Among The Silence, Breathing Trees

By Steve Wardrip


When I was a young teenage boy growing up in a small rural village in Africa, we all went to church on Sunday. We, young people, were very quiet on the way walking to church, among the silence, breathing trees, and very noisy on the way back, often running and playing. I was busy for the last month, collecting and selling firewood to the locals. After saving up my hard earned money, I went to the nicest store in the bigger village, a good way from my home. Searching for the perfect dress shirt to wear to church, I found a colorful, wonderful and expensive dashiki shirt. I thought, how fantastic, and how everyone in village at church would just love it.

I was so proud with my new dress shirt. I just loved the feeling it gave me.

My cousin Dicky HopHop came by my house and I said, “Come in the bedroom. I’ve got something to show you that’s in my closet.”

I opened the door and pulled out the new dashiki shirt. His eyes got so big! I was so proud to show off my new garment. It was just so perfect and clean, new and nice! He smiled and showed his approval with a thumbs up! I was so happy. I told him I was saving it for a very special occasion and would wear it to church. My cousin and I are very, very close, like brothers, actually.

Sunday rolled around and I did not wear the new dashiki this day, saving it for that special occasion. I always sang in the church choir and this particular service, I was to sing a solo song. I was a bit nervous and it took all my concentration to make it through the song without messing up. The music started and the choir leader introduced me. I started singing, there were smiles in the congregation and I was happy that it was going well. I was nervous but I was focused on getting it right.

About that time, my cousin, Dicky, came walking into the church and sat down on the front row and smiled a big grin at me. He was wearing my brand new dashiki shirt! Needless to say, I had a difficult time finishing singing the song. After church, let’s just say, I chased my cousin, caught my cousin and ripped the new dashiki in half, tearing it from his frail body. We didn’t speak for a while.

That was many years ago and my cousin lives far from me because I moved away and haven’t been back since. He called once, I think and I was busy.

I’m glad I caught him and got my dashiki back. He wasn’t so glad. My cousin ended up selling firewood and I wound up selling dashikis in another town. The name of my clothing store is “Special Occassions Fine Clothing.”

You should see me in church, and by the way, every Sunday, I wear a new dashiki.

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