An Inner and Outer Reunion on the Soil of Africa
There was an inner and outer reunion that occurred while I was in Africa last December, 2017. Many had warned me ‘not to expect the same Nairobi, Kenya’ as I had known some 30 years ago. I had prepared myself, letting go of expectations, arriving–totally exhausted from a 4 day circuitous trip through Istanbul–but coming with an open mind. The moment I stepped off of our Turkish airplane early that Tuesday morning, December 19th, my dad’s 81st birthday, and stepped onto the Kenyan runway, the smell of African-soil -after-a-light-rain reached my nostrils; I was flooded with recognition.
Coursing through my veins was a ‘remembrance’ that I had not expected. “This is the home of my first impressions, this is the place of my earliest sensations. I recognize this, I am home,” wafted through me, not in thought form, but in sensation. A seven day ‘recognition journey’ had begun, an inner and outer reunion that I had not anticipated.
Repeatedly I found that the Nairobi Kenya, Africa I had known 30 – 50 years ago, was actually still there in sensation. My body recognized it immediately. The Kenya of Christmas 2017, now also included many tall buildings constructed around what I recalled of this capital city, many large billboards around the familiar city sights, and now included people everywhere checking cell phones! It took me awhile to wrap my brain around that one, people having cell phones; the Africa of my childhood was of a time when electricity was spotty and we read by kerosene lamp at night! Some of the visuals and realities of the Africa I had known, had changed. But the sensation of the land and of the people…was deeply deeply familiar. I had somehow expected ‘one or the other,’ to recognize everything or recognize nothing…so to find both/and was surprising. Recognition, particularly through my body, brought surreal felt sensations, as if in a dream state. The Africa of my childhood, with all the smells, sights and full body sensations was all still here. The rawness of the land, the sense of not quite being sure what might happen next, was still very present. The visuals of goats, donkeys, cows and monkeys roaming free, people coming up to our vehicle selling everything from jewelry to bananas…. gorgeous flowering bougainvillea … vibrant Kitenge and Kanga cloth the women wore and sold–ever so familiar…all still here!
The warm smiles, generous hospitality …and the Swahili–oh the Swahili, the language that went right through my bones; my first language, along with English–that I now knew only with my body not with my mind, but through a different portal of knowing. “Karibu Sana,” “Welcome! Welcome!” invited me into a cellular homecoming beyond words. “All is still here”…my body seemed to recognize. The deep deep beauty of this country opened up crevices within me I didn’t even know, offering immediate solace and solid groundedness; I have a home; it exists; I come from somewhere. This culture of abundance, warmth, and generosity…all mixed with deep poverty; the 1 million+ people who live in the housing area we saw on our way out of Nairobi…and all the 1/2 finished houses wherever we looked, with signs saying ‘we are the official’ church…or ‘the official school’…or ‘the official duka (store)’ …with 1/2 finished buildings and people mingling around. Wow. It is all still here! The sensation of both generosity and deprivation, land together, ever so familiar, ringing ‘true and known’ in me. My body remembers.
Yes…both/and. All is here, all exists, all is needed; all belongs. This outer ‘reunion’ brought such deep soul satisfaction reaching deep down into my bones, into the very root of the root of my being. As if finding a long lost soul mate whom I tenderly loved and deeply longed for, but with whom I had lost contact. What a surprise–what an unexpected arising.
The inner reunion also was quite striking; equally surprising. Immediately, on disembarking from our all-night flight from Istanbul, I was hit with a recognition of African sensibility. And immediately this landed in me as Wisdom sensibility. A stripped down to the raw truth, bare-bones living; a knowing that in order to survive, all have to do their part, for all are One. All are dependent on each other. Seeing is communal. This recognition caught me off guard as I hadn’t expected to connect the dots of my Wisdom journey while in Africa. Was this the reason Cynthia’s Wisdom teaching had landed so deeply in me and had felt instantly familiar and true’? Was it because this core wisdom teaching was encrypted in me already? Had I been steeped in these wisdom awarenesses from my parent’s knee, in our home at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro? Truths in sensation gleaned from my childhood in Africa. Was all this now being knit back together in me? Ha! It literally made me giggle…to think of how ‘at home’ and familiar Wisdom was in Africa ☺. The desert Mothers and Fathers’ ‘raw seeing and radical presence’ and The Cloud of Unknowing ‘naked intent direct to God’ were all right here. Wow! Who knew?!!
And to think that on this trip some thirty years later, I would be coming ‘full circle’ in Africa, through a family reunion celebrating my dad’s 81st birthday. Who knew that this return trip to Africa would bring about an honoring of the inner homecoming that I experienced when I met Cynthia, when the ‘bottom dropped out’ of my heart. In that moment I had known that I belonging to a larger Something, a larger WHOLE. Who knew this family trip to Africa would bring an acknowledgement of that inner knowing that washed over me while listening to Cynthia’s teaching that November Friday in 2013, a knowing that there was ‘More,’ and that ‘more of me already knew?’ On that day I was given the grace of recognition–I did not need to ‘be afraid,’ but could lean in and trust all that I knew. Yes, there IS a larger Something…a world perspective …a Wisdom perspective… a Wisdom Way of Knowing. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, this is the Wisdom that “honors deep truth over deep time.” And, this wisdom knowing is able to sit with and hold the tensions of our world in a way that honors all. Nothing is lost. All belongs. All is needed. God is here. All is One.
Little did I realize that to ‘return to the land of my childhood,’ was to ‘return to what I already knew in sensation.’ To return to the ‘root of the root of who I am’ was to return to both an external root of who I am, as well as to a deep ‘internal root of the root’ of who I am.
We are here. We are home. What we know…we know together. Who we are is inextricably tied up in… who we are together. This seven-day recognition journey became an inner and outer reunion. A surprising new arising birthed from this reconnection in sensation on African soil. My early Africa impressions–so deeply ingrained in every cell of my–have found their wellspring. I have found my feet. I have ‘come home.
All my heart can say is “Asante, asante, asante sana”–“Thank you, thank you; thank you so very very much…”
posted January 24, by Marcella Kraybill-Greggo