Friday’s celebration was followed by a festival on Saturday, where the Twelve Tribes would hand out tea samples, dance and sing, and offer papers detailing the community.
In the morning I woke to Shoshanna telling me that we were heading out in 40 minutes. She asked if I needed clothes because she had some I could borrow. It was so nice of her to offer, as I had just done laundry the night before.
Yudith, a returning member, arrived the previous evening. She’s French and joined about 22 years ago. She said at that point in her life, she was lost like a headless chicken just running around.
Before heading to the event, we went to the house in town and members received a pep talk encouraging everyone not to be self-conscious when performing and singing at the festival.
I helped hand out tea samples. I grabbed several handfuls and had given them all out in about five minutes. I also walked around and looked at the various vendors, including jewelry booths and food trucks. I told the Twelve Tribes I was going to buy some food, but they insisted that I eat what they had brought along: pizza.
The community really stood out at the festival. I wondered how they felt, especially the children, being around sparsely dressed people. Some men were shirtless and many women wore shorts and revealing blouses. The night before, Rivkah explained that a first look is involuntary: you can’t help it the first time if you end up looking at a shirtless man or a barely-dressed female. But the second time it happens, it’s your choice. And in the community, the children are trained not to do double takes. Similarly, Abigail said there have been instances when she has had to ask guests to cover themselves up (ex: females showing cleavage) because it is a distraction to the men. Such attire is normal in mainstream society, so these guests don’t necessarily know better, she said.
Many passersby took photos and videos of the Twelve Tribes during the dancing and singing. They also came up to the booth for tea samples in cups. (Complete tangent here, but the cups were made of corn oil and were biodegradable, which is great.)
My admiration for the community grew that Saturday, because it’s challenging to perform in front of any audience to begin with. But to perform in front of people who could be quick to judge without getting to know them first (and they’re well aware that they can be perceived as weird) takes even more guts.
I also checked out the festival and visited the Manitoba Legislature Building:
The Sabbath was celebrated in the evening, and various members made reflective and inspiring statements:
- “I like how our choices are clear: party now and pay later, or pay now and party later.”
- “People who live for themselves are spiritually stuffing themselves with sugary donuts. Then they have a really full belly and just sit there.”
- “There’s no point in hiding our inequities because that’s the point of our lives.”
- “We can’t just live for today or the moment – we have to live for tomorrow.”
(Perhaps these statements lack context, but if kept in mind that everyone there is so devout and lives to serve Yahshua, hopefully these make sense.)
One member cried a little and confessed her insecurity about not being a good imma (mother) and not speaking up. I’m not sure whether or not anyone there felt awkward that she was confessing this in front of such a big group, but the fact she was able to do this shows that the community fosters an environment of trust where people feel they can be open and vulnerable. They don’t try to hide because they acknowledge that as humans they’re flawed and have inequities.