At some point tonight, I’m going to go to sleep. When I do, I will sleep well. Not yet though. First, I have to stop my head from spinning. I’m not sure how to explain all that happened today at the Lion and Lamb Festival. I think the only way I can tell you about it is by telling you a story about my little girls.
Within minutes of arriving at Praise Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we were greeted by two little girls. Age six and five, they were delighted to see my two daughters, age six and three. The four of them became friends immediately, achieving immediate intimacy in a relationship in a way that only children can. The four spent most of the day together. “I’m in first grade too!” They worked on crafts together. “I like to color too!” They ran and danced and played together. “I like soccer too!” They relished in learning about each other, and sharing the things they loved in an unbridled and unpretentious way. For a six-year-old, there is no such thing as idle small talk. There is only genuine discovery.
As a cool breeze slowly transformed the sweltering day into a perfectly pleasant evening, the girls paused for a snack. They sat on a bed sheet in the field as Amy Cox played on the stage. I discovered Amy on the Lion and Lamb’s youtube channel. She was one of many musicians I had been looking forward to hearing. As she played, I watched as the group of four girls started to grow. The little community they created expanded. Soon there were two more girls, and now there were two boys. They were coloring. They were looking at the Star Wars books we brought. They were sharing cookies and apples. They were dancing. At this little group of children sat in a circle too perfect to have been planned by any parent. They each had an apple, and all were dancing as Amy played.
While Amy was playing her beautiful song, “The Table,” which I included in a video below, one of the girls noticed something out of place. There was another little girl just a few feet away. She left the circle, tapped the girl on the shoulder and asked her to come play too.
In this moment, the Table was not a table at all. It was a bed sheet spread on the ground. There was no bread and wine. There were apples, and grapes, and pretzels, and there was more than enough to share. There were soccer balls, and a big field in which to run. There was music in the air, and a Spirit calling the children to dance.
Lion and Lamb is not an event. It is a community. It is a community of people, spreading out a bed sheet, trying to figure out how to invite people to come, have an apple, and play.
It is Erica, a poet who spit her rhymes with a rawness that made me at one moment cringe, at one moment laugh, and at another moment make me bask God’s melody of creation. She challenged me to step out to use art to proclaim peace and justice, and taught me a new word: artivism. She inspired me to sit and try to write a poem. I was shocked, and a little afraid, at what came flowing out of my pen.
It is Bruce, an author, an Asian man, a father, and a grandson of a woman who did not know where to sit in a bus in Little Rock Arkansas because she was not black, but did not see herself as white either. He taught me another new word, microaggression.
It is Lorelei, who is training women to empower themselves and their communities in business.
It is Richard, a musician who is looking for songs that express a deeper understanding of God, and urges worship leaders to move beyond cliche and rote expressions of religiosity.
It is Rachel, a blogger and author who I admire and encouraged me to find my own voice by listening. In her talk she challenged “preachers who want to be the next Rob Bell, and writers who want to be the next…” and didn’t fill in the blank, ONLY TWO DAYS AFTER I WROTE THIS: “Can I be the next Rachel Held Evans? Do I even want to be?”
Tomorrow I am going to step into the speakers tent, and I am going to offer my voice. I have already been changed by this community. The plans I had for the talk I will give have changed too. Right now I have no idea what I am going to say. All I am going to do is throw open a sheet, take out a bag of apples, and share Christ’s love with anyone willing to play.