Oops! There it is!

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!

Wakanda Forever!

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.

Wakanda Forever!

Happy Birthday Friend!

Photo by Kevin Menajang on Pexels.com

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!

Happy Birthday my dear friend!

Choose Well

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.

Finally! I choose me.

Peace

Peace starts within. Peace cannot be found in material things. Peace cannot be found in the most splendid of a vacation, though I must say, it would be nice to relax on a lovely island right about now. Sorry, I digress. Peace is the ultimate gift that some will go to the end of the earth to search for but will not find it. Peace is what we are all wanting to experience during this time in our history. Would you be surprise to know that this peace that I speak of already resides in you? Yes, in you! If you have taken a yoga class or participated in meditating, the first thing you learn is to how to breathe, close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Yes, your breath. There is this soothing sensation that as you are experiencing your breath for the first time it is like your being is aware that your presence on this earth has a purpose. Your being on this earth is required for others to breathe, for others to find peace.

Before he was murdered, Jesus prepared his disciples for what they were about to experience. He tells them, “Peace I leave with you; then almost at a second thought, as to say no, that’s not enough, he then says, “my peace I give to you.” For someone knowing he is about to be murdered, Jesus turns inwardly and blesses those whom he loved. I believe as George Floyd breathe his last breath, he too, by calling out to his mother, turns inwardly and offers his peace to those whom he loved.

Imagine a world that speaks peace before a weapon is raised. Imagine a world that breathes out peace instead of greed. Imagine the world breathing in unison, aware of our collective breaths being present to give instead of take. Imagine the earth renewing herself, because we breathe life into her. Imagine a world that realizes our collective peace have the power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. Yes, our peace, this peace which is a gift from God. This kind of peace you cannot get from the world. It’s impossible. In fact Jesus says to his disciples, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” This kind of peace is already in you.

So today, take a moment, close your eyes, breathe peace into your space, then breathe peace out in the world. Let’s make this place better. God is depending on me and you! Let’s not let her down!

Rev. Jacqui Pinkney

So ready for this to be over!

“How long O Lord!?” I’m not the prophet, Habakkuk in the Old Testament, but I sure understood his frustration with all the insane things happening in his nation! He is a prophet I can admire, all of his transparency on full view who is not concern that because of his status as prophet he should appear stoic and together before the people of God, but instead felt like so many of us, lost, scared and angry.

For over four months we have forced ourselves to put on smiles. We have adjusted or minds and bodies to accept a new way of being. We have admitted that some people in our households really do get on our last nerves. We have not allowed ourselves to grieve because, hey, we are adults, with careers, mortgages, little children and ego. I mean, what would it look like to the neighbors if we lose it?! Seriously, what would it look like? It would look like an act of love. It would look like giving your neighbor the permission to cry in your arms, it would look like allowing the neighbor a couple of doors down to admit that they are not strong. It would look like neighbors coming together for the common goal to be well…to stop pretending…and be well. It would look like an ass-kicking community that refuses to look perfect. Prophets talking to God, being honest and humble, admitting that we need help.

In Habakkuk day it was the people, who because of their egos, created an environment that brought havoc in their land; that even pushed God away. An environment that allowed one to be concern only for oneself. This prophet cries out for them. Can we cry out for ourselves and for each other? When we are selfish, we cannot survive. It does not matter any way you slice it, when we are only concern with our own little piece of earth, we lose our ability to cry out for each other and even sadly, for ourselves. We lose the ability to live life well. We miss the joy of using our talents to create what God has so ordained us to do…take care of the earth, take care of each other. We push God away.

Our help comes from each other. Our help comes from the caring that we show and allowing each other to be able to scream and get angry, not towards each other, not towards God, but towards hatred, sickness, inequity, homelessness, hunger, poverty…that maybe when we ball up our fist together, we come together to gather ideas to make life better for all, to create a world where because of our frustrations with those things that divide us, that frustration leads to good change, because we are so ready for it to be over!

Waiting until….

Not sure where to start here! I have not found anything I wanted to write about. Just crazy! There are so many things to talk about but I’m struggling as to where I begin. This is hard. Trying to maintain some sense of stability, some sense of hope, some since of pretending to be absolutely okay with this world right now is absolutely freaking hard.

I imagine myself sitting in front of my laptop typing away. The image is so relaxing. There is a vase of flowers sitting on my desk and a wine glass full of sauvignon blanc (because white wine is what you drink when you’re attempting to be creative… I think). The light coming from the window is just perfect with a shadow that strikes the keyboard perfectly. There is even a candle with the scent of lavender that helps me maintain this blissful tranquil scene. I’m waiting!!! Why are my fingers not moving?

Overwhelmed, underwhelmed. The moment is stagnant. It’s like sitting in the middle of busy street, hearing shouts to get the hell out of the street, yet not moving, expecting someone will grab and save you or someone will just decide to let you be until disaster happens. Disaster happened! My brain registers! Disaster around you happened! Disaster around you is still happening! Yeah! But I’m so damn tired of it. I know! Look at the good things, the wonderful and amazing things that surround you….love ones, trees, oceans, skies, children playing. Find the good!

So, I imagine myself sitting in front of my laptop typing away. Oh wait… nope. I’m still stagnant. I will rise soon. I know I will. I will smell the scent of lavender. I’m waiting.

Tired….silent

Ok White people! It’s your turn!

Need for you to open your mouth! It’s your turn.

You know you saw the murder of Ahmaud Arbery! It’s your turn!

You know you watched the white officer’s knee in the neck of George Floyd. Oh yes you did!

It’s your turn.

I’m tired…and would like to rest… if only for a little while.

It’s your turn.

Joy is coming.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). This scripture is a familiar one in my community. I grew up hearing those who were sharecroppers, working on Jim Crow farms, whisper this scripture in their prayers on Sunday mornings at Mt. Olive AME Church in Woodrow, SC. People would dance and shout just in the hearing of this scripture. People hung on these words day and night, in the midst of an oppressive era. When racist called my community derogatory names, when local government tried to take away their voting rights, when banks refuse to give them loans, when they fought a war and then were deny any kind of welcome home parade from the country they fought for, this scripture provided strength to my ancestors to stand and demand their rights.

And here we are again, in a continuation of an oppressive era, this scripture resonating in my mind over and over. Today, my black community are the ones dying more from the Covid-19 virus; having inadequate or no healthcare, working essential jobs such as CNA’s, grocery clerks, public transit workers, assembly workers in meat factories; only allowed to take unpaid sick leave. And here we are again, having to deal with burying our dead not only from the virus but now from white supremacy families who just believe that all black young boys and men should be hunted down and killed. We pause and call the name of Ahmaud Arbery. We work hard to provide for our families. In fact we work ten times as hard to get the same things, housing, transportation, education, etc. And here we are again, being the ones who will suffer more from an economic recession. And here we are again, breathing into our nostrils, this beloved scripture.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. When would the joy come? When would the weeping stop? Why does the weeping have to endure for the whole night? Isn’t a whole night of crying enough? Is it that crying throughout the night will produce joy in the morning? So in the morning, I have something to look forward to? These kind of questions pop in one’s mind, I would guess, when the burden of pain seems just too much to bare. Or, if I can be honest, when one wonders if God really cares. But then I am reminded that my ancestors were not a selfish people that thought only of their immediate satisfactions. My people have great vision; to see beyond hateful bigotry. My people have great vision; to see beyond even the deaths created by our oppressors. My people have great vision; we arrived in chains but broke loose to create magic and provide to a world musicians, scientist, engineers, entrepreneurs, educators, farmers, congresspersons, senators, a black president and so much more. So when I stop and remember the amazing contributions that my people have given to this world, out of their love for humanity, I understand the tears and the endurance, the struggle to make this world a welcoming place. The world needs us. The world would be lost without the richness and grace of God’s melanin people.

Weeping may endure for a night. Water is required for growth. Tears made our roots stronger. Tears provided nourishment for my people. We endure in the hope and as we sprouted forth, seeds fell to the ground, but the seeds can never be dormant. We produce from our tears new generations and in them Joy arise. Understand, we cannot be stopped. Joy always comes in the morning.

To my ancestors…I understand now. Thank you!