There are so many things we are trying to accomplish. For some of us, making up the bed in the morning is a big accomplishment, along with getting the household ready, up and off to work and/or school, which is probably located in a room down the hallway of our home that has become the sole place of our existence. Whew! Here we are, 2022!
My daughter asked me if I had anything new plans or challenges I wanted to do this year, any new goals I wanted to go for. Really? My answer was no. All I’m trying to do is do the best I can. I’m not trying to run a marathon, or accomplish something so absolutely spectacular that I would have to pinch myself to see if it’s really me that is doing all this amazing stuff! Sorry. Nope, not a new thing. Of course for those who are raring to go in this new year and shoot for the stars, I say hooray!! I know you will succeed and I will be there to pinch you and say, yes, you did that!!
So for those like me, who maybe moving a little slower these days, not because of age, but because we choose to do so, know that you are doing enough and you are doing life well. Please give yourself some grace and move when you are ready. We have all been through a great deal of trauma and just maybe, 2022, is the lazy year we need.
My faith celebrates the One who comes into this world offering hope, peace and love. My faith teaches me that Jesus is light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome the light. My faith also teaches me that as Jesus serves to bring light and exposes the injustices of this world, so must we who are followers of Christ do the same. We are also light.
Yes, we are plagued with pandemics of viruses, of gun violence, of poverty, of unaffordable health care, of education inequity, racism, sexism, too many others to name. All of this is challenging and it almost sounds impossible to do anything about. My faith offers to me that we can do more than we can even imagine. God actually believes that we can. Imagine that! God believes in us so much that God brings us a light through the Christ child that strengthens and guides us in making our world a place not of darkness, but one of love, of acceptance, of helping the other, of seeing the other, embracing and sharing our gifts with one another, of sharing light that overcomes the darkness. Light always prevails.
My prayer for all of us is that we shine our light so bright that the darkness will be totally pushed out and that God would say, “Hey, I knew you could do it!”
Be Bless My Friends, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022!!
The Holiday season is upon us. This time last year, the Christmas tree was up, decorated with our favorite ornaments and the African nativity set was brought up from the basement placed on the mantle where it could be admired. As of today, there is no tree and the nativity set is still in the basement collecting dust. Maybe tomorrow I will unwrap the tangled Christmas lights? Maybe? There is no rush.
I listened to car horns blowing in traffic, irritated drivers trying to reach the places that held the items they need to buy for friends and love ones. Unfriendly walkers moving at a fast pace, head down, not making eye contact with anyone, because they are on a mission to beat time. It is wonderful to see people out again and yes we are still in a pandemic and yes we must still be safe. And yes, we have returned to a sense of normalcy; the normalcy of once again, not seeing each other and the normalcy of only being concern with our single agendas, the normalcy of rushing that we end up missing the most delicate things of life. Maybe the squirrels can help us recall what it is to experience what it feels like to be fully alive.
Walking with all the car noise and chatter around me, I heard a ruffling in leaves that were raked in a pile. Two squirrels were running and playing with each other; jumping in and out of the pile of leaves. When I got close, they stopped and got quiet until I passed by. Once I passed, the squirrels returned to their joy of running and jumping, chasing each other and being free. For a moment, I was a little jealous of the squirrels enjoying the unseasonal warm weather. For a moment, I didn’t want to return to normalcy as I remembered it.
As you prepare to lay down your head tonight, do me a favor. Hold your arms out wide, take a deep breath, wiggle your fingers, don’t hold that breath in too long; go ahead and exhale! Now take your strong arms and give yourself a great big hug. You’ve been through a lot this week. Tomorrow is a new day. Give yourself some grace. I’m praying you peace, joy, hope and abundant blessings with you and for you!
This is the first Sunday in Advent 2021 and today the word is Hope. I struggle with the word, hope. I don’t know if my hoping to have a better world or my hoping to complete my doctor of ministry degree really gets me motivated to create those possibilities, but I’m working my way through this thought. Here is why. About 4 years ago at a coffee bar, while this young man read poetry and played sounds on his folk guitar that made me feel like I could fly above the clouds, he said, “There is no such thing as hope.” Hoping for things in life or hoping to be something in life, it just doesn’t get you to the places you want to be. His thought was that hope is just a pipe dream that you can wish over and over again. I remember this night well. This was the night I realized and accepted that my Mom was not going to live for very much longer. She had stage 4 lung cancer and all I could do that night was turn to Hope.
Hope is breathing through the difficulties that life throws at you. Hope is walking through the storms, seeing the rain beating on your face, watching the hurricanes toss you around, but you move anyway. Hope is believing that there will be an end to this crazy pandemic! Hope is being vulnerable before something or someone that refuses to see you. Hope is praying for a sick friend or relative because they have no one else. Hope is loving a partner who is struggling with their own demons. Hope is reaching inside your purse and coming up with a few coins to buy a candy bar for your crying child who throws a tantrum and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy. Hope is praying that you will get up in the morning, ready to go to a job you don’t like, but it pays the bills, but one day it will get better, because you continue to hope.
I disagree with the young poet with the smooth sounding guitar. Hope pushes you to dream, to have vision, to imagine the possibilities.
Hope is where we start. In this season of Advent, my prayer for you is that you continue to hope for the very best for you and for others. Imagine us all hoping for the very best for and in our world. Imagine us now walking towards that hope.
God finds a way to get your attention. No, I am not talking about a god that chastises you or is sending you to hell. I don’t know that god. Hope you don’t either! But God who speaks to you either with a whisper or a loud shout that tells you that you are so much more than what you think. You know, that God who created every fiber of your being and was proud of the outcome. Well, this week, God spoke with a loud shout, and I wasn’t sure and still not sure how to handle it.
Here is what happened. I work with birth parents whose children are in the foster care system. This job has its ups and downs. I have experienced children reunited with parents and I have experienced foster care parents who have loved on children for years and have to say goodbye to them at a moment’s notice. I have cried over court decisions that I felt in my heart was wrong and I have jumped for joy when the court decisions were right. I have watched infants come into the system and seen them grow into toddlers and elementary children. I have seen older children take on the role of a parent to save their younger siblings from the awful knowledge they are unaware of. I can’t say that it is all rewarding and I can’t say that it is all just. This week I spent two hours with a birth parent that can be quite intimidating. He curses everyone out; have a shouting match and will debate every last thing, even when someone is trying to help him. He does not trust anyone. He has experienced much trauma and when someone attempts to get close, he pushes them away by using hurtful words concerning their race and/or their gender. This does not make this person sound like a nice person, does it? Let’s call this person, Mr. See Me.
Mr. See Me has been abused for most of his life by systems that have landed him in prison and taken away his family. He has been fighting, seeking justice for himself for a long time and he is tired. He experiences bouts of rage because he is never heard, never seen by those who think him to be insignificant and that his life does not matter. He is unable to express his mental depression at the same time living in denial and pretending that he is well, because, hey, that is what black men were taught to do. Don’t be vulnerable. Man Up and don’t let them see you cry. But every now and then, Mr. See Me shows himself, this loving person who talks about his children with pride and how he listens to his mother even when he doesn’t always agree with her. Every now and then Mr. See Me doesn’t realize it, but he allows you in, if only for a few seconds. On our last meeting, Mr. See Me, with a stern expression on his face, turns to me and says, “Your gift is not meant for this place; your gift is not helping anyone here!” For the past few months, I have said out loud this very thing; this place is not where I need to be. Mr. See Me saw me. Could I take the time to see him?
You might ask, so what is so special about Mr. See Me statement directed to me. In his anger, his disappointments, his struggles through his own life, Mr. See Me saw a gift in me! How many of us have decided that we have all the answers because we believe we are the only ones that can save someone but that very person we believe need our help, because we are so great and mighty, turns out to be the very one saving us?
Yes, I am still pondering on what Mr. See Me said and I am thankful that Mr. See Me decided to show his gift to me, if only for a few seconds. A few seconds that made me see him fully as a human being. For a few seconds who will you see differently, who will you not judge, who will you allow yourself to fully see?
Last week I attended my sister’s memorial service. I gave the eulogy. This was not difficult because my sister was special and great in all things! The best wife and mother, the best school teacher, the best community leader, she was just simply the best. My hope is that I will remember all the wonderful legacies she has left behind and how she taught me to be the best that I can be.
Eliza is her name. Born in 1931 during the heart of the Depression Era and raised in the evil of the Jim Crow Era. A black woman with tenacity and spunk, not wavering to white supremacy at all, but elevating herself to live life to the fullest. She reached back and pulled others with her, inspiring young people to know that they are worthy of all their dreams and aspirations. She graduated with her bachelors from Morris College in Sumter, SC, then went on to receive her Masters in Education from Hampton University, in Hampton Virginia. She defied all the odds and stood boldly in the face of those who said she was not worthy because of the color of her skin. I’m so proud that this woman of bravery was, is my sister.
When I think of Eliza, Proverbs 31 comes to mind. Of course, I am not a fan of Proverbs 31, really I’m not! This particular part of biblical religiosity was used so much to undermined what women should be by religious patriarchy standard. But I must admit, that a couple verses stood out which described Eliza. Proverbs 31: 16-17 which reads: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and make her arms strong.”
Eliza built a beloved community with the fruit of her hands. With her love for her family and for all black and brown children that she knew deserved so much more, she opened her heart. When I think of Eliza, I think of this old black and white picture which looks like she is considering how she can make a difference in this world. I love her for never giving up and never giving up planting a vineyard that will produce fruit for the ages to come.
Black Women can’t be stopped! We consider our communities and we invest in them. We toiled the field with our hands which produce beautiful fruit, Our arms are strong and our God is with us!
I love you Eliza!! I miss you, my sister!
Who do you learn from? Is it someone who makes the world better for everyone? Is it someone you can truly be proud of? Is it someone who looks like LOVE!!??? My sister is ALL OF THAT!!!!!!
Saturday nights are for sitting quietly at home, watching a movie and maybe a little love making might happen later, but more than likely not, we just say our prayers, kiss and hug and fall asleep.
Saturday nights we used to get dress and hit the town, eat an over price dinner and bar hop in the city until the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday nights are now for breathing out the insanity that happened during the work week and drinking beer and wine, wearing old torn clothes, not combing our hair and hoping the adult children don’t call looking for money.
Saturday nights are sacred and holy. Saturday nights belong to us, to prance around in our underwear with the windows open, caring not what the world says.
How precious it is to get old and to see what really matters. I love Saturday nights!