It was just a cup of coffee and a donut. In the edgy aftermath of last Tuesday’s events though, it was a small reminder that normalcy still exists. A glimmer of hope in caffeine and a chocolate and nut covered life-preserver of deep fried dough. There was a reminder of my grandma’s kitchen on a random Saturday during my childhood, when she and my mother sat around her linoleum kitchen table and we kids would palm a sugar cube from the rose patterned dish and pop it into our mouth, savoring the sweet dissolving granules before darting off to play. Coffee and donuts and a reminder that we might be ok.
On Tuesday night, I had turned off the noise well before the final results but too late for the knowledge that against all odds and reason Donald Trump was going to be the next President. Bigotry, hatred, xenophobia had won the day. Enough of his supporters, who had spent the campaign sugar coating the message behind a Make America Great again slogan had elevated a racist sexual predator to the highest office in the land. I imagined even a priapic JFK and a mentally unbalanced Nixon whirling in their graves. It remains possible that the office will shape the man but that’s not a hand I’m willing to double down on. Not when the dealer shows a jack and I’m holding an eight and a seven. On Wednesday, I was in the throes of an emotional storm. The weather changed with alarming irregularity, and I rolled from anger to despair to fear and to hopelessness, often within a period of ten minutes. The cycle repeated itself and seemed to be both quelled and fed by the emotions of my coworkers. If there was a Trump supporter among us their discretion held their elation at bay. The majority were like me, in denial, despair, fear and uncertainty. Shock might be the best summation of what we were all feeling and we shared during our coffee breaks and lunches our frustrations. It was good to have the therapy of work and the company of others. The gay man expressed his fears openly and we affirmed him. A woman could not contain her anger, curses peppering her words freely and received without judgment from the group. Earlier I had received a general email from our Pastor that members of our congregation had been calling her all day, with similar worries and so many questions. She decided to open the church that evening, for quiet, for prayer and for conversation as needed. I had already decided to go, but as I heard my coworkers vent, I knew with a humility borne of the Spirit that I would be carrying their burdens with me. It was the first time in my life that my prayer responsibility had taken on such immediacy. I had a few minutes to kill before I headed to the church. There is a Dunkin Donuts that lies on busy Aurora Avenue in North Seattle, due east of the church. It had been a meeting place of some of the older men from church, who gathered informally at the Church of The Holy Donut every Monday morning. Due to work and other distractions I had never been privileged to join them, but the symmetry seemed especially appropriate this heavy evening. In a past life I had even taken a Sunday School class there in lieu of the sloppily prepared lesson plan for the day. I became at least for one Sunday a hero to a group of bored middle school students but that’s another tale. This day it just felt better than an overpriced latte and muffin. Dunkin Donuts is a strip mall stereotype, all glass, metal, brick and harsh fluorescent. It does not carry the too often pretentious ambience of Starbuck’s; truthfully it probably fits the preferences of a Trump supporter than a suburban liberal. But it has tables, and chairs and it has coffee and donuts. Sometimes that’s all you need. As the early evening commute crawled by and the working girls paraded their wares just outside the plate glass I ordered a medium coffee, “black please” and a cake donut covered in chocolate and chopped nuts. I spoke with the proprietor and listened to this Asian man express his own bewilderment and unstated fear of what the future held for someone like him, a thickly accented person who may have felt, rightly or wrongly, caught in the cross-hairs of President-elect Trump. I smiled and tried to express my sympathy via a shoulder shrug and told him about the high school kids on the overpass at 130th holding signs with little hearts and “love wins” written on them. A lifeline of hope, just as his lifesaver shaped donut was standing at the ready to bolster mine. I sat down and enjoyed what turned out to be the best donut and cup of coffee of my life. Three days later I’m still being buffeted by my own emotional wind storm. A few things have emerged though, that hope exists. It is there in the simple companionship of fear, anger, and despair. It is there in a quiet spot to pray and light a candle, or just light a candle if prayer does not come easily. It is there in the unexpected text from your child, asking after the state of your soul and assuring you that he and his generation are not about to roll over for hatred. It’s there in simple pleasure of life, a cup of coffee and nut covered donut. Our hope should give rise to both vigilance and action when it is called for. I fully expect that call to come often in the years ahead. Just remember to stop for a cup of coffee and a donut occasionally. Namaste