Schön, dass du da bist!
Can you hear the music? Can you see the happy faces, the warm light glowing through the window – just there, beyond the archway, across the courtyard?
Come closer, have a look. This is Cafe Impuls. It’s a modest location, isn’t it, here in the ‘Hinterhaus’, in the quiet, family district of Pankow, North East Berlin. You’d hardly have thought this place existed if you hadn’t heard the music faintly playing as you were walking home, although the name is painted boldly enough beside the door, white letters on an orange background.
But you’re not interested in the exterior, I can tell. No, I’m not surprised. It draws you in, somehow, doesn’t it, the warm atmosphere, the joy resonating in harmony with the music. You want to be a part of it. Well, come on then! What are you waiting for? The door’s open – look, someone’s come to welcome you already, they’re delighted to see you!
They’ve struck up a new song, now, the mismatch band at the front: you’ve not heard it before but it’s calm, exquisite, even, in spite of its imperfections. You feel yourself relax. Indeed, it’s almost as if you’ve left your worries at the door. It’s been a long day, a long week, and it’s a relief to be able to let go for a while, to let go of your troubles and to smile and to laugh with these strangers.
Had you forgotten that they’re strangers? No wonder! You are entirely welcome here. Let me introduce you, anyway: the tall lady who first greeted you, that’s Doris, she’s in charge and she is so wise, so gentle, you can’t help but admire her. The two girls beside you are working here just for the year. And the man on the guitar with the deep voice, the beard, the tattoos on his forearm – he almost looks intimidating, you say? He’s not at all! That’s Benny, he has an incredible voice, and he’s ever so kind. And all the others, well, they’ve probably come across this little place just as you have.
It’s a shame, isn’t it, that the evening has to end. It is late, and you must continue your homeward journey; but the darkness no longer seems so complete, your worries are lighter than they were, and the warmth and joy and love that filled the little café remain with you.
So schön, dass du da warst! You will come again, won’t you?
Cafe Impuls describes itself as a ‘Treffpunkt’ – a meeting place. It is a voluntary Christian project that aims to introduce people to Jesus in the city of Berlin, where many know nothing about him due to the East German politics of the last century. More than just a café, it holds a wide range of events, which attract young and old alike. I had the wonderful opportunity of spending a month last summer working with the café’s team, and here I have tried to convey the atmosphere that is so much a part of what it has to offer.
Find out more here.
Featured photo courtesy of Cafe Impuls.