Comforting Words: Your Light Shall Rise

Monday, February 12, 2007

Your Light Shall Rise

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A couple days after posting the last article on the joys of eating herbs and leaving the fatted calves for those who prefer to remain in ‘darkness’, a few things happened to me.

Some people might call these occurrences coincidences but I much rather the word coined by the late Carl Jung – synchronicity.

In that post, I mentioned all the ways that this February – the month of my birth and Black History month – would be different for me. In fact, I thought life in general would never be the same for me again. I felt and still feel that in many ways I will never be able to recoup all the losses that I have experienced through the cruel, yes, cruel way in which my partner left.

Yes, I was lamenting (and I am not afraid nor ashamed to admit it) that I would not be with the congregation that I have grown to love and respect, celebrating Black History Month – albeit this is a ninety-eight percent Caucasian congregation.

Then as if to test my seriousness that I will not be in church for Black History Month, two days after writing this article, I received an email inviting me to participate in a church service for Black History Month! My response was “thank you but that's the last thing I would want to do at this time – sorry, I simply cannot do it, it would be too painful for me at this time.”

It was even more painful for me to say no but I had to – as I am learning to take care of myself – a concept that is new to me.

Black History Month has so much meaning to me, particularly since living in North America and seeing the realities of race relations here – despite what they would have you believe if you are silly enough. However, this year, my personal struggles, one that in many ways have much to do with these same realities, prevent me from participating.

As for my birthday (February 15), ever since I was a year old, my mother would celebrate my birth with a party of some sort. It became a tradition for me to mark my birthday in some way, one that continued throughout the 16 years of my last relationship. Needless to say, at the time of writing the last post I was both sadden that this year would be different and somewhat angry at what know feels like a farce that took place last year.

With both these feelings in my heart – sadness and some amount of anger – I continued to ask for Guidance. I knew I did not want to leave my solitude and be in any group setting where I might be expected to put on a brave face when brave was the last emotion that I was feeling.

I didn’t want to be anywhere, with anyone asking me politely how was I feeling as they dashed through the door – not really having the time for me to ‘draw long bench’ and give the full bill and receipt about the depths of my pain or the love that I still have for my ex.

I also knew that life goes on. After all I tried to end mine twice without success, so it must mean that the Divine still has a purpose for me here.

With this in mind, I lit my candles as I continue doing every morning since the 40 day Wilderness Journal, smudged (that’s an Native American ritual that I have come to love and feel blessed doing) and opened my Bible for a passage for the day. As I was doing all of this, my prayer was “Dear God, what am I supposed to do now?”

The answer came in three strokes. First it was the Scripture that opened – Isaiah 58 and it was verses 6 – 14 that caught my attention. The verses that really got to me read:

“If you remove the yoke from among you,
The pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
If you offer your food to the hungry
And satisfy the needs of the afflicted
Then your light shall rise in the darkness
And your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your needs in parched places.”

Some of you might know that for a long time now I have made “my reason for living,” my cause – to seek justice for the poor, the voiceless, women, children, LGBTQ persons, the sick and the imprisoned. So when I read this passage it was my first kick in the butt from the Divine.

The next swift kick I got came from my daughter.

She had read my post in which I stated that I was no longer laying claim to the ‘title’ strong woman and she sent me a power point presentation “She’s not dead.” As I watched this presentation, I wept. (Please, click on the link and view this presentation).

I wept for myself and for every black woman who has been wronged, abused, rejected and abandoned by a partner, the system and society. I wept for every black woman (and man) who felt she/he was not enough or too much and therefore denied her/his truth to fit in.

Then I called my daughter and we wept together because I understand fully why she sent it to me and the recent memories that it evoked in her. After hanging up from her, I knew I had to get my power back - but how?

My new Spiritual Director, a lovely Catholic Nun, unknowingly pointed out a book to me some months ago and it has become a key element in my prayer life. After viewing that power point, I said this prayer from that book with greater urgency. It was written by Virginia Moise Rosefield.

I do not pray for riches. But should riches come to me, I pray for generosity so that I would be willing to share with others.

I do not pray for beauty. But should I be fair of face and form, I pray for modesty lest I flaunt my loveliness.

I do not pray for power. But should it be my lot to lead and influence others, I pray for wisdom, lest arrogance take over my nature.

I do not pray for honor. But should honor come to me, I pray for understanding, lest esteem cause me to forget those who need a helping hand.

I do not pray for talent. But should I be gifted, I pray for humility, knowing full well that all talent comes from You.

I do not pray for trouble. But should trouble come to me, I pray for courage to begin anew and neither whine nor blame.

I do not pray for sorrow. But when grief enters my life, I pray for fortitude to bear my trials with patience and to be a comfort to those around me.

For generosity; for modesty; for wisdom; for understanding; for humility; for courage; for fortitude.

But most of all I pray for faith – faith in Your perfection; faith in the perfection of Your judgments and Your laws.

Each morning since February 2, I end my morning devotion with this prayer. The Divine must have heard me again and decided to see if I was truly ready for what I was saying. So came the third stroke.

Wednesday (February 7) I got an email reminding me that I am one of the planners of and a panelist at a national conference of Black People in the United Church of Canada and have work to do and therefore must travel to Montreal in March. I had not forgotten but was seriously considering withdrawing as I did not feel I was up to the task. Further, my ex was to have gone on this trip with me and it was during the midst of making final plans for it she made her grand announcement.

Friday (February 9) I got another email, this time inviting me to be a speaker and panelist at a Women’s Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in June. I read and re-read this invitation and closed the email without responding.

Then this morning (February 12) I opened my email account at Comfort Foundation, one that I have not opened in months, and found among the many messages waiting for me an invitation sent in January. This one was inviting me to be key note speaker at a conference in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan in July.

I printed all three invitations and reminder and just as I was about to place a phone call to my ‘guru’ M in Toronto – as I was very torn about what to do – I notice an email from a Lance.
“Who the hell is Lance?” I thought and just as I was about to hit the delete button, that voice said to me “No, read it!”

Lance is an alma mater that I have not seen nor heard from in over twelve years. We went to university together back in Kiev (in the 1980's) and for awhile after we returned to Jamaica we kept in touch, even visiting each other occasionally. He met my now ex and knew my daughter since she was born. In fact, Lance was one of the angels who watched over us while I was going through another trying and abusive time with my daughter’s father.

Apparently, he had made a New Year’s resolution to contact three people who he has not been in touch with for over five years – and I was one. In his message he said it was not hard to find me – he used Google and there I was – with seven links.

Lance was instrumental in my final decisions about these three conferences and my placing a telephone call to the church that I told no about doing the Black History Month service. Here are excerpts of what he wrote:

I digested your entire blog. I could beat you for wanting to cross yourself over. You are such a strong woman. Where is the Claudette that I know?
We did not go through all that in the Ukraine to wimp out. You know you are extremely strong and very powerful, and God did not place you on this earth for just this one experience. I am sorry you are going through all of this, but I know you are going to be much stronger because you are not going to just melt away. The strongest steel goes through the hottest fire and I know you are a very strong and determine woman….Don't let anyone see that you are breaking to pieces, no matter how much you love this person.
To hell with …. I notice that you were losing yourself in her, but that is all part of love sometimes. You just need to pull yourself together and know that you have a lot of friends out there for you. After reading your blog, I realized that you may be away from home and thus the weakness, but you are and will always be a strong and powerful woman.
On February 7, I had this dream and when I interpreted it the next morning it meant: “You need strong, male support in order to overcome your crisis. You are either very afraid or warning about a danger you need to avoid.”

Once again my dream was right! Here was my knight in shining armor – Lance. A man who I have not heard from in over twelve years but whose email came just when I needed masculine strength – something that is in all of us but for the past four months was not very evident in my experience.

And so, thirty-seven pounds lighter (yes, that’s how much weight I have lost since October 8 the doctor confirmed on Friday), with an elevated blood pressure and still on anti-depressants and tranquilizers – Claudette the woman of strength and the strong woman is back! She is not dead!

I placed the call – still saying “no” to speaking or participating in the Black History month celebrations at my local church – it still too close to home and the pain. But I also placed three other calls and said “Yes!”

So maybe I will see you in Montreal, maybe we will meet in Vancouver or maybe we will meet in Winnipeg. Wherever we meet, know that battered, scarred and bruised this Black Woman is not dead!

I thank you all for your prayers, your support, your advice, your swift kicks but most of all for your love and compassion. It’s still a long journey – one that I will and must continue to walk alone, at least for now, if I am to come into Truth and Trust. But it will not be forever!

God bless.



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