With the end of the world now postponed to October, perhaps I should not have been surprised when a religious icon appeared to me in the most unexpected of situations.

Holy Mary Mother of God appears in my coffee.

It’s a sunny autumn afternoon in Melbourne, Australia. The cool afternoon air is filled with the sounds of traffic, sirens, tram bells, and the mêlée of a thousand conversations swirling around and tangling with one another as people negotiate their path through the busy sidewalks.

I’m making my way to a little laneway café called Manchester Press. Its rustic decor is made from recycled machinery and items that look like they might have been salvaged from the former printing press workshop the café is situated in.

Once there I order my usual caffeinated fix: a cappuccino. Australians are pretty serious about their coffee, and as such, living here has cured me of my penchant for whipped cream topped coffees drowned in flavoured syrup.

I take a seat at a wooden bench that was once a large door, then get out my laptop in preparation for a couple of hours of work.

At the table next to me a group of girls are gossiping about some Facebook drama and a girl who “totally should have known that would happen.” I’m curious about what “that” was, but her transgressions are being drowned out by the blend of rap music and coffee machine harmonics.

My cappuccino arrives while I’m searching (fruitlessly) for a wifi network. ‘Ahmed the Second’ and ‘The Comeback Kid’ are interesting network names, but they’re protected by passwords much like the Facebook girl’s transgressions were protected by noise.

I look over at my cappuccino and I’m stopped in my tracks. Holy Mother of God! The Virgin Mary has appeared in my coffee!

I look around me. It feels like this should be shared, but with whom? The server in his red hat, the chattering girls maybe? I look back at the cup, moving in to examine it a little closer. Is the Virgin Mary smiling?

Maybe she’s laughing about the fact that the world didn’t come to a crashing end at the weekend, despite the forecast of an ageing American preacher. I suspect she’s in the know about such things, but as curious as I am, I’m not about to start talking to my coffee.

I snap a few pictures of the drink. I mean, it’s not often that a deity appears in your coffee. I shoot from this angle, and that, which draws sideways glances from a man in a suit sitting at a nearby table.

“The Virgin Mary is in my coffee.” I tell him. He nods and returns to his paper, probably thinking to himself that the world is full of weirdos and he’s in no mood to engage with one today.

I look back at the cup, pick up the sugar. I’m not saying Mary wasn’t a sweet girl, but I like a little lift in my cappuccino. Then I notice that it seems like she is wearing lipstick. Lipstick on the Holy Mother of God? I wouldn’t have expected that.

Maybe she’s loosening up in these more liberal times, and you know what, a smile and a little lippy is working for her. But wait a second, what’s up with her eyes? Is she… surely she’s not… it can’t be! Is the Virgin Mary winking at me?

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