Pondering My Rwanda Experience Part 5


9,000 miles from home, I stood there alone in a church with eyes closed and outstretched hands. I had never heard anything like it. Heaven was on display this very moment. I know it.

How could anyone walk past this, hurry by, or ignore such?

How did I get here? This was not a part of that day’s agenda. And yet, there I stood, as my soul was being moved in a way no words could ever describe. It was like I had walked into a wall of something so beautiful and seemingly perfect.

If my heart had a hole, what stood before me was a perfect fit.

I grew up on music. I grew up with a father who was old enough to be my grandfather. Dad had more soul and rhythm in his index finger than many have in their entire being. Yet, dad never played an instrument. Growing up on jazz, classical, and big band, I learned to appreciate music of all kinds.

I miss more than anything going to visit my dad and just hanging out and talking while music was always on in the background. I always remember that when something special was happening in the song being played, dad would always stop talking, hold his index finger up, and lean in. Right there in mid-conversation.

Dad taught me to never let a song pass you by without letting it do to you, what it is going to do to you. He believed in the power of song. And now, so do I.

And there I was, a half a world away stopped in my tracks standing outside a backroom in this church in the middle of Rwanda.

Before entering the church, as my dear friend walked me around the building telling me about the surrounding area, I could hear it. The sound so beautifully resonated outside the walls spilling forth onto the street and the surrounding areas. No offense to my friend, but I was drawn to what I was hearing in such a strong way, that it blocked out everything else I was hearing.

It was like it was communicating to my soul as it beckoned me to come forth.

Upon walking into the front doors of the church, the sound grew louder as it echoed off the four walls of this large empty, but for the rows of benches lined up about, building. Coming from a backroom towards the front of the church, I saw it.

The choir, tightly packed into a backroom, were having practice. But, there was no way this was a practice of any kind.

Stopping everything, it was like I had stepped onto a moving sidewalk, much like you see at the airport, and began to move towards this backroom filled with a sound I had never heard before. Well, sure, I heard it before on a CD or something, but not here.

Not an African choir… in the heart of Africa. It was all too surreal.

Standing just outside of this backroom where the choir was singing, all I could do is stop, and in my own way and in my own heart, lift up my index finger, and lean in.

It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. The harmonies were so rich and so tight. It was effortless. There was no way this was a practice. This was an offering of sorts.

I stood there for what seemed liked an eternity. This cannot end, my heart screamed as I stood there with hands stretched outward and eyes closed. My soul was being washed over by the sound of angels as they sang effortlessly to a God who does not abandon. This was an embrace of sorts.

An embrace that perhaps waited patiently for me to arrive all these years. It had taken years for me to get here. One could not script this.

Not feeling well at the clinic that day, a dear friend from Rwanda had stopped by to say thank you to the volunteers and had noticed I was not feeling well. He then offered to take me back to get some rest. This was not on the agenda this day. And this was not the way back to the guest house that I remembered. It was a detour of sorts. Albeit, I know now.. an intentional one.

That I could be given that moment, I have no words. It was like a glimpse of heaven sent forth as a simple reminder to me in that there, every tear will be wiped away and that there.. there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

And how could there be.. in the presence of this?

And so it was, as I stood there 9,000 miles from home, all alone, but not alone. This was an offering of sorts, an offering that came in the form of an embrace.

For the past many years, I had lived life chasing light from behind the shadows. Never in a million years had I ever thought that there I’d be so far away from home, no longer chasing. Perhaps, in this, I was the one being chased?

Heaven was on display this very moment. I know it as I stood there with index finger raised and my heart leaning in. A message was sent..

I am loved.

Pondering my Rwanda experience.


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