Oil on linen, mounted on aluminum composite panel. 35 by 21 ½ inches unframed, 40 by 26 ½ inches framed. Completed 2019.
There are three Christian churches in the village: Anglican, Catholic, and Born-again. The born-again had recently moved into better quarters. Before, they met in the remains of a three-sided shed a short walk down the main road. Pastor Julius works in Kampala during the week digging latrines. Whatever he and his wife Grace can scratch together is poured into the ministry. He returned Friday night, cleaned up, and came to visit. Would we consider visiting his church on Sunday? And would I consider preaching? He thanked us for the bibles, prayed over my sore throat, and went his way.
Sunday three of us took off for the born-again. Down the main dirt road, left past the Muslim compound, another left uphill. The road narrowed and the brush encroached until we reached the new church, also a shed; nestled next to a mataoke plantation. My friend Eriab explained to us that if we are told church starts at 10:00; that means some people will be there at ten, and most will start getting ready at ten.
Gradually the families filed in, the mothers in their spectacularly colorful dresses, the children scrubbed and smiling. Men wore collared shirts and ties, reminders of colonial days. Grace was dressed more conservatively, as was appropriate for someone of her status. Pastor Julius explained that there was no money for musical instruments. What they had was the best they could do. There were fiddles made from carved sticks and baling twine, the mandatory hand-pounded drum, and rattles made from old metal jars.
Maybe that is why they threw themselves so fervently into worship. What they lacked in sound systems they made up for with personal investment. They danced, they sang; increasing the pulse, cranking up the volume. And the pastor’s wife was letting it all out. How strange to hear someone who speaks a different language speaking in tongues!
At one point I saw her sitting on the sidelines. Her breathing was barely noticeable. Her skin was cool and dry. Her eyes were half-open, unaware of her surroundings. Somehow I knew she had been transported to another place. She was at peace, if only for a moment.
The Pastor's Wife was selected for inclusion in the 12th Biennial National Art Exhibit hosted by the Visual Arts Center, Punta Gorda, FL.
The painting is on display at and offered by Dabbert Gallery, 46 S Palm Ave., Sarasota, FL, 34236. (941) 955-1315