stop talking

A couple of weeks ago I attended one of my all time favorite events in Boulder, hosted by Intercambio, where English Learners from different countries are paired with more fluent English Speakers to have a conversation.

It’s set up like a speed dating thingy, so every 15 minutes there's a cue to switch partners and start a conversation with someone else.  

I’ve done it 3 times now, and each time has been so much fun, but this last time was particularly memorable.

(I've told this story many times over this past week, so if you’ve already heard it, skip on down to the bottom of the hour for upcoming goodies, like Dog Dance at The Denver Art Museum, and Winter/Spring Dance Rituals).

At this last event, I was paired with a woman from Burundi. I started our conversation with the basics, as we are encouraged to do:  Where are you from, what’s your name, what’s your favorite food, etc., etc.

She wanted none of it, and instead dove right into the gritty mess of being a human bean within the first minute or two of us meeting.

We struggled for quite a bit, with her sighing heavily at my inability to understand, and rolling her eyes regularly.

She repeated the same word over and over again, with urgency and persistence, but I just wasn't getting it.

I finally thought to get us paper and pen so she could draw what she was trying to say (took me long enough).

Soon after that she began pantomiming in fierce detail, and that's when I FINALLY understood what she had been trying to say all this time -- that her daughter had given birth to twins.

We both let out a loud "WHOOP" and did a little dance that got us up and out of our chairs -- shimmying -- after that particular light bulb switched on.  We then proceeded to giggle uncontrollably for a full minute or two after we sat back down, re-creating and remembering her technically accurate pantomime.

The second pantomime was of her husband of 40 years, dying.

She pantomimed this event many times over, and looked at me and looked at me, until I took her hand.  

We ignored the cue to switch to a new partner and instead continued our conversation of barely any words.  

At the end of our time together, she wrote the letters of my name all the way across a sheet of paper, and I did the same, writing each letter of her name big and bold, all the way across. 

As systems, civility, and truth telling crumble at an alarming rate -- when I cannot breath at the enormity of it all, and when I imagine the worst of the worst -- I remember her named scrawled across that sheet of paper. 

I remember our fleeting connection on that singular night, and I come for air, and I breath.

Your Dance Mission this week dear heart, is to continue to gather with those you know deeply, and those that you don't.  Talk or don't talk, but connect, and make eye contact, hold hands as need be, and keep moving forward.

Even in stillness keep moving forward, with breath.

Even in silence...the same.