New Places, Down the Block

Reluctantly stepping out of the dark house into the burning August sun, after a lazy Sunday morning, I mounted my trusty red bicycle and headed south down 7th street towards the Smithsonian. There is a wonderful gallery of Spanish armour circa 1400-1600 or so in the NGA.

The instantly recognizable echo of brass and bass drums was completely out of place in the deserted sun-washed streets and row houses. As was the crowd of people dressed completely in white radiating out in small goups from the huge crowd gathered on M street. Out of place for me, because it was completely outside of my experience.

Drawn into the fray, I found myself in the middle of at least three brass bands, belting out soul-shaking music as if to topple the soul-less new buildings that have popped up along 7th street over the past few years, threatening scenes of community and faith like this one. The groups seemed spontaneous, improvised, but again only because I had no idea what was going on. It was quite the opposite – these groups were tight, and loud, and they were driven by an all-encompassing passion and faith that I can envy.

This white boy from Minnesota couldn’t have been more out of place in the crowd, but I felt completely at home.

I joined the crowd, stomping the pavement in time with the base drum that was dictating our heart beats. The event was celebrating a Baptism that had just finished inside the church.

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