I went to Catholic Church this morning. It lasted from 10:00 am until 12:30 pm. I was raised Catholic, but no longer attend church regularly.
I found peace and comfort in this church today, packed with at least 500 young people. There were two mzungu American priests, so I was not alone. It is a round church and we sat on backless benches. We were packed in so tightly that you couldn’t help but touch your neighbors, especially as we sang in Kiswahili and danced and clapped.
Lauren will tell you that I get nervous sitting close to strangers. At the movie theatre I have troubles if I have to sit next to someone.
However, I loved being packed tightly in this church for two and a half hours today, the sweat running down my back, soaking me. There was joy. There was laughter. There was African dancing. Women would ululate regularly, sending something running up and down my spine. My Kenmore, New York St. John the Baptist experience was turned upside down. I experienced excited holiness in this community. This church is young.
I still have to concentrate very hard to clap and step touch properly with my Kenyan brothers and sisters in church. The urge to switch to the off beat is constant. It takes power to retrain my senses to this new way to feel music. The visiting white priest on the alter clapped on the off beat every time as I let myself disappear into the new rhythms of this more grounded, on-the-beat engagement with drums and sounds and words that I was hearing for the first time in my life.