As a thunderstorm rained down on the Andrews University campus on Oct. 14, a warm, inspiring event put on by the Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF) took place at the Forsyth House. A relaxed atmosphere and tasteful decorations enveloped the room where song, poetry and storytelling performances were held. Blankets were spread out in the upstairs room for people to sit and enjoy the performances while they munched on cookies and drank hot chocolate or tea. The room filled up and nearly ran out of space as people crowded in, chatting and happy, to support their friends and enjoy a relaxing social event.
The theme of the evening was love. The event opened with an inspiring story of a stranger’s small act of love and then ranged from deep poetry to good-humored storytelling and creatively performed songs.
A young man, Eddie Rivera (freshman, theology) delivered a poignant poem about liking a girl but not feeling ready to put enough effort into a relationship. He bought her a flower, but later regretted it because he felt he didn't have all of himself to give to her. We often think about what we get from someone, but not about what we bring to someone else in a relationship.
As Rivera succinctly put it, ”Love can't be a masterpiece if you haven't mastered the pieces to fit the puzzle.”
A lot of hard truths were spoken about the dating and love world. Some were met with cries of agreement and others with exclamations whispered between friends: “Did they really just say that?”
At one point a performer forgot a couple of lines from his poem. The audience tried to help by shouting, "It's okay, just go on!" But the yelling only further confused him and he had to start over. After they realized that they were not helping him, those who had been calling out got a little quieter. Closer to the end, Michael Nixon (Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion) and his wife told the story of how they met and fell in love at Andrews University.
One poem told the story of how a man approached a woman and presented a beautiful compliment, just wanting to see if he was her type.
She stopped him saying, “I don't date black men,” and went on to explain that her father, who had abandoned her family, was the reason for this decision.
He waited for her to finish, and then told her about himself: how he had been taught to never leave his family and to stay faithful. I loved this message about not generalizing your personal experiences, and recognizing that they are not the whole picture. Learn from them, but don’t base your life views on them.
Throughout the evening people listened but would also chat through the performances and a couple of times it got too loud to hear the performers. Even so, the BSCF Soul Lounge was an interesting creative space. I loved the ambience and the performances were open and soul-baring.