Over the summer, I attended a conference in American Samoa – a quite spectacularly beautiful place! The people are wonderful –extraordinarily generous. We had to buy extra suitcases to cope with the quantity of gifts we were given!
And everywhere we went there was music and dancing. In the close-knit communities, everybody dances. Because they have done so all their lives, they reach highly professional standards that would be perfectly at home in the West End or on Broadway.
The whole experience was full of an energy, excitement and joy that was completely contagious. We were quite naturally caught up in the colour and the movement, and the driving rhythms. Every community had its own costumes and its own style, and each dance was more spectacular than the last.
It was mostly the young men and women who were dancing. But, amazingly, among the leaping bodies and stamping feet were little children, toddlers, really. The children were not nuisances, getting in the way, but learners. They were dressed in the village colours, and were trying out the movements.
Standing in the lines, they would look up at the adults, trying to copy them, but without the length of experience or the bodily agility to do so. And the adults, as they executed dazzlingly intricate manoeuvres, took care of the children in their midst
So that’s how they get so professional, I thought. They really do start young. The dancing passes on not only the steps of the dance, but also a tremendous pride in Samoan identity, and a whole range of values, including the joyful generosity I have already mentioned.
God who made us, thank you for the rich variety of human culture. Help us to honour all that is good in each other’s worlds. Amen.