I lean forward in my chair at the front of the meeting room
watch the children who are leading
I decide to learn the feet first
and try to make my feet copy what I see
moving them surreptitiously under my chair.
Loose left foot
right foot to the front
and then to the back
with little circle twists
for the rest of the dance.
One of our translators told me
African babies are born with rhythm,
and my mind’s eye sees a little
brown baby being born
hitching his hips.
That was my first day at the widows’ and orphans’ retreat.
This last day
a colorful river of hundreds of widows,
heads wrapped in vivid cloth
flowing garments over their Sister Connection T-shirts,
walk the few miles from the retreat grounds down to House of Joy,
the first building on Mount Hope, the Sister Connection property.
They come to pray over every part of the property
and as they arrive they stream around House of Joy
to the drum beating lightly.
On the periphery
and look for photo ops.
remembering how the children did it
move my feet
on the edge of the dance.
A widow woman turns to face me
her hands raised a bit
raising my hands.
Whatever she does
And she ups the ante
challenging my small skills.
crowd circles close,
and I can’t do what they say
encumbered with my camera and bag.
“Give them to me!” says the director’s niece,
a big black woman visiting from Canada
and I do
and I dance
doing whatever my partner does.
“Jump!” that niece says.
So I jump.
“Higher!! Use your whole body!”
I do that too
feeling suddenly like I am flying
loose and free
in the middle of a
crush of clapping swaying
bright black women
facing that one beautiful woman
whose body mirrors mine.
Sharon visited Burundi for a Sister Connection widow retreat where hundreds of widows come together for worship through dancing and singing, teaching, and fellowship.