The last prayer said, the majority of volunteers gone, a group of about 20 people still gathered around the pastor remains, not moving. The worship leader strums her guitar, humming softly. The air heavy with the expectancy of something more. Someone begins singing praises with the rest joining in. Voices like angels lifting high to the heavens, sounding like church bells opening the gates. At this very moment, the guitar stops and the singing continues.
The people clustered together, holding hands on this blistering cloudless morning, the heat seemingly not affecting anyone. The droplets of sweat run down like rivers of hope on everyone’s bodies. The moment of complete oneness captured and sealed in my mind like a Polaroid snapshot.
The voices of one accord singing a cappella to God. University of Texas Medical Branch students, nurses, volunteers, and the homeless woven together like a silken cord on the dirty parking lot that appears paved in gold. Gold that no amount of money can buy, and many who cannot understand this threading of souls, bathed in the love of God who will redeem each of us.
He’s the “Great I AM” who meets us where we are, regardless of our choices and circumstances. The chains of poverty, regret, addiction, alcoholism, all burned up, leaving only songs in harmony, secure in the assurance of forgiveness. No king’s horses or men needed.
After about 10 minutes, the voices quiet, eyes open, faces are wet with salt and love, smiles exchanged, no words needed. Hugs offered as everyone dazedly leaves, aware of a holy encounter with God and humanity. I’m no exception, as I linger in this divine moment thinking about my summer spent every Saturday serving the homeless population.
This place has become a refuge, a port of call, and an anchor in a devolving world of chaos, where the storms of life quieted by a peace that surpasses all understanding. It makes no sense in the natural, this square lot littered with debris every day but one. The power of service color and economically blind when the feet and hands of love show up healing hearts and feeding bellies. The masks we have grown accustomed to wearing falling away, the same red blood running through all, revealing authenticity and equality.
On this boiling hot pavement, what remains is the remnant of a band of brothers and sisters who forgot their prejudices to become one. The walk back to my car surreal, like floating on air. I think how if everyone could experience this unity, even for a moment, the raw and pure power of redemption, we could call down heaven to earth. Wars would end, families would stay together, all would have enough to eat and a comfortable place to sleep, and our flaws would be transformed into beauty; beauty exchanged for the ash heap of our mistakes ready to walk in newness of life.
Come change your life Saturday mornings, rain or shine, at the corner of 20th and Winnie streets in Galveston. We’ll keep the light on.