Sunday, August 7, 2011

Can I talk to you?

Yesterday morning I went to the GoodFestival in Fairfax, CA, gave my bike to the valet parking attendant, and found my table under the redwoods. Spreading out african cloth, Children of Uganda brochures, and twenty necklaces made of recycled paper, I took my stand in a position of open-eyed prayer. The festival sparked into life around me as the opening band invoked "all the angels" (especially those angels who during their lifetimes had been members of the Beatles). From what I could tell, the theme of the GoodFestival was "things that are good." Simple painted wood signs were hung from the trees with slogans like "Let Go of Everything" and "Peace is on the Increase." Little gender-fluid children ran around in face paint and wings. There were so many good vibes in the place it could make you cry.

So there I was, one little table among many. Every table was a noble cause, from greening your electric bill to sharing free food... from healing massage to creative self-actualization through hula hooping. Even the coffee table had $1 books (of the meaningful variety) for sale as well. My table was next to a bunch of poets and "spiritual artists" selling their wares and trying to revolutionize the publishing industry. I stood there alone and prayed that my cause would not be overlooked.

Can I tell you about the orphan crisis in Uganda? 3.5 million orphans in a country the size of Oregon?

Can I tell you about transforming lives through music and dance? Our upcoming performance tour?

Can I tell you how to make a difference for the most vulnerable? Right here and now?

I sold lots of necklaces, received donations from a child's $1 on up, signed someone up for our mailing list, and met a fellow Uganda-loving muzungu (white person) who spent three years there making a documentary. Not all the conversations were profound. Many people were unwilling to engage farther than their eyes -- "those are pretty." I let them go on as they wished. But still I stood there, stretching out my prayers if not my arms, looking deeply into the swirl of noble causes and playful families, asking God and the universe and all the good vibes to rain down some blessings on Children of Uganda.

About five in the afternoon my energy flow started to run dry. I'd had some free organic ice cream but it didn't kick me back into gear. What I needed was the energy that comes from talking to people who actually care, but the crowds were thinning. Besides, the stilt dancers were commanding most of the festivalgoers' attention by the stage. So I packed up and got my bike from the valet. Coasted downhill to San Anselmo with that clean feeling that comes from accomplishing a goal. I felt Heard. Somehow I knew my prayers had been answered.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tabatha, just saw your post on fb; we have chatted in the past, but, as is often the case with "life" we have not spoken for a couple of years. I'm in Uganda with my daughter who is working as an intern with my organization (CEI)for the summer while on her break from college. We are in the process of purchasing property and building a Leadership Academy (thanks to a generous SF 49er) in the south of Uganda. We have 137 orphans that we have been caring for near Jinja since last year. Yesterday, we had a festival with the children to pray for the new property and I stopped as the children were dancing and singing.... and I remembered that my passion for the forgotten children in Uganda began with my visit over 3 years ago to the Children of Uganda home. That visit changed my life. I have been working with refugee children in Sri Lanka and Nepal for the past 17 years, but nothing has captured my passion as much as the children in Uganda. Thank you for staying with it. BTW, I notice you are in Nor Cal; our CEI office is in Scotts Valley, near Santa Cruz. Please stay in touch! Adam Salmon(sorry, the url would not let me post my link)