Beans & Rice for the Soul

teaching, learning and living around the world

Makutano #1 A story of radical inclusion

I love the way my dad says GREAT.
With a long R and a huff sort of exhale.
He’ll say, “Ohhh, It’s just a grrEAT story.”

Like Invictus or Remember the Titans.
Feel good stories.
Inspiring stories.

So I invited him to share one of his own long-R-with-a-huff-great stories.

********************************************************************************

This is a story of radical inclusion.  I was a stranger in a strange land . . . and invited to the table.

In 2011, I visited my daughter Sara who was living in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I came with my wife, Marcia Call, and barely-teenaged daughters, Meg and Mattie.

 In Goma

During our stay in Goma, we took a day trip up to Kibututu, a small village where Marcia had served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1980’s.  Because it was not safe to travel at night, we spent the night in Rutshuru, a larger town a few miles away.  That night, we stayed in the guest house of the local Catholic Church.

 Meg & Mattie

The next morning, we went to mass.  There must have been 250 people for this 6:30 a.m.service, decked out to the nines, before they went to work mostly in the fields.  The priest, whom we had met the evening before, came to us as we sat in the back of the open-air church.  The priest invited us to participate in communion – no questions asked.  He did not ask if we were Catholic, which would have been appropriate, since Catholics generally have a closed communion.  He did not even ask if we were Christian.

The symbolism of being invited to the communion table without qualification was truly radical.  As the recipient of this radical hospitality, and especially as a stranger in a strange land, the moment was powerful.  In retelling this story numerous times, I have been moved to tears.

While I happened to have been a Protestant Christian all my life, this little event in the Rutshuru Catholic Church was the most profoundly religious experience of my life.  It is the closest I have ever felt to God.

That morning, we were also asked to speak to the parishioners.  Sara and Marcia, both fluent in Swahili, gave dandy little speeches.  I had been learning a little in preparation for our visit.  All I could say is, “Ninafurahi kuwa hapa. Ninapenda Congo.”  (I am happy to be here.  I love the Congo.)

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2 comments on “Makutano #1 A story of radical inclusion

  1. GWGA
    March 16, 2015

    Were the people in Rutshuru subjected to the war/violence that impacted so many in eastern Congo? If so, the radical hospitality may not have seemed radical in their minds; after all they’ve been thru, it may have just seemed to them like a simple gesture of kindness.

  2. Pingback: Makutano#2 Bits and Pieces from the Crossroads | Beans & Rice for the Soul

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2015 by in humanities, inspiration, life, travel.
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