Sounds of Retreat

A few weeks ago we were out walking around the Ripley Retreat Center at Camp Ciyanjano and there was a group of women from an Alcoholics Anonymous group facilitated by a Catholic community organization. The women were going through recovery and group counseling. As we talked to one of the women, we asked her how her time had been at Ciyanjano. She said, “I love it here. I want to stay out here and not go back home.” That’s the sentiment a lot people have when they visit Ciyanjano for a retreat, training, or conference. There are simply not many places for most Zambians to escape their daily routine or escape the difficult places they live. Here’s an example about noise.
Yesterday Tricia was teaching the kids about sounds. Part of the lesson was to walk around the neighborhood and listen closely to every sound and then to write down everything they heard. Their walk around the block sounded like this: sounds of workers shoveling dirt and gravel, slashing grass with machetes, trimming hedges, sweeping driveways, stacking concrete blocks, dogs barking, crickets chirping, roosters crowing, birds chirping and singing, music playing behind a wall fence, cars driving, airplanes flying overhead, feet crunching when walking on the road, metal gates clanking, sirens from the road, house alarms, lawnmowers, etc. This is all in a very quiet upperclass neighborhood. In the compounds, with a much larger populations, and close living quarters these noises would be compounded with additional noises from minibus conductors yelling, taverns blaring music, vendors, thousands of children, construction, etc. Believe me, it’s a lot louder!!
Today at Ciyanjano these were the sounds I heard: the guys talking and laughing while slashing the grass, a million birds singing, an oxcart clattering up the road and his driver whistling, wind in the trees, women singing hymns in the nsaka. So quiet. Amazing. It’s hard to explain to Americans, especially folks from Bellingham what it might be like to live somewhere where there are no parks, no places of beauty in the city, tons of noise, diesel fumes, burning garbage, ten times the amount of traffic than the city can handle. On top of that, how many Zambians can afford to even leave the city to go somewhere that is quieter or more beautiful. Ciyanjano is a place of where real retreat can happen. Where people can come to relax, to be renewed & refreshed. It’s ministry is that of rest. That said, I can’t wait to get out there!