And, so we begin as most stories start, Once upon a time not too long ago . . .
“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” Soren Kierkegaard
For me, this quote speaks of many known and unknown joys and pains. It is a quote that my godmother faithfully recalls when she’s attempting to ease the fears of young black female ministers who are feeling completely overwhelmed by the uncertainties and precarity of pursuing their callings. It is a quote that literally takes me back to when I was a painfully shy brown girl who desperately longed for a savior. Something big and expansive enough to swallow me as the whale swallowed defiant Jonah. I needed a savior. I needed something big.
Looking back . . .
As I stand now at the altar hands raised weeping at the words of this black prea-cher woman, my mind spins 15 years back to the many nights when I was a pubescent black girl crying and at times screaming outside the locked bedroom door of my grandmother’s room. I needed sanctuary. I needed sanctuary from the evil that stalked me when the lights grew dark and when my eyes became heavy with sleep. So, I would knock on her door each night first asking if I could sleep in her bed. And if her answer was no tears fail. I would knock, beg, and weep until the sheer weariness of begging got the best of my eyes and I fell asleep hoping to be granted a type of spiritual asylum that could only be found near my grandmother’s bed. Of course, all this could be avoided if my grandmother’s door happened to be unlocked, whereby, I would simply creep into her room and wiggle my non-curved brown girl body underneath her king size bed sleeping until it was time for her to get up for work in which I would quickly scurry to my own bed.