Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wadmalaw Island Community Center's First Gullah Festival

What a lovely event. Actually, I don't think the word lovely does the event justice. It was humble yet well planned, but the most important activities were totally people related and full of kindness and goodness. Something that is of short supply in these rushed modern days. The first people we met were those in charge of informing the newcomers about the Wadmalaw Island Community Center's effort to raise funds for their children's education. Upon learning there were two teachers present, they gave each one a generous handful of good quality pencils. Next we sampled Gullah food and a delicious fried fish platter and walked around the tables to enjoy local Arts and Crafts, as well as meet people from the Wadmalaw Island community. As entertaining as all this was there was more.

The best part was free. The people were courteous and friendly as well as talented. My friends and I were able to listen to authentic Gullah stories and a funny skit about clothing and pretense, told in Gullah, and all the locals understood it, but a lot of folks from out of the region as myself missed all the jokes. But the Gullah talk was playful banter and we all enjoyed that. There were four sweet children that did a skit on peer pressure and that too showed ingenuity and promise. Someone you could tell was investing in these children and leaving a legacy. Still the best was yet to come.

It was the old Negro Spirituals and Hymns. It was then that I knew I was in the right place and at the right time. It was then that, Miss Roberta began singing, "There is joy in your pathway Lord, joy in your pathway Lord, I don't want to stumble, I don't want to fall, Joy in your pathway Lord," with this deep beautiful voice while everyone there was clapping to keep the beat. No musical instruments, just Acapella and clapping to a rhythm which was enveloping. It was moving. She sang several songs and hymns with other ladies keeping harmony. One of the sweetest songs was," It's getting late in the evening, the sun is going down, oh Church, it getting late in evening, the sun is going down. Well Church, I hear the voice of Jesus saying come unto me and rest, lay down your weary head upon my breast..." I still get the chills when I listen to it. It is as if the words go deep inside your soul. Jesus is calling us to rest. He's got it. Just amazing to hear the fervor with which they sang. These Spirituals were healing, profoundly so.

God bless all those good folks at the Wadmalaw Island Community Center. It was a privilege. You are blessed, you blessed me, and I am sure some other weary souls, too! Thank you.

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