Batswana are deeply religious folks, prayers are said before and after every meeting, event, meal, and in the face of poverty and disease, faith should be strong. I'm not exactly a religious human being though I have faith, it's just more of a Yo Ho Spirit--a strong need for freedom physically, mentally, and spiritually. For the most part I've avoided all contact with Church, other than going to a few Crusades, and with the exception of going once when 3 mom's here came to the door saying “we love you, you are our friend, and we want to share our church with you.” How could I refuse such a passionately plea, so the Jew in the Lotus went merrily to church, sang with them, prayed with them, made them and the community happy. I know that God shows all of us mere mortals how it's supposed to be done, but it's quite conservative here, and there are few people like my host mom, whom I absolutely love listening to her unique spin on weekly sermons. She adds a touch of quirky humor that sings to my Yo Ho Spirit, almost like she's been in contact with the Dali Lama himself. She realizes that God is like a seasoned rocker who wants to show all the upstarts of what real rock and roll sounds like.
The past few weeks in our weekly school briefing, the head of school has taken the opportunity to take out the bible and preach to the staff. I totally get that she is doing this for a very good reason due to some recent events, to lead and inspire---but initially, it took me off guard, and I felt like calling Google and having them delete Mmathethe off the map---it just didn't sit well with me for the moment. But I quickly recovered, realizing the importance religion and God have here, and though I'm losing a bit when she flips into Setswana---the gist of what's being said is that when God says something, it not only gets things done, but it also carries a little momentum---and good momentum is what's needed now in the school. So don't be surprised when God works through you and it continues to grow bigger and more wonderful. The aspect of his character is built into the very fabric of the universe, and he's always taking people by surprise, always telling creative stories to illustrate a point.
In the way she knew best, she's trying to illustrate a point, she wants the staff to be respectful, have good relationships, and be motivated to be good teachers and citizens, but I'm looking around to empty faces, thinking that God fled the room, and realizing that there is no 5 step Program to getting God to show up or listen even with the beating of drums or the playing of flutes. But at that moment, a very wonderful, soft spoken teacher began to tell a story about losing a cow, and instead of praying for the cow to return, he gave money to several people for various reasons. To make a longer story short, the cow reappeared after he'd given up hope on finding the cow. People woke up when he spoke through his big smile, people laughed at his analogies and spin on what the head of school was saying, and I knew at that moment, God came back into the room, maybe to witness the more Yo Ho Spirit.
We're all born “free agents,” and whatever belief system you have, the universe wants us to take that free agent for a spin, to laugh, to enjoy, to do good in the world, to be good teachers and people. I think that's what our head of school is trying to say, and having a cow in the room just made the preaching a touch of out of the box, just like God likes it.