by Soul Places | Diane Ludeking
Creeping along the historic downtown street of Decorah Iowa in our little blue car, my husband and I search hopefully for a parking spot. The slivered crescent moon near the beginning of its rising arc behind the trees and buildings laughs at our optimism. There’s a group of people huddled outside the venue that is our destination. Their warm breathes rise in the contrasting cold of a late November evening. A fundraiser for two birthing clinics in Africa is gathering steam in the little space next to where they are assembled.
We find a place to park and walk briskly around the corner to see that the little group has disappeared. Growing hopeful that there is still space for us, we quicken our pace and reach our destination. Condensation has formed in the corners of the windows, threatening to conceal and make secret the gathering within. Gently pushing the door inward, it bumps the people standing in front of it. A truly packed room greets us, wishing that it could expand to hold more bodies. My husband and I squeeze into the little space just inside the door as the two young performers begin.
I guess that they are late teens or early twenties in age. Seraphic sisters. And when their lips part to release the first melodic lyrics, I am captivated by what greets my ears. Entranced for the next half hour by the sharing of their musical gifts, I am brought out of my reverie by a gentle knock on the door. Someone passes money through the barely-open door, ushered by the welcomed chill of winter. “Just put this in the basket.” And the hand and voice disappear behind the moist windows of the closing door. This happens several more times in addition to the entering and exiting of people eager to support the mission or eager for some cool, night air.
The naked folk music of the sisters is soon accompanied by the tapping of toes and voices from the audience when a song is recognized and well known. Guest musicians come and go, and then the parents join the sisters for a finale. Unable to take my eyes from the quartet, I notice the sisters seeking each other’s eyes as my own become moist. This is community. This is purpose unbridled. This is gifts manifest. This is where I live.