WRITTEN FOR THE LLANO NEWS IN LLANO TEXAS
Keenan Fletcher entered the front yard with her daughter Gillian, carrying a cardboard box containing two baby pigeons. It was the morning of our interview for this story. I had arrived at the Agape Haus Music Studio ahead of Keenan and was awaiting her arrival on the porch of the house. As she approached me, she told me how she had rescued, and was now nursing, two baby pigeons whose mother had died. She smiled broadly as Gillian showed me the pigeons inside the cardboard box.
I’d already heard about the blessed happenings at the Agape Haus. I had already
visited once and experienced some of that magic. I had already seen how Keenan’s positive energy could light-up the already spirited Fuel Coffee House whenever she entered. I had been looking forward to interviewing her. I had a number of questions. Before I could ask anything though, Keenan told me the story of the highly-popular book, “A Pigeon Tale”, written by Dana Wright and illustrated by Harriet Myrick.
Dana and Harriet are both closely connected to the Agape Haus and the book’s tale was inspired by a few of those blessed happenings there. In the book’s tale, two homeless baby pigeons, Paloma and Checkers, are given a new home by a little girl. I listened to all this as Gillian was now feeding these two new baby pigeons, themselves motherless but now no longer homeless or without someone to care for them. I wondered to myself if these recently hatched birds were actually doves. Yes, a blessed magic happens at the Agape Haus.
The Agape Haus Music Studio is a place of transformation and regeneration. “Agape” is a Greek word that is most concisely defined as “unconditional love”. The word expresses God’s love. “Haus” is a German word meaning “House”. It is used in the studio’s name to honor Llano’s German heritage. The Agape Haus Music Studio is a cooperative and evolving creation in which love, music, gardening and the gospel are allowed to transform and regenerate lives, the neighborhood and community, and even, of course, the co-op’s own house and the very land on which that house is situated.
For Agape Haus founder, Keenan Fletcher, the creation of the music studio is also a dream come true. “I believe everything is a gift from God,” says Keenan. “We need to be a blessing to those we live nearest. Hope is essential.” Keenan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the UT Austin School of Music. She regularly performs at Fuel Coffee House in Llano. She started a community orchestra and a chamber music festival in Marble Falls, where she also worked with the Harmony School of Creative Arts. Her dream though, was to create a music studio cooperative that would bless the community of which it was part.
Keenan was led to the house that would become the haus through synchronicity — or divine orchestration. She discovered the quaint but uninhabited structure three years ago in a neighborhood of Llano known to be struggling with the twin challenges of some low incomes and drug addictions. In mentioning the property to a friend, she learned that her friend was the owner of the property! They both realized the opportunity to transform and regenerate the property while benefitting the neighborhood. The Agape Haus Music Studio was born.
Agape Haus is first and foremost a music studio co-op — a place where any music teacher may teach music. Keenan herself teaches violin, viola, cello, guitar, fiddle and piano! Friend Dana Wright teaches piano and voice. A visit to the Agape Haus’ Facebook page reveals a strong emphasis on teaching music to children. Teaching is not strictly limited to music though. Julie Oestreich will now teach sign language to children there as well. Jean Golladay will begin teaching French, Latin and Spanish there in the Fall. The Agape Haus continues to grow and evolve and without a hard plan. Keenan wishes to keep the endeavor small and allow it to be led according to God’s purposes.
As lives have been changed through the Agape Haus, its land and structures have also been transformed. A shed on the property, that was once used as a drug house, is now the co-op’s chicken coop — thanks to the work of professional horse-jockey turned saddle-maker, Russell Barros (whose saddles have been used in the Kentucky Derby). Community gardens were established on the property two years ago and are now maintained by neighborhood resident Maurice Meuthe, who donates, or sells at low-cost, the garden produce, along with eggs from the chicken coop, to others in the neighborhood — spreading a community table of agape food! Hill Country native plants might soon be distributed from there as well. It seems Agape Haus is already being used as one channel through which its neighborhood — and neighbors’ lives — are being transformed and regenerated.
As mentioned, Agape Haus is also a place where the gospel is allowed to transform and regenerate lives. The Greek word “metamorphose” is used four times in the New Testament of the Bible — twice in the Gospels and twice in Paul’s letters. In the Gospels (Matthew and Mark), this Greek word is most often translated into English as “transfiguration”, while in Paul’s letters it is most often translated into English as “transformed” (Romans) and “changed” (2 Corinthians).
Two years ago, Keenan, husband Toby, friend Dana, her husband Todd and mutual friend Darrell Staedtler started a Bible Study and Worship Circle at Agape Haus. The setting is casual. A typical Sunday morning meet-up includes coffee and food, prayer, readings from the Bible along with relevant conversational sharing by any present, and worship through gospel songs. Many of these gospel songs were written by Darrell, who often leads the singing of praises with his guitar-playing. Darrell is a successful songwriter and one of Llano’s more famous residents. Outside Llano, he is best known for writing the George Strait number-one country music hits “A Fire I Can’t Put-Out” and “Blame It On Mexico”. His gospel songs however, are truly beautiful, inspired and inspiring. Here, the power of agape, music and the gospel synergize to transform and regenerate the soul, the community and the land.
Lest any should doubt that Agape Haus Music Studio is a place of transformation and regeneration, hundreds of hovering butterflies — nature’s most succinct and beautiful expression of metamorphosis — will sometimes fill the path leading to the house, while fluttering their invitation to the transformation and regeneration that emerges from within the Haus of Agape.
Agape Haus Music Studio
315 Navarro St.
Llano, TX 78643