The memories of staying up late during a summer when my older brother came home from college circles in my memory. He was a huge “Cheers” fan and planted a seed in me for the show. Being raised PK’s it probably was a little ironic that we would watch a show portrayed in a bar setting. I’ve only really stepped in foot in one my whole life….. to be honest? It was one of the most welcoming environments I’ve ever been and left thinking – wow what The Well could be that loving to a guest? They didn’t pressure me to buy any alcohol and invited me to eat peanuts and play pool.
I think we all long for that place we can walk through the door and everyone yells out, “Norm!”. One of those places for me is Java Dave’s. I love the owner and manager Renee who is one of the most hospitable women in our entire community. I’ve seen this place over the years with different management and she gets 5 stars! Almost all the employees are college students from RSU and she attracts the most diverse customers you could ever see. In front of me is a round table of business men in their 60’s, to my left is a Youth Pastor friend of mine, still further is a sales guy, still yet further friends of Renee that come in almost daily, and soon after classes it will be bombarded with the students.
A few days ago I walked in and 4 people greeted me from all across the place welcoming me with “Hey Ricky!”. I get to hang out a theater on Sunday mornings, but M-TH I feel like a Pastor of Java Dave’s. Last week I spent hours counseling with men, praying with others, and getting to know yet more. I spend about 15 hours a week here with my eyes on the door for anyone that looks like they need a listening ear. It has become a mission field. I feel safe here to be completely myself and long for the theater to become more and more like this. Toby Keith once wrote a song called “I love this bar” read the words:
“We got winners, we got losers. Chain smokers and boozers. And we got yuppies, we got bikers. We got thirsty hitchhiker. Broken hearted fools and suckers. And we got hustlers, we got fighters. Early birds and all nighters. And the veterans talk about their battle scars. I love this bar. It’s my kind of place. Just walking through the front door. Puts a big smile on my face, come as you are. HMM I love this bar!”
My prayer is that as people go out into the “3rd places”, home away from home they would be themselves and find love and acceptance. Our first place is our home, second place is our work, the other? Not sure what it is for you, but I know where mine is and I’m enjoying be a “Norm” wherever almost everyone knows my name.