I have danced with women of many cultures – but never had I experienced such joy and sisterhood as in Manitoba, Canada.
It was going to be a long week. The six flights were booked, I had already lost my voice and dropped my computer and was feeling a fever but that is all part of travel. The organizers of the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference were a little shocked when I walked in, the keynote speaker, without a voice. I just smiled and whispered: no worries, it was late afternoon and my body had until next morning to recover and surely this would happen with rest.
Rest and recovery did not come. It was not that I was anxious or worried; rest did not come because I was inspired. The evening I had arrived there was a lovely dinner and a chance to meet new friends. I noticed on the program that after dinner there was to be a band playing for the ladies and a dance. In my mind I thought of the polite and ever reserved Canadian manner and wondered how many would actually get out on the floor.
Certainly in other cultures, women dance together and in some countries this is because they are not allowed to dance with men. I had been in these circles before, the lone large framed farm girl who could not begin to dance with such grace as her friends. The memory of it made me smile for despite my inability to move my hips in the perfect figure eight; that never excluded me from the celebrations.
I didn’t expect the same enthusiasm from a country band in rural Manitoba. I could have not been more wrong. The boys in the band struck the first chord and the floor was filled with dancing women. I was mesmerized by the freedom and the happiness of the women who were dancing for joy, and the enjoyment of those who were watching and listening.
I was reminded at that instant that there is no greater joy than living in the moment. There is no barrier to our fulfillment. There is no border that could hem in our happiness and no boundary to our sisterhood. As farm women we share the same earth and the same sky and our lives are intertwined with a unity that crosses all cultures and belief, classes and castes. Our lives are richly woven with a universal thread.
In a second I was on my feet – loving every moment and dancing for joy! The next morning God gave me a soft voice and a good sound system for the exact time I was on stage and then promptly stole it back. It was now time to be quiet and still, listening to the amazing stories and talents of others and blessed in the company of the extraordinary farm women of rural Manitoba.