Today was beautiful and sad. Like usual. It was our last day together and we took a trip to Kibuye on Lake Kivu. Pure gorgeousness. It was great to get out, smell the air in the countryside, and take in the panoramic vistas.
Then there was the sad: The genocide memorial in back of a little church. Kibuye is on Lake Kivu. It is not easy to get to, but this mountain town wasn’t lucky enough to be a stone unturned. There was a tombstone foregrounding this incredible mountain lake with the familiar words, “never again.”
The sad of gazing on the countryside for the last time on this trip. The astounding reminiscences of pre-Incan Peru. The bittersweet replays of our favorite moments on the ride home, sang over an anglicized Kinyarwandan military cadence.
I remember scoffing at people who before I left told me that the experience would be life changing. I remember thinking, “you don’t know who I am. You don’t know how committed I already am to the work I do.” Yet upon leaving I feel changed. I feel loved. I feel grateful in a manner so profound it’s hard to express. You have touched me Rwanda.
Here is a small piece of poetry I wrote over the last day or so in an attempt to articulate my thanks.
It is Agreed…
African Music pulls joy in pulses
Out hearts of Sojourners
Military songs lace cadences for improvisation
A dimly lit cabaret
With Magic biting bottles and slang exchanges
Nights of celebration bear bittersweet nectar
All my effort to stay here with you
And not contemplate this night might…
Be the last dance
Andre set the party on a chase!
Shoulder shakes with cross-eyed faces
The newborn Rwandan Drama class
Going through its nascent paces
Leagues of dreams with hazy shapes
Vision out a tear filled lake
I know the tools will take
That form will help articulate
Stories of joy, and pain, and grace
A cup holding an ocean of emotion
Your embrace like lotion
To our parched notion of community
I didn’t expect to find the unity
Within and between strangers—
It is agreed.
I’m left with a duty to fulfill
A promise to keep
Lessons to cherish
Work to be done
Relationships to fertilize
Sacrifices to honor
And a strengthened commitment to
Dialogue, collaboration, community and creativity.
Give me the courage to keep my throat open
To fly my song like a kite
To speak my truth
To break through my fear
And to build our circle ever strong—
Long as the equator
It is agreed.