2 years. Wow.
It seems like yesterday I was returning to Winchester after spending 5 and a half months living the dream out on the Appalachian Trail. After some quality time reuniting with my wife and dog, we ventured out to downtown. She couldn't wait to show me the Cairn. It was almost open. I couldn't wait to see it either...and have a great cup of coffee! As we pulled up to the front of the building, my memories of a big empty room quickly vanished as I took my first steps into something that felt like the luxury version of my home for those previous 5 months. Beautiful stonework and reclaimed barn wood adorned the room and invited me in to want to spend all of my waking hours here. Little did I know that would soon be the case.
The next few days carried a lot of excitement as the doors were getting ready to officially open for the masses coming into town for the Pioneer Festival. With a handful of excited staff and volunteers, lattes with names like Maclear's Beacon and Steinmann were flying off the counter. Customers lined out the door, not only to try Winchester's best lattes, but to also see what in the world a coffee shop owned and operated by a church would look like. Having experienced churches trying to play coffee shop in the past with clever names like HeBrews and Jesus Java, it was hard to get past the cheesiness to even try to enjoy the coffee. The Cairn was different. It was designed to be inviting to everybody; to be a place where anyone would want to find and join community. Jesus was there, but His presence was in the excitement of the staff and volunteers and not limited to pictures and tracks left on a table.
We often get asked what a cairn is and why we named our coffee shop that. In biblical times, cairns were built as a landmark to commemorate that God did something big there. It served as a reminder that there was a need and God showed up. Over the years, the tradition to build cairns has remained. Today, they are used as a navigational tool, often marking the direction one is to travel, or to serve as a reminder that you are on the right path. We sought out to be all of those things. As a place for community to happen, we want to be the hub of where people can come, knowing they are in a positive place and where a path can be shown if they are seeking it.
When you look at a cairn, it is not just a stack of rocks. It takes care and concentration and precise placement to achieve the right look and balance so they can withstand the elements. As I look at the past 2 years, we have been built with a good solid foundation. Staff like Dan, Diane, Gloria, Marci, and countless volunteers who were a part of the original crew, laid the building blocks to start building the Cairn up. As more of us have come along, the Cairn has grown and continues to grow into quite the monument. It is made up of so many imperfect rocks of different shapes and sizes, but it come together to make something beautiful and powerful. You see, the Cairn is about relationship. Not only do I get to work with some of my best friends every day, I have gotten to become friends with a lot of our customers as well. This is the best part of my job. And as more and more people walk through the door, it offers more opportunity to get to know somebody and hear their story and hopefully add another stone to the cairn. As we grow, and continue to share stories and build relationships, the path becomes clearer. We are here to be a positive place and make a positive impact in our community. That is happening. Our teen center (The Rowland Arts Center for Teens) has seen more than 250 teenagers in our community, offering a safe place to hang out, be mentored, and learn skills that can hopefully enrich their lives. Every penny we make above our operating expenses goes to fund the teen center to hopefully put a lot of kids on the right path. Through your generosity in tips, we have given thousands of dollars away to organizations fighting sex trafficking, feeding orphans, educating women in poverty stricken countries, and giving many a chance to dream for the first time.
As we enter this next year, our mission to help everyone drink deep and dream big remains. Our work is never done. We will continue to do this one coffee, one slice of cheesecake, one sandwich, and one relationship at a time. If you haven't been in to see what's going on or just haven't been in in a while, let me encourage you to join us this weekend as we celebrate our 2nd birthday. All of our specialty drinks are just $2 this weekend. We will have live music both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. From the bottom of my coffee cup and heart, THANK YOU! Thank you for your support for the last 2 years. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for choosing to eat/drink somewhere where your dollar is making a difference.
Drink Deep. Dream Big.