I walk here on Mondays, sometimes on Wednesday mornings or Friday afternoons. I’m greeted by a staff of folks whose names I know. If it’s been a while since I’ve been here, I look around the room and take in the new art.
Exposed brick lines one wall of the gallery and I sit next to a long series of floor-to-ceiling windows. I’m here to write or to work on a sermon. I’m here to imagine. I’m here to drink a soy chai latte or a pot of mint or green tea.
In the afternoons, the children from the neighborhood schools come to the LBP after-school program. They come, not to write and work on sermons, but to create, to paint, to hear about business creation, and learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
The staff interacts with them respectfully. The students get checked if they come close to disrespecting someone. They always nod and say hello. A few of them call me sir. I call them sister and brother.
One of my favorite people, Eugene Peterson, wrote that “The arts reflect where we live. We live in a narrative, we live in story.”
I’m glad to live near and with and close to Little Black Pearl. These good people are major characters in my story, if you will. I’m glad they do the work they do, host the space they host, and teach the children in this neighborhood. I’m glad it feels like a small family in the place. I’m glad they remind me, on so many levels, how to look for little black pearls. When I go home after stopping by, I remember the feeling, the holy reminder, that the children whose faces are baked like mine are, in fact, small black gems. They are priceless and valuable and great.