Coffee House “Church” – The Sunday Trigger

In their book, “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers,” Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter offer a brief exercise called: Sunday: Discovering Emotional Triggers. 

They wrote that “most people feel at loose ends on this day—even those who spend time in church . . . a lot of us tend to overdo it – overeat, oversleep, overreact. Sundays bring out the worst in people . . . Things happen on Sunday that wouldn’t happen on weekdays. So if you want to examine domestic dynamics close up (this being offered as a fiction-writing experiment for your characters), set some action on a Sunday and let her rip,” their writing prompt offers. They suggest you title this writing prompt, “Sunday”—and write 550 words, letting this Sunday theme serve as the trigger word for the exercise. 

For a period of time, a friend and I met at our favorite coffee shop every Sunday morning to write. We were more into journaling practice instead of fiction writing practice at the time, however, and I dubbed our weekly sessions: Coffee House Church. 

I agree with the two ladies; Sunday writing, fictional or not, is emotional. I unearthed the following bits from one of our sessions: 

Last night Porch Kitty showed up in the glider and seemed to be enjoying himself. He stayed longer this time than he usually does if he spies me peeking out the window at him. His wide, wide eyes always make me feel so bad. I always wonder what it is that made him so fearful. 

I didn’t want to him to get up and leave, but he did as soon as he saw me, and I hated that I’d disturbed him. He is welcome; he can stay as long as he wants, and I wish I could find a way to convey that to him, but no doubt it is too late. Whether he is simply feral—or was abused—the damage appears set in stone. Damn, damn and damn. Always the sad again. 

On the drive over this morning I saw the neatest critter. Sitting all alone in the middle of a vacant lot full of grasses, was a red fox. He was sitting there looking around as if contemplating his choices. Well, that’s what my imagined take on it was. And guess what my first thoughts for him were? Concern; worry on whether he’ll live through this day and not get hit by some car; that he was not already hurt and sitting where he was because of it. I will be watching for him on my way back home— 

The party last night was all that I’d wanted it to be. Hard work and Intent. Pays off. Always. One way or the other. Very satisfying. Everything is about Intent. That is the word to focus on: in prayer—in work—in play—even nothingness. It’s like intent takes you to the core—your core—and therein lies all the energy. Maybe you define it, but I doubt you can control it. Or—should I say—control the result. The expectation vs. the result. Can be a dangerous combination if not kept in a proper realm of perspective. 

Sooo—late last night that violence of nature fight you heard out in the trees . . . raccoons fighting most likely. The cry of a life taken so another can live. I hate that. Period. I can’t change that reaction. Having one’s cake and eating it, too? What a god-forsaken statement! Could be the ultimate writing theme, when you think about it. Ish. 

The red fox will be okay today. 

He will need to eat; you hope he is able to. You hope it is over quick. 

Today’s Gratitudes: 

A friend in a coffee shop

Hot chai

The foaming sound of a coffee machine

Acoustical guitar music

Quiet patrons

The sun

Someone at home

Elbow braces—and help to put them on

A cat who insists on saying good morning each day

In defense of the emotional Sunday blood-letting sessions, I don’t think I was any worse for the wear. It felt like I cleaned the white board for Monday. 

Give it a whirl; fiction or non-fiction. See what you think.

Harley Davidson Church

Sky Talk









This “sky cross” greeted us yesterday morning as we sat on our front porch discussing the planned Harley ride to Backbone State Park in the afternoon. Touring on the paths cut through the 2,000 acres forested predominately with oak and maple trees is a biker’s delight. Throw temps of 80+ degrees into the mix, and there is no reason whatsoever to stay home on such a Sunday. Read whatever you want into it, but I think the Universe was giving us the thumbs-up.

If you’ve never been inside Backbone Park, you are neglecting yourself. The park gets its name from a narrow ridge of dolomite and limestone deposits—“the Devil’s Backbone”—but there wasn’t a trace of evil within.

We exchanged the “biker wave” with dozens of other riders as we wound our way through the park. For those of you who don’t know about “the wave,” it is accomplished with the left hand down, off of the handlebar and out. You don’t even have to smile. That wave does it for you.

My husband does the driving; I get to sit on the back and watch people and the sites to the full extent.

I liked what I saw in the park yesterday: people sitting around campfires talking to each other, not on cell phones, but to each other. (I notice stuff like this!) Even better yet, I can’t tell you how many people I saw sitting off in the trees by themselves with books in their hands. Real books—not iPads. Not Kindles. Not Sony Readers. Not Barnes and Noble Nooks. Real books with front and back covers. I don’t have anything against the new electronic readers at all, but I still like paper-paged books. It was good to see so many others who do too.

Adults threw Frisbees back and forth while little black and white dogs napped underneath picnic tables, and digital camera batteries were getting a workout trying to capture autumnal moments.

It isn’t possible to put any sort of frame around this brand of “church.”