The warm acoustics of Nashville’s beloved Ryman still resonated with my heartstrings as I strolled down the late night scene of Broadway. Funny how my country roots and the urban pulse seemed to meld into something energizing. Strains of every genre mingled on the sidewalk, mixing a new kind of music on the dark air. Passing doors and windows, one song would grow heavy above the others and then give way to the next.
One set of floor-to-ceiling windows opened to a group of college kids belting the intro of an old country song, every line punctuated with laughter and dancing.
I found myself laughing and singing along, my stride now more of a line dance down the sidewalk. Then came a full voice singing ahead of me. I glanced his way as our voices fell in harmony. When I found his eyes, they danced with as much joy as his feet!
His backpack swayed with him. Everything he owned was clearly in that sack. His clothes hung loose and tired. He clapped hands worn beyond their years. Now singing full along with him, I returned that sunshine smile. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to feed him. But what I could give him in that moment was to share life.
He sang with increasing zeal, until one of the young men singing karaoke heard this fellow out on the sidewalk. Mic in-hand, the young man turned to us. For half a second I feared his reaction. The young man’s eyes met those dancing eyes, and he, too, returned the beaming smile. Without hesitation, he crouched down to share the microphone. I think my heart flew to heaven… surely I was breathing a little heaven on earth.
And so we continued to sing and dance, and at each chorus the young man turned to share the mic. At each verse, the two of us drew back to singing with one another. He knew every word. At one moment he just shook his head in wonder and chuckled.
I remember wanting to capture that moment and didn’t dare intrude on it with a camera. I wanted to draw it. To drink it. To savor it.
And then the song was finished. A lump rose hard in my throat on those last words. But the young man and our singing friend? They laughed together at the end. Resituating his backpack, my friend with the dancing eyes searched for mine and smiled thank you.
In that moment he had a home. He had a family. On a Nashville sidewalk. In the shape of a song. With people crossing gender, race, generation, socioeconomic status. We were home.
So where ever you may be in life tonight, if your heart longs to belong, know that it can happen in a moment. Because home is in the hearts of those willing to open doors.
Let’s open doors.