Back in May I got to attend the Amahoro gathering in Uganda, together with some of the wonderful She Loves ladies. I had late night conversations with my roomie Teen; we called the ever-brave Leigh when we had ghekko “issues”; and we spent an incredible four days at Kelley’s beautiful home in Burundi.
One of the highlights for me was the Writing Track every afternoon at the gathering, when Idelette and Claire coaxed us out of our writing shells, put us to work with pen and paper, and where tears and laughter were shared.
I listened in awe to the words that were read aloud each day, marvelling that I was allowed the privilege of hearing these stories, sometimes for the first time ever told. But I didn’t stand up and read myself. I wasn’t sure it was ok. I wasn’t sure I was brave enough.
Until the last day, when we were given the prompt, “I am from…” and finally I stood and I read my words and – shock horror – no one laughed, I was not banished. My words entered that same safe space that had existed all week. I felt heard and seen. It’s an incredible feeling.
Here’s my contribution, started in a room full of inspiring people overlooking Lake Victoria, finished late this evening at my own little turquoise desk…
I am from.
I am from a wooden stool at the counter, weighing the flour, rubbing the butter, stirring the batter.
I am from the yellowed recipe cards handed down across generations.
I am from the heavy comfort of toad-in-the-hole, and bread and butter pudding.
I am from my mother’s hugs and her reminders, “you’re gorgeous”.
I am from my dad’s height, his carefree crazy living room dances.
I’m from practical and rational and “putting things in a safe place”.
I am from afternoon tea and scones, I’m from always having a biscuit with your tea.
I’m from haggis and heather-clad hills, I’m from country lanes and long summer nights,
unlocked doors and bare feet days.
I am from conversations outside the school gate and greetings in back lanes.
I am from the little sister who grew up to become my best friend.
I am from close-knit family and adopted big brothers.
I am from parties that no one came to.
I’m from ancient hymns rising up in an ancient church.
I’m from hands raised in a tent of thousands.
I am from heated conversations across Sunday lunch on doctrine and form and truth.
I’m from all the women who ever stood up before me and preached the word on their tongue and heart.
I’m from my mama’s courage.
I am from always knowing it started – it starts – with love.
Photo by the oh-so-talented Tina Francis.