Friday, March 29, 2013
The language of Easter
Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I landed in Yei South Sudan, and I must say I have been doing well in trying to get my way round. However I had been missing out on Church and being Easter weekend it was pertinent for me to find a way of communing with other Catholics. Since my younger days, and then reinforced more in my college days, Lent period and Easter have been my most favorite seasons in the calendar of the Church. In the Catholic Church this is the period where you experience more of the interesting rituals that define our faith. The period between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday are the great Easter Trindium. On Holy Thursday we commemorate the Passover linking the old and the New Testament and more so the sacrament of Eucharist when Jesus had his last meal and hence the priests/ ordination. Most churches will have a mass in the evening, several activities on Good Friday (the crucifixion of Jesus); then Easter vigil mass on Saturday and on Sunday when we commemorate the ‘morning after’ disciples realized he had risen. I enjoy this season! That is why I looked forward to celebrate at least some these commemorative days by going to Church. I was therefore happy when I found myself at St Bakhita Cathedral Church. I had been informed the ‘Way of the Cross’ would be in English but apparently not. Luckily I had my Kiswahili missal with me. The congregation used the Bare Language and I followed using my Kiswahili version! Since this is familiar I followed what was being done and said, and even silently sang my own songs! We were together. Of course before the procession I started imagining what the priest was actually saying as he introduced the procession. He was courteous to say a few sentences in English. I always find it interesting when I find myself in a place where there is language barrier, but one thing is obvious. We can greet each other, may be by smiling, or waving, and that is understandable. We can also trade, using gestures where we can just indicate 2,5 …and the transactions go on. Of course it is not always smooth. This begs the question, is there a universal language? Even sigh language is not universal I understand. It was a hilarious moment in Kenya during the elections results announcement when Kenyans who have no clue about sign language started imagining what personal characteristics the sign language interpreters were using to indicate different presidential candidates. Some claim that there is universal language, love. A song that was common in my former secondary school Christian Union comes to mind. I recall some of the words of this song “love in any language, straight from the heart, join us together never apart. And when we learn to live it…Love in any language is the language spoken there” I am not sure I get all the words correct, but yes, love as a language that different people can understand. I am reading one interesting book called “ Say you are one of them” by Uwem Akpan who I must commend has a way of describing some occurrences in African set up that make the stories so real. One of the stories that he tells is based in Addis Ababa of some two little girls who loved each other so much as “Best Friends”. They went to school; salon etc together and even chose the same styles. Many called them twins since they behaved as such. They used to feel that the world was big enough for just the two of them. One day, the main character wakes up, not in her bed but in her parents’ bed and her parents were fussing over her. She did not understand. There was smoke and signs of burning in the neighbourhood. After breakfast, she asked as was the norm, if she could and play with her friend Salem. But her parents asked her to seat for an important discussion. “We do not want you to play with that girl again” they said “What girl?” she wondered. “That Muslim girl” “Best friend?” she wondered; as she had never referred or heard her best friend being referred to as the ‘Muslim girl’. After some violence had rocked the city, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ had become pronounced and as result these two girls were ordered never to speak with each other. They both felt sad about, each one wondering if the other missed her as much as she missed her. The girls would stare at each other’s balcony behind the blinds. One day one of them got the confident to come out of the blind, and the other one followed suit. They looked at each other for a while, and later one of them waved. The other waved back, and they smiled at each other. One sent hugs and kisses, by hugging herself and blowing a kiss to the friend, and the other followed suit. They were excited and happy, they had discovered their language. They now knew that their parents could not keep them apart. Well, well, isn’t language amazing! We all have our universal and coded language. That specific language; which if you are in a crowded place some occurrences will make you both exchange glances; that only you understand. For Christians the language of Easter is love. We believe that God realized there was no other language that the human beings would understand better than sending Jesus, the image of God to live as human and die like a criminal. While it happened many years ago, we remind ourselves every year of the journey from birth to death. Have a love filled Easter!