It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Kibeho Sector, Nyaruguru District. I hadn’t been to church since 2017. Since I was visiting the Holy Land and staying within the premises of the Kibeho Sanctuary, I decided to attend the 11 o’clock service.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to enter the Chapel of Seven Sorrows in which the said service took place. I showed up when the liturgical ritual, commonly known as mass, was underway.
The stewards had already admitted the required number of worshippers, in accordance with the guidelines put in place to curb the spread of Covid- 19. Churches are not allowed to exceed 30% of their capacity. I peeped through the door and saw members of the congregation spread out, keeping ample distance between one another.
I tried to follow the service from the rear entrance but I was kicked out by one of the aforementioned stewards. I should have been there earlier to book space and provide my contact details.
I left the chapel and headed to the neighboring hill of Nyarushishi. My destination was the Cana Marian Formation Center. The center has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic but I was allowed to access the outdoor area.
Speaking of outdoor, I think it’s a good idea to conduct services in open air settings during these unusual times. Well, I had my own prayer session in a safe environment. Yes, I haven’t been to church in a long time but connecting with my Creator can be done anywhere.
I have fond memories of the Cana Marian Formation Center. I used to stay there every time I visited Kibeho before Covid turned our lives upside down. I remember playing basketball alone during my last visit. As if playing basketball alone wasn’t strange enough, I did so on a wet outdoor court when it was still drizzling. What kind of addiction is this?
When I woke up in the morning of my last day at the center, I laced up my sneakers, picked up a basketball and ran to the court. Thomas Beller once wrote, "Running to the basketball court helps me to warm up but there is more to that run than simply warming up. It feels like I am running away from something or running to catch something. There is desperation in that run." I always feel the same way whenever I run to the court.
When I was running, other guests of this Catholic retreat center were gathering in the chapel to attend the morning mass. Shooting hoops when the rest of the guests were worshipping made me feel guilty but I kept shooting anyway. Father Leszek, if you are reading this, next time I will come to church. I promise.
This is not a basketball post but whenever I return to places I have visited before, memories of my last experiences are rekindled. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. By the way, I am selling these memories too. One of these days, my book titled MEMORIES will be in this site’s ’coming soon’ marketplace.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Nyaruguru is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda tours & Travel, The Click Creations and Exposure.