I once went to church in Lesotho, Africa. The church had one room and folding chairs that the congregation set up on days of worship. I had walked by the church every day, and a young man with whom I had become friends invited me to join him. He was nowhere to be found, so I settled in between two strangers.
What happened next was something I had never experienced. The entire congregation started to sing, and soon, a woman stood up, shaking her fists in the air and sobbing. She started yelling and crying out, her anguish clear. She was speaking in Sesotho, so I had no idea what she was saying, but I recognized her pain. People around me nodded in agreement, and a few people put their hands in the air, swaying to the rhythm of her sobs.
A few minutes later, another woman stood up and started singing. I loved her voice and was delighted when everyone joined her, their voices equally stunning. What seemed like a few verses in, a man stood up. He was quietly crying, his shoulders visibly shaking. He kept shaking his head and putting it in his hand. The singing stopped, and the man started yelling. I was surprised by the anger in his voice, and it punched me in the stomach. I recognized his emotion too. When the man stopped yelling and returned to quietly crying, another women stood up and started singing a different song. Once again, everyone joined her.
We continued like this for four hours (and that was just half the service!). People stood up and bore their souls, and others stood up to sing to them. This dance of call and response was profoundly beautiful.
This experience is among the most profound in my life. It popped into my mind this morning as I drove in Los Angeles traffic, trying to remember God.
I reflected upon the Divine power of being witnessed and held. To love someone as God does, I believe, is to bear witness to them; it is to grant being to every depth of their soul. It’s to offer them comfort simply by seeing them—all of them—and not turning away. To love someone divinely is to step closer and to witness and to hold.
The gift is a simple one, and one we all have the power to give.
On My Mind Today:
- I’m ready to spend some significant time in Africa. She’s calling me home.
- Simplicity and divinity are profoundly connected for me.
In love and liminality,