I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you are in for a treat. Not only is this week #rituals FLASHMOB (exclamation point!) week, but today you get to hear from one of my dearest college buddies, Jen. And as she tells her story, she takes us to another land, to Africa, where she’s spending her summer. Be transported. Be transformed. And experience your own “Muchaka Muchaka” this week.
We all have rituals. I get that. But today, I can’t think of any of mine. Maybe because I am so incredibly far from home – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – as I spend the summer in Africa, living, learning, and growing alongside fellow teachers and many, many new friends.
Or, maybe because I can’t take my mind off the ritual that has been swirling in my head for nearly two weeks. While it is not my own ritual, I was invited in to the essence of “Muchaka Muchaka” – the Saturday morning ritual of the students at Agohozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), in Rwanda, where I spent my first few days and nights on this journey through East Africa.
Muchaka Muchaka has deepened my desire to return to life as a jogger. At 5:45 AM, each grade from the youth village met at their designated post to begin their weekly ritual of chanting and jogging alongside one another, supporting one another to clear their minds, let go of the week behind them and prepare for the week ahead.
Because I am not, currently, a jogger, I was hesitant to join. My fears of being too slow, too fat, too out of shape were working hard to reassure me that giving up would be my best option. Alas, I was more motivated by the curiosity of this cherished morning event, than my own insecurities. As I began with the group that was standing at the gate nearest my guest house, I was instantly uplifted by the level of communal support and effort that seemed to carry the group along the dusty road to the main gate of the village.
This is the only opportunity most students get to leave the village each week. As they chant down the rural roads toward the small village that lies a few kilometers away, people come out of their houses to watch, listen, and receive some of the energy the students are spreading beyond the walls of ASYV. Wrapping my head around this way of life seems impossible, so in the spirit of Muchaka Muchaka, I let it go.
I take in all of the sounds, the smells, the air, the laughter and smiles around me, and embrace this beautiful way to start a day.
During my inaugural Muchaka Muchaka experience, I was joined by a sweet 16-year-old called Agnes. In the spirit of the ritual, she honored the fact that no one should be alone on this journey; even clearing the mind can be done with someone by your side. She explained that at the end of the week, as their minds are so full from their academics, from missing families, even the ones that don’t exist, it is so important to let go of all worries and regain strength and clarity for the week ahead.
One week at a time.
Clear the mind.
Prepare to work hard again.
All within the context of community.
Muchaka Muchaka allowed me to step back and ask, what is it that helps me clear my mind and regain my focus each week? Do I have something that I cannot fathom missing? A ritual that allows me to let go of one week and prepare for the next? A ritual that alters my existence for the better; one that I can count on repeatedly? How about one that I can do while surrounded by others, sharing energy and love and joy??
For me, personally, attending church on Sunday mornings is my Muchaka Muchaka, but in Rwanda, the act of moving alongside others outside was too beautiful not to share.
So, what is your Muchaka Muchaka?
Originally from North Dakota, Jen also spent a good chunk of her life in the Northwest, although she now hails from Minneapolis. A teacher by day, she’s also a proud new homeowner, loves her family dearly, and is a friend to all. You can get to know Jen’s heart even more by clicking here to follow her blog. You can also become Her Biggest Fan by following her on Twitter or on Instagram. It’s Cara again: so, let’s answer Jen’s question. What is your Muchaka Muchaka?0