Hi! I’m Mark. I am one of the volunteers here at Daraja this month.

9am on every Sunday at Daraja is Spiritual Time. Three classrooms become improvised houses of worship—one for Catholics, one for Protestants, and one for Muslims. I remember discussions from almost three years ago in which we wondered how we would accommodate the diverse religious callings of our students. Spiritual Time has become the answer.

I went to the Protestant service because it was the first service I was invited to attend. I plan on going to the Catholic one next week, and the Muslim one the following.

The services are entirely, 100% student run. They pick the hymns, with singing and dancing consuming about 70% of the service, as well as the readings, and even hold an open forum for testimonials.

I picked a seat in the back to stand. I’ve been to an African mass before. I knew to expect the singing, and the dancing, and the intense passion of the worship. I knew I would love it.

But still. This left me breathless.

The music started innocuously enough, with one girl just sort of humming to herself. It soon grew into a frenzy of uniform melodies, with the girls absolutely belting out as loud as their vocal chords permitted, eyes closed praise. On the board, it was written, “Please sing as if you might die the next second. Thank you!”

My jaw has more or less been on the floor during my entire time at Daraja, but most obviously during Spiritual Time. Their unashamed, entirely un-self-consciousness left me enviable. There I was, a privileged white American, a college education and masters degree comfortably under my belt, swaying nervously to the music, and full of envy for impoverished African women who wouldn’t even be at high school if it wasn’t for Daraja. Does suffering afford some special access pass to faith? Because I wanted what they had. I wanted to believe something as much as they believed it, to believe it in my mind and in my heart and in my body and in my soul.

The urban legend goes that the human voice can break glass. As the music swelled to its highest crescendo, the voices broke more than glass. They broke barriers of poverty, hopelessness, drought, chauvinism, and fear.

I am used to seeking silence to find my spirituality. I look for a solitary tree under which I can read or reflect, or some other clichéd location. I like the quiet moments of Catholic mass, and the intimidating, echoed silence of big, empty spaces. Spiritual Time was the antithesis of my spirituality. We packed into the room and girls danced so vigorously that they had to step outside on occasion just to cool down. In truth, they were not girls during Spiritual Time. They weren’t even women. They were sages, ageless and beautiful. I searched their faces as they sang and found joy and suffering in their most pure forms.

I have never felt so in awe. I have never had to fight for so long to hold back tears.

It’s a two-hour service, and the time flew. In the second hour, I stopped analyzing everything because they girls showed me the value of under-analyzing. I’ve said it a hundred times but still struggle to accept it: true faith transcends rationality. It is not exclusive of logic; it instead supercedes it. Their faith was so obviously beyond the limitations imposed by rationality, and as such, was in full bloom. And thankfully, it was contagious. By the end of the service I too had loosened my constraints and was carefree as I belted along to the songs that were easy to long, and followed their dance steps, and greeted their smiles with a smile rather than a nervous smirk.

I had brought my camera to the service but immediately felt ridiculous for doing so. You can’t take pictures of something like that. So please excuse the visual blandness of this post.

If you really need a visual, close your eyes and imagine a miracle. That’s Daraja. T