Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Our church coffee house, the Urban Goatwalker, celebrated 20 years of ministry last Saturday. This video are some very few of the many amazing highlights of last Saturday's celebration.
The Goatwalker is an open mic coffee house in downtown Louisville that has been open the second Saturday of each month without fail for 20 years now. The Goatwalker is open to all, but was intended as a place of refuge, dignity and celebration especially for our more marginalized brothers and sisters. The idea was that it would be a place where the homeless, the mentally ill and others who are often actively NOT wanted, ARE wanted. They are invited in, cherished, treated as honored guests, and, along with anyone else, can freely order coffee, lemonade, home made brownies, cookies or other treats.
All our visitors are also invited, if they so choose, to take the stage and perform a song, a poem, tell a story and otherwise share something meaningful to them. And share, we do. The most powerful songs, poems, dancing and other performances come from our visitors and every performer is cheered and hurrah-ed for the treasures they share.
The Goatwalker team didn't want this to be a pity-charity place, where "WE do-gooders" do something for THOSE "poor, pitifuls," but where we are all on equal footing, able to order food and drinks, able to share, able to help, able to perform. And mostly, that is what happens.
God's kingdom come, God's will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
While this might sometimes lead to some strange and edgy moments, it is mostly divine, just divine. I hope the video could give you a taste of that.
* As an aside, while this was designed to be a safe place to share together primarily for our marginalized brothers and sisters, it has become a safe place for many others. Our church's children, for instance, from pretty early ages, begin to want to get up and sing, or tell a joke, or even to take a chance on learning a new instrument - a guitar, a ukulele, a banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, fiddle, cello, drums... - and share at the Urban Goatwalker. As a result, we have an amazingly talented and compassionate set of children, youth and, now, young adults in our midst. They also are frequently our waiters and waitresses.
My son and his elder band-mate buddy both were born roughly the same time as the Goatwalker and have grown up in that context. I very much attribute their compassionate and passionate song-writing and music-playing largely to exposure to the Urban Goatwalker and the witness of our more marginalized friends, along with the adults in church who have freely shared music and ideas with them over the years.
The whole idea of sharing freely has some amazing and sometimes unexpected side effects.