The coffeeshop is dark, and the stage has a brick backdrop. Christmas lights shine from the rafters (as they do year-round). An artist is painting a portrait near the stage. And one after another, brave people approach the stage during an open mic night to bare their souls.
A little girl starts by singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." The place erupts and her face lights up.
A 30-year-old raps about the power of the one who saved his soul.
A 50-something year old woman limps toward the stage. She shares free verse, mostly talking about the way the world perceives her. She’s been in a car accident and has burns over a large percentage of her body. I think she said 94 percent. As she begins to share her art, she springs to life, feeling like she's beautiful, no matter what others say to the contrary.
A man who didn't know he'd be performing, runs out to his car, tunes his guitar while everyone waits, then sings two songs about his Christian faith.
A boy who is maybe twelve takes the stage next to a man wearing a pony tail and stocking cap. They begin to lay down a musical interlude that builds. The boy is on guitar and the man plays the bass. You can hear every note on the guitar. It has no distortion. The bass isn’t thumping. Instead, it meanders — leading and driving the song. Near the end of their second song, someone starts to clap in rhythm. Others begin to join in. Soon, the entire place is one giant clap.
A woman reads from her book about her 19 heavenly babies and one earthly one. And we all felt like we'd been gutted.
A man who calls himself Jesus’ little brother (in the spiritual sense, based in Hebrews 3:1-2), raps about Christ.
A bashful young woman gets up, saying she read poetry last year and almost cried because it’s really scary. She reads a poem based on movie characters that she likes. As she does, we're all silently pulling for her.
On and on it goes. On this particular night, people who feel marginalized, defeated, wounded, frightened, broken, and probably a dozen other adjectives, take a chance by sharing their art with anyone who will listen. And you can see subtle changes take place in them right before your eyes. They feel less marginalized, wounded, and broken; healed by the balm of an attentive and loving audience.
It's a good lesson in the way we should all treat one another.