Day 10: I Am A Free Worshiper

Worshiper: a person who feels great admiration or devotion for someone or something

I attended the local Anglican church with my Ugandan family for the second time today. The youth, ages 6 – 13, got to lead the service and Linda (the 13-year-old who has adopted me as her ‘little sister’) had the honor of being the preacher.

These kids… how they shined when given the opportunity to take the stage and step into more leadership. They stood in front of the congregation of a couple hundred people, wearing their bright red t-shirts and navy-blue shorts, and rocked out! A select few of them took turns taking the mic to lead us as they all sang, danced and smiled. Their voices, their confidence, their joy… all so worthy of admiration!

As we sang the words, “I am a free worshiper,” I reflected on how true this is and what a privilege it is: to worship as we wish to worship. And although my spiritual beliefs differ from those of the Anglican church, and probably many of the congregants, I felt a sense of solidarity with them in that we were all admiring these kids and giving thanks for the blessings we have in our lives. Whether we give God or ourselves or some other deity or source credit for our bounty and privileges, we were still joining together to give thanks.

While heated conversations about race unfold in America, here I am, the only white-skinned person amidst a community of dark-skinned people, having a new and different experience of what it’s like to pay white privilege forward; discovering how skin color can be an invitation for a different kind of conversation and connection.

I am also having moments I don’t even have words for, like when I see hostility in someone’s eyes as they look at me but don’t even know me; when I sense other’s envy because of my skin color; when a woman gets on her knees to greet me; when kids want to come and touch my skin and stand near me… it’s sweet, it’s strange, it’s beautiful, it’s awkward…

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