Learning To Dance


By Katherine Young, South Sudan

I read somewhere that to be Sudanese is to dance. If you know me, that does mean I can never truly be Sudanese. But, there are two older women that I love to watch dance in church.
They usually sit half way down the aisle on the female right side. The tall one drapes her head and torso in a yellow gauzy  fabric, matching her wooden crutches. She sustained a femur fracture prior to her eviction from Khartoum, one of many South Sudanese refugees from the earlier decades of conflict who were returned to the south after independence.

The shorter one wears a used-to-be-a-summer-nightie western op shop discard. She relies on people leading her by her rough stick, her eyes clouded over by some malady. Yet, when the music begins they stand up, one leaning on her crutches the other leaning on her stick. They sway their bodies and bob their heads to the music, sometimes raising their hands up.

Old people in this country often make me sad. I can not fathom the amount of suffering they must have seen and endured in their lives. How many loved ones have they lost? How many times have they had to flee their homes  and start again somewhere else? Yet, these women are still alive. They still greet me with a smile. They can still dance. They can still give praise.

I stand behind them, with my rather more uncoordinated sway, nice clothes, peaceful childhood and money in the bank. Lord, can I learn to be like these women – to dance in my brokenness, to give praise in the midst of pain?

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