With bus repairs completed we drove to our next destination, Sara and Ken Oscarson’s home at Reba Place in Evanston, Illinois. This was a Christian community ministering in an urban setting. Over the next two weeks we rehearsed, performed, prayed and made new friends. I was delighted to be reunited with my former housemother from Leelanau School, Annie, who lived in the area. I hadn’t seen her since the day we left New York City.
Parked at the Oscarsons, the bus became a gathering place with visitors coming and going at all hours of the day and night. As was often the case, our bus was a magnet for desperate or troubled people. On our third day there a woman named “Hilda” rushed in high on some kind of drugs, hysterical and on the verge of suicide. We prayed and talked with her throughout the day. She moved from staring blankly ahead to trembling to smiling to screaming, “I don’t want to die!” We prayed with her, laying on hands and assuring her of God’s love. Sometimes we sang softly and at other times we read from scripture or prayed together. Eventually, she fell to her knees, weeping and thanking Jesus for loving her. It was a busy time. We worked at the Reba coffee house, helped others prepare meals, painted the community's houses, baked bread, helped in the nursery, joined prayer meetings, and, as always, worked on music. At this point, our music was growing into something richer and more complex as each visit with another branch of the Church added new flavors and textures to our “symphony.” We drew from monastic plainsong from our contemplative friends at the Abbey, German hymns from the Hutterite brethren, and the Christian pop rock, which was pervasive in most of the church groups we visited. Added to this were the powerful influences of Indian and eastern music from our Loft days and the marvelous possibilities we were discovering daily in our huge assortment of exotic instruments and noisemakers. Somehow it was decided that we should wear costumes to perform in. We sewed full length brightly colored robes and we women wore long head coverings that reminded me of outrageous outfits from some bizarre nativity scene.