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!
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is bold and pleasantly frightening. Sue Monk Kidd questioning her spiritual journey and wondering if her Christian faith actually recognizes her womanhood and speaks to her directly, is a question I believe many women have asked, including myself, and what is so surprising is this memoir written over 25 years ago, is still very relevant today. Sue Kid Monk’s tenacity to deal with the question is one of bravery and begins the process to heal what she calls, “feminine wounds.”
In all honesty, reading this book was difficult because it tugged in those neglected spaces women usually just settle for, and at the same time, there is liberation taking place. Kidd gently forces women to truly focus on what roles they play in their faith journey and reminds us not to just accept the status quo as is, but that it is quite alright to search for a place that includes you and includes your worth. This book is for women who are ready to heal wounds caused by a Christian faith tradition that has stifled the voices of the feminine sacred divine. This book is for women who are searching for a rebirth in becoming who their authentic, beautiful and holy selves truly are.
There is a warning though that comes when you begin to open your mind to the The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Don’t be surprised as you read Kidd’s memoir, that you soon remember a moment when listening to a sermon you didn’t agree with and secretly screamed out loud but kept the facade of a smile on your face to show your loyalty, or when participating in a women’s conference that somehow managed to include Adam’s rib into their description of women, and yet you kept that silly grin on your face, that you as well have participated in patriarch oppressive systems. You will come to the realization that you too might be ready to start a faith journey you can claim your own, but be further warned, with that comes labor pains that may take longer than expected, but the stretch marks will soon tell the story of a journey worth taking.
I like to dance. I am not good at it, but there is a freedom that overtakes me when I move my body to the music of 70’s funk. I dance to release stress and it is also a means of exercise for me now since the weather is cold and snow is on the ground. One day as I was dancing across the room, my arms rising in the air, my hips swaying, my knees aching and my face gleaming with joy of content, I realized that I was not alone. Present with me in the dance was Katie, Pearl, Yvette, Millie and Eliza. All women who are gone from this earth. These beautiful souls who touched me in ways that instill the person who I have become and who I am becoming. I felt their whispers in my ear, saying to me, “Close your eyes and dance until you get every worry, every disappointment, every sadness, out of your soul and mind. Dance until your feet can’t move any more. Then know, that everything is alright.” Y’all, I closed my eyes and danced until the sweat of insecurities, sweat of exhaustion from trying to be so many things for others, sweat of doubt, dripped heavily on the floor. And I didn’t even try to clean up the mess. I left it there to evaporate.
March 2020, I stopped wearing makeup during the early days of the pandemic. To be honest, all the cosmetics I had in my dresser drawer were way too old and I should have thrown the products away a whole lot sooner than I did. I only used mascara to look fully awake in all of the ZOOM events that required that I show my face. Wearing no makeup was quite refreshing! Plus why would someone put foundation on to only get it all smeared on a face mask any way? And why wear lipstick when no one could see the your lip color? Wearing no makeup, I was a new woman, a natural woman, and the mirror showed off my new found freedom proudly.
One day, bored out of my mind, I started searching YouTube videos on something ,I don’t even remember now what it was. But makeup tutorials caught my attention and for two hours I sat and watched women change their entire appearance, looking nothing like the person that I stared at in the beginning of their instructions. It was fascinating! It was pure art! I admired them for being so detailed in how to apply eye shadow and how to make their nose keener (still don’t really understand that part). Of course I wasn’t going to try this myself. First I am too lazy and second, I really don’t have that kind of time. But, walking down the Rite-Aid beauty aisle, I could’t help but pick up a tube of L’Oréal face foundation that begged me to just remember what it felt like wearing makeup before the pandemic hit. So I took the bait. Baby steps. Today getting ready for church, I wore foundation, Number 8-10, for my skin complexion and mascara, along with my face mask. I felt pretty. So why am I writing about this?
We discovered in this pandemic that we had choices in how we presented ourselves to the world and even to ourselves. We discovered new things about ourselves and brought forth the hidden things we so loved about us to the surface for others to see. We were open to let go of our idiosyncrasies, not afraid no longer of what others thought of us, no longer afraid of our unique abilities. We discovered a freedom that introduced us to ourselves because the gift of time demanded from us a sit down with self. The videos I discovered were makeup artist in their bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, with sounds of their children playing in the background, in the midst of their homes where toys and clothes are thrown across the room, sharing cosmetic products bought from their neighborhood Walmart. Their videos brought joy to me as I watched how one makeup artist was excited to introduced a $1.99 tube of lip gloss. How pure is that? I discovered that I am not a makeup artist. I can wear makeup or do without, but what I discovered that when I take the opportunity to see others shine in their own unique sort of way, when I take the opportunity to experience their freedom, I too experience my freedom. I too, experience my sparkle. We are all INSPIRATIONS! What is that you are offering that puts a sparkle to someone’s day? $1.99 tube of lip gloss can be a great start!
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!!!!!!
I know this, whatever this is, will pass and things will get better.
I know that my tears will stop falling.
I know that I will stop struggling day in and day out.
I know that I will experience happiness and joy.
I know that I am loved.
I know that I give love.
I know that the summer sun will shine bright on my face.
I know that the sound of music will inspire me to imagine again.
I know that I will have fun sitting on my deck, sipping a nice glass of Chenin Blanc.
I know I will hear children playing, riding their bicycles, as their parents shout, "Be careful!"
I know I will feel excited about making plans for our future lives.
I know... that's all... that's enough...today....I know.
It’s sunny in Philadelphia! And I am glad that the snow is melting, not to say we won’t see snow again before Spring, but this sun is absolutely beautiful. It shines on my dusty floors and dirty windows, displaying that my cleaning days have been void or none really. But the ray of sun makes the dust dance with joy.
We have been inside our homes for a long time. We have been with our children, spouse, friends, and unfortunately even enemies, in the same space, every second, every minute, every hour, every day and to be honest, we are sick and tired of it. Some of us have made our way to the outside, just not to the grocery store or to take a walk, but courageously to do normal things we use to, like siting in a restaurant, eating and drinking cocktails. I’m not there yet, but to those who have done this fabulous thing, I salute you; keep your mask on please! But if I may, let me point to something we probably never paid much attention to and have taken it somewhat for granted. Dust!
Who thinks about dust?! Well apparently I do? Sounds like I may have too much time on my hands. Anyway! The sun shining on my hard wood floors, that are about a hundred years old, displays dust that rolls from one corner to the next. But the dust is a reminder that life is steady happening around us. The dry skin cells that falls from our bodies, the environment that leaks through the old windows; the last bit of snow we shake off our boots and cracks in our house we don’t even recognize is there, shows us that inside the places we live are really the places we really live! The dust shows us the place in which we are showing up in our lives and in the lives of others. In the homes we have built, the places where we are our truest selves. The dust reminds us that the laughter we shared on a ZOOM call stays in the air of our home and bounces from one wall to another. The dust reminds us of the living room sofa, sitting with the whole family when everyone finally decided on the same movie to watch. The dust reminds us of the tears our older child shed when her senior class dance was canceled and the comfort offered by our hugs and brushing the tears away. The dust reminds us of our partner saying how much they love us and the dust also reminds us of our saying goodbye to loves ones through a cell phone or laptop screen as we gently brushed away our anger and loss.
The dust reminds us that we are still moving, still striving, still crying, still laughing, still grieving and still being. Yes, I must sweep up this dust; it is allergy season! But I know the dust will return. We will return again to a life free from a pandemic. We will return to a world that is new because we have discovered that dust looks the same, feels the same, blows the same and is relentless! So I’m hearing someone say, “we were created from dust and to dust we will return.” Okay, but don’t get too caught up on that please!!! Just appreciate that when the sun shines on your dust, it sparkles and rises up in the air, dancing before you, letting you know that life still happens, because of you!
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” 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’m looking at the 2020 Oscars and having a moment. Remembering when I was eight years old and saying one day I’m going to be on stage getting that Oscar. I loved acting and singing, knowing at such an early age what my talent was. I just knew one day I would be there. I’m not.
Yes, I’m sad that I did not reach out for my dreams. I’m sad that I didn’t try, at all to go for what I knew I could do. I should have listened to my heart and not listened to my mother who wanted to make sure I was able to eat and said, go to college, study business administration and get a skill to fall back on. I remember sitting in the back of the college auditorium, seeing students rehearsing for their upcoming play, “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Me, next day, singing, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, in the girl’s dormitory bathroom and hearing one of my floor mates applauding the sound of my voice. I should have changed my major then.
It’s not anyone’s fault. But let me just say this to a parent who could be poor, afraid that you don’t have much to offer to your children, afraid that your children’s life may pattern the life of yours. Tell your child to trust their gifts, tell your child their talent is big enough to carry them into success. For if you don’t, you child will pattern their life after yours, a life of being afraid, a life of shoulda, woulda, a life of sitting sixty years later, drinking a glass of red wine, wondering what could have been.
I don’t dislike my life now. It took be a while to get to a place of contentment. But damn, I could have been a star!!