Having coffee with a poet and a prayer

 

James Brady with Natalie, a barista and the stuffed animals who serve as the poet's muses: Gandolf the owl and Aquinas the groundhog.
James Brady with Natalie, a barista, and the stuffed animals who serve as the poet’s muses: Gandolf the owl and Aquinas the groundhog.

EACH THURSDAY I meet with a group of ten ladies, women who, in my opinion, are the epitome of the words friend and Christian woman. Before we meet, I always stop for a quick cup of java at a nearby coffee shop. Brady’s is situated in the quaint Brick Street District of Tyler, Texas.

It’s the kind of place where one can go to sit and drink a cup of coffee while listening to soft classical music (sometimes a Gregorian chant) and admire unique works of art by local artists. Brady’s is the typical kind of neighborhood coffee shop where people convene to share stories.

Some bring their computers and read emails, get ready for their busy day at the office. Some sit and read the newspaper. Some gather to discuss the latest books they’ve read. Some come to Brady’s to avoid being alone all day. All are busy, but no one is too busy to look up when the door opens and give whoever enters a friendly smile.

While on the surface, Brady’s is a typical neighborhood gathering place; however, it is atypical in one respect: it is owned and operated by a Christian poet named James. He keeps a row of stuffed animals on a shelf over his computer.

Each has a name and serves as a muse to the bard when he is alone at the end of the day and writes. Inspirational books can always be found on the counter for those who are interested in reading a devotional or a word or two of Augustine.

Even though he is often in the small kitchen situated behind the front counter preparing whatever concoction someone has ordered, he has the uncanny ability to know when one of his patrons needs a kind word or cheering up.

2015 has been the year of goodbyes for me. First a nephew, a colleague/friend, and then a beloved sister passed away. Gene, my friend and next door neighbor, and I stopped by Brady’s this past week after spending some time with a mutual friend whose life expectancy is very quickly coming to an end. I don’t know if Gene and I were more solemn than normal—we tried to be brave and present a positive outlook —but James seemed to know that we were not our usual, bubbly selves.

We heard him approaching our table. It’s impossible to ignore his jovial laughter and corny jokes. He always has new ones to share. This time, however, he carried with him one of his muses – a soft, plush stuffed toy: an owl. Of course, we had to stroke its floppy wings. Then James walked back to his desk and held up the coup de grace of all muses: a stuffed groundhog named Aquinas. By that time, his audience had grown, and he told a story about each one of the muses.

Before we left, albeit in a much better frame of mind, James gave us the following poem he had composed only an hour or so before our visit. He also gave me permission to share it with my friends and family who visit Caleb and Linda Pirtle as well as those who frequent my Facebook page. This poem touched my heart. I hope it does the same for you.

Take Not My Heart

Take not my heart, O Lord my

God, lest I have no abode for

the Holy Spirit. He, who You

sent unto my heart, whispers

the Word into my heart’s ear.

Take not Your gift away!

 

Take not my heart, O Lord my

God, lest I have no place to

store my love for You. You,

who created me, loved me,

and sent the Spirit unto me

Take not Your gift away!

 

Take not my heart, O Lord my

God, lest You deem it my time

to return unto my Maker. Then

I shall not need this heart any

longer, for I should see You.

Take not Your gift away!

 

Take not my heart, O Lord my

God, lest it be entwined with

Your Heart. Then our hearts

Shall beat as One. Lo, I feel

Your Blood coursing within.

Take now Your gift home!

 

James Brady

April 27, 2015

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