Today is cloudy and the fog is very thick. I believe, though, that the sun is shining behind those clouds, fighting to come through and will succeed.
Today is dreary and quiet. I hear no noise of children playing in the street. I believe, though, I will hear them again when the sun defeats the darkness.
Today feels hopeless. Watching those lost in the debris of an uncaring world. I believe, though, the sun will shine so bright, that we will have no choice but to look through the darkness and be forced to see our imperfections, but also see our possibilities.
Today we will discover that we are the light that shines, we are the ones we have been waiting for.
It took a pandemic for us to see this misogynist who spews his nonsense of racism, sexism and homophobia. I say “him” because let’s be clear, it is those patriarchal stuff-shirts in the church that brought harm to her. But she is persistent, she is a fierce to be reckon with, she cannot be broken. She never came to harm anyone. Her strength is to always welcome all God’s children without any judgement. Her arms are meant to hold and protect us from the wolves that seek to colonize and assimilate us into a mind of greed and perceived power that has no backbone.
She speaks. We are listening and returning to her. Not in glamorous buildings with elaborate window stains to a face of a Jesus who they chose for us to see. But she has shown us her sons and daughters through the acts of protestors who stand against police brutality. She has shown us her sons and daughters through those who feed the homeless and demand affordable housing. She has shown us her sons and daughters through those who fight against voter suppression. She has shown us Jesus. Her children are many. Her children are powerful. Her children is love.
The church is not dead. She is very much alive with open arms and a great big smile, welcoming us home! And the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. Yeah, I know, the Peters are fuming!
“It” is taking too long. This was suppose to be your year. You planned to show up for your best self, to shine so bright that people would notice your existence. Your vision board even shows that this was it. You unfriended folks from your Facebook account and and blocked those you did not agree with from Twitter. You placed yourself around positivity and refuse to allow any kind of distraction to enter your space. The space you created was to be a space of creativity, of joy, where nothing, absolutely nothing can go wrong. How could it go so wrong? This was suppose to be your year.
Why would life throw you a curve ball now, when you have done so much to walk and move in your purpose, your destiny, your dream. “It is taking too damn long!”, you scream to the top of your voice. But to no avail, the clock doesn’t move, the days look the same, the seasons just past in its’ natural beauty, which you don’t notice. The image of the world does not match the image in your mind. Your mind sees possibilities. Your mind sees togetherness. Your mind sees love.
I don’t know what your “It” is that you have been dreaming of, waiting for, dying for. But rest assure, your “It” is still close by. Even, closer that you know. True, everyday appears that we wake to disappointments, too many to name. And yet, our mind refuses to give up, our dreams refuse to die. “It” pushes us to live. “It” pushes us to see what can truly be. “It” won’t let us quit.
God created in a space a world where God imagined wonderful possibilities. All of “it” God claimed to be good, then very good. Can you imagine even in the midst of chaos, God would stop creating? Of course not! God is still creating in you. You wonder why you still care, why you can’t stop dreaming and just throw in the towel. You can’t stop caring, you can’t stop dreaming, hoping, laughing, loving, being. God didn’t create you to stop. You, God’s greatest creation with eyes so bright, can still see a future how God imagined life to be.
I was born in 1959. I am the child my parents marched and fought for during the Civil Rights movement. I am now 61. And my children are still fighting for the right to fight voter suppression, police brutality, economic injustice, for my grandchildren and still, for me. Help me to understand why do we still have to prove that we matter to a country who will use us for her entertainment and investments but get angry because generation after generation, we refuse to be quiet, we refuse to give in, we refuse to sit down, demanding what was stole from us, demanding that because of us, this country benefits from the hands of our ancestors. Because of us, our blood and tears in the soil of the land produce fruit that provided homes and places for your children to run and play.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (Grandma’s KJV version).
There is this song that I keep hearing in my head. It’s an old hymn sung in many black traditional churches in the South during the Jim Crow era. When I hear this song, I see the old but strong men sitting in the deacon corner and the women dressed in their white, as they prepare the table for the Lord’s Supper. I see courage in their eyes and an unbreakable spirit. I have been carrying this song in my spirit almost every day. I’m so glad that I am hearing it because it reminds me to stay in the fight for justice and freedom. This song reminds me to never give up and to never back down. You may not be a religious or spiritual person or even believe in a power that is greater than you. But I hope you have someone, a friend, your spouse, your pet, someone who loves you unconditionally that will walk with you through these troubling times. This is what I hear:
“I want Jesus to walk with me. I want Jesus to walk with me. All along my pilgrim journey, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. In my trials, Lord, walk with me. In my trials, Lord, walk with me. When my heart is almost breaking, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When my head is bowed in sorrow, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. (J. Jefferson Cleveland, 1937- Verolga Nix, 1933)
It finally happened! Seriously! It did! I don’t know when it happened but that’s it! Yep! I am now 61 years old and I choose to not care what others think of me. Whew! For most of my adult life it mattered what others thought of me. I carried myself as a person who always smiled and people said, ” She is so kind” or “She has such a sweet spirit”. I met the needs of others by being what they wanted me to be. As long as I stayed in my place, did not make a fuss and spoke softly to the naysayers, I was welcomed. I don’t know what took me so long and it really doesn’t matter what or why, but baby I’ve arrived! Yep. It happened!
Now I’m not sure if I have said this before. Maybe?! Maybe last August turning 60 I said it? If I did, well, it didn’t stick apparently. But now, I’m sure. Don’t second guess me!! Now I’m sure that I choose to be authentic to who I am. This is the way I see it. If I walk around pretending to be what you want, then I am not only hating myself, I am hating you. Yes, I am hating you. I have lied to you. I have smiled in your face and pretend to laugh at your jokes. I have gone out of my way to provide things that you need at the same time blessing you out under my breath and returning the thing that you need with a fake smile and a dangerous graciousness that may have made you feel like you were on top of the world. And you fell for it. Oh my! That was not nice of me after all. Wait! You’re waiting for an apology?
This is what I know for sure now. After turning 61, you can not please everyone. You can not pretend to be someone different in order for others to love. You cannot keep up an appearance that drowns your true self because what will happen, is that one day, that shell will break. And either you will choose to live free, broken shell and all, or you will die never knowing how wonderful and marvelous you are.
I’m serious! This time it really did happened!!! I’m broken for the better and I’m loving it!
2020 could not get any worse. But it did. This has been a year of terror. Deaths of those who we admire, including 180,000 dying from Covid-19. My heart sunk when I heard the breaking news flash on the death of our Black Panther King, Brother Chadwick Boseman. How can my community lose so many this year to police brutality, violence, airplane crash, cancer, etc.? The figures that taught us to keep moving and fighting in the likes of Congress John Lewis and Rev. C. T. Vivian, gone at a most unfortunate time for us, because just hearing the breathing of our heroes gave us strength to stand. It appears that 2020 has us grieving over and over again. Like, can we please catch a break!
It is amazing how black folks find a strength to rise in spite of pain and anger. In spite of screaming and crying, we find a way to get up. We still grieve but we do it with a sense of urgency and purpose. As sad as I am right now, Brother Boseman comes and gives me these words he said in an interview with the awesome Trevor Noah discussing the movie Black Panther. The king of Wakanda, T’Challa says, “I don’t think there’s a villain in this movie. I think you have two sides of the same coin. Everybody is the hero in their own story. You should be the hero in your own story.”
Brother Boseman embodied the strength of his ancestors who provided him all he needed to shine in the purpose and story he was chosen to leave to a generation. What story will we individually tell? How will we show up in our own stories to be a hero or “she-ro” and provide to the next generation all they need to shine.
Yes, in spite of the anger and pain, shine in your story for the next generation to stand in power.
My best friend died. We are the same age. We often celebrated our birthdays together; only two days apart. Her birthday is today. When the news came of her death, I didn’t move, first tears came and then anger. Yes, I was furious with her. We had not seen each other in three years. I moved away. She promised to visit one year and then changed her mind. Our phone conversations were always about politics and theology. And yes, those two things, politics and theology, go together like wine and cheese.
The phone calls stopped. I would call and leave messages. She would not respond to my texts. I thought she was angry with me for some reason. Maybe for moving away? But others tried to reach out to my friend as well; her sorority sisters and her family members; her two brothers who loved her dearly; her lover who turned her away. My friend chose not to let any of us in with things that were causing her pain and sorrow. My friend chose to handle her depression alone. Police officers called to do a safety check. Placing her in rehab with hope that she could be saved. My friend gave up on life. Why? I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish she could have talked to me or found someone that would listen and not judge her. You see my friend was not able to show her authentic self until much later in her life. One day she decided to come out to me. “I’m gay”. My response, “Sis, I know.” That was all we said after that but I knew her road ahead would not be an easy one. We are both in ministry where often the place my friend would be judged will be the church which she loved.
When my friend loved, she loved hard. She gave all of herself away and this would hurt her. Giving away her brightness and smile, just so that someone would love her back in the way she so deserved to be love. All she wanted was love. The same kind of love that we all wanted when we are looking for that person, that one who would love us unconditionally, that one person who would wake up next to in the mornings, have coffee with, read the news with, grow old with. I can’t imagine that most of my life would be searching to be who and what God created. But my friend, most of her life, was in search of acceptance to what God had so beautifully created. A gay black clergy woman.
Today is my friend’s birthday. Today she sprinkles herself along the beach lines and dwells with the one who has truly loved her. Today my friend no longer has to search for acceptance. God accepts her and that I’m glad about!
Trying to live under the expectations of others will kill you. Pretending to be something you are not with the hopes that the person you are trying to impress will accept you is quite insane. I know. It does not work. No one gets hurt but you. As well as others who would have benefit from your talents and gifts if you were not chasing that one thing you believed you needed to earn some type of validation. Believe me, I know.
I know what it feels like to give yourself away. I know what it feels like to bow down to the thing that lie and make you believe that normal looks well put together, hair done, nails done, body thin, clothes perfection, flawless. Conversations perfect, home immaculate, family perfect. The burden is too much to bare, too much to give away.