Last night, DH drug me to a drum circle. (Ok, maybe not drug-- it was a beautiful night, and the Fourth Friday celebration downtown is always lots of fun.) Before you get a funny image of a traditional drum circle with the fire dancers and all that, this is not one of those. It's held downtown in what used to be the markethouse-- just good, clean fun. Not being terribly musical (read: uh, God definitely didn't give me any musical talent), I was prepared to go and watch and be a good sport of a wife while my husband beat his little heart out. But I forgot how much I love drum circles.
The children's home where I worked during my first call held quarterly drum circles. This man with lots and lots of drums and percussion instruments would come and help the kids get started. And without fail, these angry, beligerent, lovely young folks were transformed into mesmerized musicians. It was a miracle to behold. But that's not why I loved them (or apparently love them still).
I love them because of the community aspect they bring. All the instruments are held in common and are available for all to use. Even the little girl who couldn't quite hold the djembe upright and sent it crashing to the concrete floor, as my husband watch happen to his. But that's just part of it. Because there's a very deep sense that all are on equal footing and that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, from the most experienced to the least, has something to offer and add. No one's instrumments are too good or precious to be used by all (though I suspect that the rare gems of instrumments were left at home.) Kids didn't have their hands swatted away, nor did they hear, "Don't touch that!"
Drum circles draw out the best in everyone, because everyone can find a place-- even awkward flute kid who might have been lacking in social skills, even the slightly greasy looking teenager who came and parked his bike in the middle of the gathering, even rhythmically challenged me. (And had I not been having a completely lovely time taking pictures, I might have even been brave enough to join in.)
There was something holy about that group of people that were otherwise strangers. Some were business-folk, some were radio guys, some were middle aged and very well dressed women. But all heard a common beat emerge as lots of collective beats became one. And all who found themselves drawn together by that beat were welcomed and discovered that they had a valuable place in the ongoing song.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.