Bubanza: We Danced on Holy Ground

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600 ID cards, a global tribe of givers and that hot day under an asbestos roof when earth was heaven.

By Idelette McVicker | Twitter: @idelette

All Images by Tina Francis

- Fact: In February, we, a global tribe of heart-givers united to give Identity documents to our sisters (mostly) and brothers in Bubanza, Burundi.  [Original story here.]

- Fact: We raised $7,212 in just over two weeks for 601 ID cards, or “blue roses,” as we started calling them. Many purchased bouquets of blue Identity cards for loved ones and friends, in lieu of flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

Fact: Just over three weeks ago, Tina and I got to be there for the handing out of the final 200 ID cards in Bubanza. We were there with Kelley and Claude Nikondeha and another one of our special friends, Rene August, from Cape Town.

- Heart:

“We are unstoppable now!” she laughed. -Bubanza resident + Identity Card = Citizen of Burundi. 

___________________________________________

I catch myself sitting in our Surrey home, still trying to listen for the sound of that Saturday afternoon in Bubanza. That roar–like the sound of a thousand smiles–plays in my heart and I try and listen for it through the past three weeks of time to that day, that very day, when we drove out of Bujumbura into the countryside of Burundi to spend the afternoon in Bubanza.

I never want to stop hearing the sound of celebration that hung so thick and hot in the afternoon air.

I remember getting out of the white Toyota and the moment I reached to open the door, the heaven-ness of it all, overwhelmed me. Bubanza was no longer far away over there. We were in Bubanza.

Bubanza. Right here.

Opening the car door–settting foot on Bubanza soil–that’s when the first tears came.

As we moved through the crowd, every child wanted to shake our hands. And I wanted to shake every child’s hand. And meet every woman too! I remember wanting to stop with every face and look deep into eyes, to speak love and sisterhood, not with words but through my windowed soul.

Children laughed and whistled and yelled and the excitement crescendoed. There was a table set up with chairs–for us, the guests.

As I walked towards the chairs, Kelley directed me to a seat–one of honoured guest at the table.

When I saw where she pointed, I shook my head. My feet stopped and an old story accused, “You are Apartheid’s daughter. That cannot be your seat. You don’t deserve it!”

See?

[Yup. Sometimes the ugly old identity requires a really ugly cry to shake it off.]

But my friend, who knew my heart’s resistance, nodded firmly: “I want you to sit there.”

I took a very deep breath and slipped into the chair beside her.

And with that, right next to the pile of blue roses, I received the grace of a seat at the Table of New Identity.

Next community leaders welcomed us, children performed and the women came and danced.

The place erupted.

Under asbestos roof, the women danced whole with bodies, arms, hips and hearts exuberant.

But it didn’t take long for the invitation, arms stretched out—Come, dance!

We were invited right into the circle of celebration.

I’d quietly slipped out of my flip-flops.

I didn’t just want to dance. I wanted to become one with red earth and stomping feet. I wanted nothing between me and the earth and these sisters and our declaration that this moment—this joyful noise and being here celebrating our personhood together on this dusty earth with fire in our overflowing hearts—was holy ground.

My feet simply declared what my heart knew: This is holy ground.

With a pile of blue Identity cards on the table and hallelujahs in our hearts, God was definitely in our midst.

Then the actual moment–could there be even greater joy–of handing out Identity cards.

Blue roses, fragrant with the smell of heaven.

“This is like a proof of being human,” one woman told us, holding up her ID card.

“We are unstoppable now!” she laughed.

This then must be what the Bible means when it says, those who give, actually receive.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

 What comes from giving of self and joining where God is already dancing? 

This exuberance and freedom.

This shaking off of old story.

This undeniable receiving of identity when you give identity.

This tasting of our own dusty humanity within community.

This must be the running over of Life.

_____________________________

My dear SheLoves friends: 

  • If you participated in giving towards our SheLoves Bubanza project–in dollars and tweets and prayers and shares–thank you so much! This mountain only moved because we joined hands together.
  • I’d love to know: When and where was the last time you danced (or sat or walked) on holy ground?
  • What old story keeps you from taking your seat at the Table of New Identity?

______________________________________

About Idelette:
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.

I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.

My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.

I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.

I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker
  • Nicole Joshua

    Oh Idelette.

    Your words brought tears to my eyes. As I read, I could imagine myself being there with you. What a privilege it is to know you, to (in small ways) be part of your story, to be part of how your story meets God’s story. MAy God’s blessings continue to multiply in and through you as you exuberantly live out your new story – a child of Africa!

    Love you!
    Nicole

  • http://aglowingember.blogspot.com Carolynn

    This is so powerful, Idelette, although I have to say, it was difficult to read through the tears. You brought this story vividly to life with your words. I can taste the red dirt on my tongue, hear the wild beating of your hearts in rhythm with the drums and feel the warmth radiating from the hearts and smiles of the women (and men) whose lives you have touched in such a profound way. What a blessing you are.

  • Sharon Starratt

    Very moving. I felt like I could hear the trilling and praises to God. I also love that you received a deeper healing yourself. Remember it is only God who imparts identity and destiny. Blessings on your exciting journey.

  • Daniela

    This was the best valentines present ever!!! Love you to the moon and back. xoxo

  • http://uwdecals.com Danielle Hardy

    Thank you so much for your words. Even though I wasn’t there in flesh, I am so over the moon to have been able to take a small part in this. Thank you for the opportunity. Don’t stop giving us the chance to help people around the world. Those women ARE unstoppable :)

    Off to grab a box of kleenex now :)

  • http://www.sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

    I can’t even see for the tears. Yes.

  • http://www.pohlkottepress.com tara pohlkotte

    this is my hearts joy. my bloods passion. to find this vein. to sink down into the holy and to dance, oh. child. to dance. this is so wonderfully told.

  • http://www.giraffesandladybugs.blogspot.com Grace Elizabeth

    This is truly beautiful, the image of literally giving someone hope. The joy and celebration they have at the simple receiving of an ID card. It is so inspiring and humbling!

  • http://www.clairejdeboer.com Claire

    My friend, I think I held my breath throughout this whole story. That seat DOES belong to you. You are leading many women, myself included, into a new place of identity, not just on paper but in our hearts.
    I love that you could share this moment with those women and I see from Tina’s gorgeous photographs how precious that moment was.
    Much love xoxoxoxoxo
    Claire

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  • Shilpa Samji

    “This is like a proof of being human,” one woman told us, holding up her ID card. (Humbled)
    Idelette, Thank you for sharing your experience. I have read this several times today and I am still blown away every single time I read your story and the beautiful moments captured by Tina.
    It is amazing to see how a few women are taking charge and making a difference in the lives of other fellow women, one step at a time.

  • ellie hagey

    what a beautiful story! I am speechless. So many memories of Africa came flooding back! I want to particpate I must have missed the previous story of raising money. Hope to be in your area the end of this month.

  • alie

    love . love . love. The story is emotionally beautiful ; pictures are incredible. I am so moved by the joyful faces of these women! What a blessed experience. And yes, the tears are streaming down my cheeks as well.
    xxoo

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  • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

    You have me crying at my desk this morning. So honoured to be a part of that joy. I could almost here the roar of celebration as I read your words…

  • http://divandmama.blogspot.com Jenn

    Stunnning. What seems like such a simple thing…to have such an impact. We all want the same things I guess, a seat at the table. To be welcomed and seen.

  • http://threeminutestonine.com Ginger

    Idelette, I will be going to Burundi on July 3 to be a part of a retreat for widows, sponsored by a ministry called Sister Connection. It was a joy to read your blog post today and to listen to your video. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what I can expect. I am looking forward to the holy ground of this experience, sharing with these women who have endured so much.

    Grace and peace to you.
    Ginger

  • http://biscotti_brain.blogspot.com Erin Wilson

    So much here to make the tears slip from my eyes.
    I celebrate with you.

  • http://www.neritia.wordpress.com neritia

    Idelette, this is such a beautiful post! Your writing takes each reader to Bubunza and we too get the chance to move to the rhythm of the drums…!

    Valentine’s Day 2012 – is probably my best one ever!

    Thank you for taking me on this journey with you!

    xoxo

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