9 Aug

IMG_3760When we passed through this small rural Ethiopian town we saw a large number of Orthodox women walking in the same direction.  We were traveling a road toward a church which had been hewed out of solid rock many centuries before.  As we passed one group another appeared not far ahead.  The road was rough and we could not go fast.  We arrived at the church eventually; it was apparent that everyone was gathering for a funeral.  We took no pictures out of respect, but the crowd was enormous.  From culture to culture, when we bear one another’s burden, in sorrow and pain, community shares hope with hearts.  In this community, women walk together on the way to the church, the pattern of dress is consistent: coverings on their heads, white gabbies on their shoulders, long one stands out drawing attention to themselves.  Four out of ten of the women in this picture are carrying babies on their backs…family is important.  From generation to generation there is not much change.  Rubber shoes have replaced leather sandals, colored head scarves and printed dresses rather than plain fabrics, yet tradition is still the fabric of community, and community is the fabric of support during the difficult struggles in life.  Before they discard a tradition, they consider what happens when a thread is pulled and the unraveling begins.  On the other hand, tradition can also create bondage and repression through the fear of change.  Community that was meant to provide a haven of refuge, then becomes a prison.  The hope that could be shared then drowns in the sea of, “Endeza naw, beka!” (That is the way it is, discussion over.)

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