beach life is Sunday morning coffee hosted by Chris, who currently lives in Scott’s House.
Scott’s House is set on a dune surrounded by lush vegetation and a great view of the ocean. There are two ways to this house – a shady walk along the road or a somewhat warmer amble along the beach.
Chris is endowed with a somewhat roguish sense of humour at times and one of the ways this manifests is when he tells new visitors that the easiest way to Scott’s house is along the beach. Now while this may possibly be a shorter route, what unsuspecting first time visitors do not know is the degree of the ascent from the beach to the house. Those of us in the know wait, I must admit a little smugly on occasions, for the heads to appear above the undergrowth at the top of the path.
Silently we each assess the dazed look, the speechless shock of the face framed by the bush and then someone will callously call out, “Welcome – you made it!” People deal with this physical assault in different ways: some pretend that they are superfit and the climb was nothing; others are too blown to make any comment at all; then there are those honest souls who wheeze their indignation through beaded droplets of perspiration .
If needs be introductions are made, otherwise the greeting of airkissing both cheeks, usually followed by a bemused silence until someone will either explain the ritual or start the ritual. Each person has their own single cup sized plunger so their coffee is made to taste. The coffee is dark and freshly ground served in a pretty blue pottery bowl. As this is a special occasion it is a little decadent so there is generally only cream available as a dilutant, but if no cream the milk is foamed and you can chose to have it hot or cold.
Slowly conversations start up as people begin reaching into the paraphernalia on the table, some shyly at first, and soon the wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee mixes with the sea breezes.
The significance of this weekly meeting is not so much about the coffee as it is about community, about fellowship. In this unthreatening (apart from the hike up from the beach) environment conversation flows and ebbs. New friends are made and new knowledge is gleaned through the diversity of people that assemble there. Or it could be the comfortable companionship of the handful of residents. Sometimes the talk is serious, at other times amusing and maybe even a little heated in discussion as different views are expounded.
Somehow for me this is community in its truest sense. A group of people getting together for no reason other than to interact with other people and being genuinely accepting of all the members no matter the differences between them and then being interested in all they have to contribute.
More and more on this journey that I am undertaking in this almost remote part of the globe I am seeing how wonderful community is and the important lessons that can be learnt in an environment such as the one in which I find myself. Whilst everyone is aware of other’s weaknesses and failings, they are accepted because there is acknowledgement that each of us is imperfect. On the flip side there is recognition of strengths and talents, and each person here contributes willingly to the common good because this is us and we are what we have. Or as my friend Jane quipped when passing this theory by her: “You mean it’s because you think we’re all a little nutty!”
No matter, each of us chooses which path we will take to go to coffee on Sunday mornings knowing it is not the route we take it is what lies at the end of the route that matters. It makes me remember that God uniquely made each one of us so that together we could make an extraordinary whole.
©Glenda Stephens July 2012