Thank You!

Thank you! This is what I and my husband pray to God before going to sleep every night. It is a simple prayer, a reminder to us to be grateful for even the smallest of things. Our world today is up side down and often there are little reasons to see things to be appreciative of. I get it! But I also know, and yes, there’s that word, “but”…… I have the opportunity on any given day that is presented to me to be a positive force in this world. On any given day, I can raise my voice to call out hate. On any given day, I can write a letter to representatives to call out senseless gun violence. On any given day, I can choose to love my neighbor as myself. On any given day, I can choose to make a difference to build a better world. For that, we say “thank you”.

Today, say a simple prayer of “thank you”, to your Creator. Now go and bring peace to a place that so desperately needs it. They are waiting on you!

Be Bless My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

In Our Muddy Pits

Based on Psalm 40:1-5a

In our muddy pits, we will continue to walk heavy through the slush of hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and all that causes harm to the Other. 

In our muddy pits, we will continue to keep our eyes and minds open with creative spirits that will build a better place where all are well and free. 

In our muddy pits, we will continue to share stories of our woes and victories so that someone who has lost their way, their being, their purpose, will be healed by the stories they hear. 

In our muddy pits, slimy and slippery as it may be, we will keep our hands connected to each other, so that any falls we experience might be gentle. 

In our muddy pits, we will call out every injustice in the land, speaking in different tongues, but with unified voices, from every nation, as those described unity in the Book of Acts. 

In our muddy pits, dirty, tired, weary, but strong with a God who is with us in these muddy pits, we will drudge on.  And when we rise from these muddy pits, we shall remember the dirt that stuck to our hands, the clumps of clay that hardened our thighs, the debris that fell into our mouths and flowed through our bodies, we shall then know that we are bonded together and only together we will rise from these muddy pits. 

In the Name of Our Creator, In the Name of Jesus, In the Name of All Tribes Gathered!  

May it be so!  Amen!
                                                                                                       Be Well My Friends!
                                                                                                       Rev. JacquiP









i just want to breathe.

I am finding my way. After trying to be what the church told me I needed to be, to be good, to go to church every Sunday, to be a lady and not use foul language, to hide my cleavage with a safety pin, to believe that God will provide all I need and desire, because I’m saved; after trying to figure out so much of what could be wrong with me while trying to figure out what should be right with me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I all I want to do is breathe. That’s all I want to do!

Friend, don’t be so hard on yourself. Be kind to you and to others, love yourself and others.

That’s it.

Rev. JacquiP

What Does Love Look Like?

What does love look like? Will it look like sidewalks that sparkle when we walk our children to school? Will the air smell like magnolia trees in full bloom and allergies be non existent? Will the streets be clean of debris which our towns sweep to welcome guest who come from far away places? Will our restaurants be full of laughter and conversations, opinions and disagreements, in safe spaces that we create? Will government officials be truly for all the people, not based on party lines or personality politics, but because their service calls them to do good and do what is right? Will our schools allow for the history of all people to be heard and learned and appreciated, even when the history is stories of genocide and hatred? Will police officers stop the killing of black and brown people? Will no-knock warrants cease? Will those who are descendants of an enslaved people ever get reparations? Will those who were on this land first ever be recognized because of their goodwill offering to share with us a blessing? Can we ever get to a point where we see each other as equals and not competitors? Can we normalize that love is love regardless of who’s hands we hold or who we share in making passionate love? Will we embrace our trans children who stand in defiance to our ignorance? Will we stand with those who are brutalized by dictators that kill innocent people and fight with them to gain freedom? Will we welcome all refugees seeking safety no matter what their race or nationality? Will we notice a stranger’s smile in the grocery store and will we smile back? Will we search for ways to end hunger and poverty? Will we seek ways to ensure that all people have shelter? Can we get to a point where material objects are not the things that define our being but realize we have enough so that others will have enough? Will we learn that the death penalty is not a righteous act? Will we serve our enemies food and water? Will we write to the mothers of our enemies that their children are safe in our protection? Will we understand that we are interconnected like highways, bridges, fiber connections that expand the internet, and like those things, when they become crumble and broken, when we lose the ability to connect with each other, we become crumple and broken. Finally, will we discover that at the end of the day, LOVE that heals all of us, that feeds all of us, that clothes all of us, that protects all of us, that accepts all of us, demands one thing from all of us, and that is, simply, that we love ALL OF US!

Hear what Christ our Savior saith. Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets.

Summary of the Decalogue

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

God Is a Black Woman (Book Review)

God Is a Black Woman, written by Christina Cleveland, PhD., is witty, courageous and empowering to Black women who are searching for the image of God that is within herself. Dr. Cleveland is a social psychologist, activist and theologian who has provided to us permission to experience God on our own terms. In her memoir she shares her stories of her struggle growing up in a Christian culture dominated white male patriarchy system, “whitemalegod,” that refuses to comfort her and love her unconditionally but soon discovers the Sacred Black Feminine that identifies with all of her being.

God Is a Black Woman is real and raw, setting you on a spiritual journey, to walk along with Dr. Cleveland, experiencing sometimes discomfort but making your way to a place of wholeness. Dr. Cleveland’s ability to express her childhood memories growing up in a faith riddle with an oppressive theology that is controlling, unkind and unloving, and then as an adult working with white organizations, seeking to eradicate racism, but instead reverting to status quo, Dr. Cleveland finds a way to break free, with no apologies, through the power of several Black Madonnas.

God Is a Black Woman is brave and bold, speaking up against the power and authority of established patriarchal systems and institutions. Dr. Cleveland invites Black women, and all women, to find their liberation and I am here for all of it! God Is a Black Woman is a must read that will have you crying, rejoicing and hugging the very essence of your Sacred Black Feminine.

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Eliza

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!!!!!!

Be blessed my Friends!!!!

Rev. JacquiP!

Old Woman with a Tattoo!

NYAME DUA “Tree of God – Altar”

I got my first and only tattoo at the age of 50. I chose a West African Adinkra symbol that represents God’s presence and protection. The tattoo is on the upper middle portion of my back and depending on what I am wearing, the tattoo is very noticeable. I remember I was sitting in the church pulpit, draped in my clergy robe, and one of the choir members came to me after service and said, “Wow! You got a tattoo before you were saved!” I can’t remember my response or maybe my response was not as kind as it should have been, so I rather not remember. Another time, I was attending a church conference and another clergy person behind me ask, “Why would you get a tattoo where people can see it? Why not put it lower down your back where it couldn’t be seen?” The sadness in this is that the question came from a young person who was in her twenties!!?? What could she be hiding that she is afraid for others to see? I was already a little nervous about people in the church seeing this symbol of freedom sketched in my skin, but at the same time I thought this beautiful rebellious act of declaring this freedom would also make me believe that I could truly be free. Every time I go to church, I take time to make sure that my symbol of authenticity is covered, not to cause anyone to guess whether I am saved or whether I belong.

Yes, at age 50, I was still searching for self, still searching for acceptance, of what I don’t know. I wanted to share my tattoo with friends and family because it was just such an amazing piece of art. I wanted so much to share with them the person of me. The weird thing is that I still even now cover this symbol that represents the God in my life, the God who loves me unconditionally and I am not alone.

There are many of us who cover up that very thing that represents God. We cover up the most amazing thing that shines about us because we may be afraid that our brightness will be too much for some to handle. Afraid that others will extinguish our lights, so why not hide this light for ourselves only, and bring that light out only when it is safe. Well, that does not work because there will come a time where you are unable to hold that thing that represents God for you. You will find yourself bursting with an excitement that is uncontrollable because after a while, you get tired and you don’t give a hill of beans and before you know it, that cover you put on to hide that mark of God’s beauty falls off and blows away.

God is uncontainable!

Be Bless My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

Do you….?

Do you feel that? Are you experiencing the same sense of tension in the atmosphere? I know I am not the only one. In fact, when I am near you I feel the tightness that is in your gut because my spirit reacts to your energy, or lack of. Don’t you feel that? A covering that is smothering us trying to stifle our souls. You are human right? Please tell me you feel what I’m feeling, please?

Don’t you see it? I mean do you not see the people in the street who are running for their lives, trying to hide from man-made hate and man-made climate interrupters! Don’t you see it? It is sad, isn’t it? Are you seeing the children too? I mean, can you put down your social life for just once! I really think you see this. You are human right? Please tell me you see it, please?

I hear something. You hear it too! Yes, you do! You can’t deny it, even though, you wish you could. I think I understand why you pretend everything is fine in the world. Yes, of course, it is a lot to handle! But I don’t believe we can pretend that the world is glorious and not in a horrible place right now. How do we not feel the souls of others spirits being crushed, or see children crying, or hear the earth rumble? We are human right? Please tell me you hear that sound, please?

Listen closely! Peace does not come with weapons or military might. Peace comes from us. Some will say that God will send the peace, so why do anything and just wait on God? Look around! I got news for you, God has been waiting on you. God has been waiting on us. We can pretend the world is just fine or we can say sorry God and by the way God, how can we help? It’s up to us, not God.

Be A Blessing My Friends! You are human, right? No robots here!

Rev. JacquiP

It’s Complicated

I may have written this before. Somewhere I am pretty sure I have used this same title. For that, I will not apologize. It’s complicated. So here we go…

As a black woman of faith, I am taught to seek joy in time of trouble. I am taught to experience gladness in time of sorrow. Sunday comes and I am reminded that whatever was or is troubling me the day before, my countenance should be as a holy glow, not a droopy woe. I am to clap my hands in praise and shout with joy before my God and be humble and thankful. Do not get me wrong, please. I love extending my hand to my God in praise of all the many blessings. But after one more child being killed by police, it’s complicated.

It’s complicated for me to smile and not show the trauma that impacts my body. It’s complicated to sing a song of triumph when my voice instead wants to moan. It’s complicated to lift up encouraging words when you know darn well the words are falling on ears that just want to hear, “Can we be real before God for a minute, please?” It’s complicated in our preparation that we clothe ourselves in an armor that is tough and hard to break, when in reality we are breaking. It’s complicated that we plan for the future with the past still in the back of our minds and the present showing up with past pains. It’s complicated that still we rise in the mornings and must meet the day like there is nothing wrong, like all is just a terrible dream and we must just get through it.

Just get through it, as we hear of another son’s death. Just get through it, as we hear of another’s son’s death, just get through it as we hear of another daughters death. Just get through it, as we notice the anger and violence that we are facing and the anger and violence we do internally to ourselves as we just get through it. I can’t get through it.

So now, God. Can I be real with you? No, I present myself before God with sadness, not joy. With anger, not gladness, with lament, not a smile. Not clapping my hands to pretend that all is well. Not walking with my head held high so others will feel comfortable. Not making a joyful noise for others who refuse to see my tears or hear my cries. No! For me to do otherwise is just too complicated.

Hear my prayer God. It’s complicated!

Amen

How to Care Instructions

I am adding plants to my home. Y’all, I am not good with plants. I know they should be green? At least the leaves? I bought two small plants, one I keep in the basement and one I have hanging in front of a large window in my dining room. Please don’t ask me the name of the plants because I threw away the little tab that had the name and instructions of how to take care of the plants. I figured adding water was all I needed to know. I mean, you add dirt and water, anything else, like plant food, correct temperature, singing to your plant is just a bonus, right? Actually, I bought three plants, unfortunately one died, so I kinda don’t count it. I did feel some remorse though, when I threw it in the garbage. The plant in the dark basement is thriving; I’ve learned this one doesn’t require much light or water. The plant in my window is holding on, leaves are dry and falling and it doesn’t seem as vibrant. I think I could be overwatering it and the cold air coming in the window probably don’t help, but I am giving it more attention by watching the branches and eyeing if more leaves are dropping. I agree, I should not have thrown the “how to care” instructions away.

It has been almost a year of being inside away from the things that we enjoy. Being away from those that we love, from from our churches, synagogues and mosques. Away from the things that also brought us life, our favorite restaurants, attending concerts of our favorite artist, partying with friends and celebrating getting a pay check on a Friday night. We all are dealing different with this Covid-19 season. Some of us are thriving, finding new ways of being and growing in wonderful ways. Some of us are drooping along, trying each day to make it, trying to find our way by figuring out what is it that we need so that our bodies will stand tall again and our countenance will no longer seem sad. Some have found that right amount of sunlight and water; some have found that they may require something different. We all come with a different set of instructions and my belief, intuitively, we already know what that is. But there is one common thread that we all require and that is love. We require to be love and to give love. Without the instruction of someone’s DNA, without the tab that tells us how to care specifically for one another, we seek to pay attention to each other. We notice if someone is hurting, we notice if someone is hungry, and we even notice when someone is happy and join in their joy.

The plant in the window looks like it may survive. I love the hanging basket that it sits in, but I may have to move it. As beautiful as the sun shines on it, the cold air stifles its’ growth and I want it to live. In fact, I need for this plant to live, in hopes that I can redeem myself from the one I threw in the trash. But more importantly, I need for you to live. I need for you to live strong. I need for your branches to reach to its highest height. I need for you to have the right amount of water, the correct temperature and a song that only belongs to you. And when you smile, I rejoice in seeing your face glow with excitement. God requires us to care and love each other. Let’s do that! “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Yes, I agree. I need to know the name of my plants. I will work on that!

Rev. Jacqui P.