Church Discomfort

It was another church service. I must have been in middle school. There I sat in the church service next to my mother. We never sat in the front but more towards the back. People were going up to the altar as the pastor gave his call. This is something that never resonated with me. It was a very emotional time for many people but it simply left me in an unbothered state. However, on this day, my mother decided that both of us were going to the altar.
She was sitting to my left instead of my right. I would have to move in order for her to leave the pew. She stood there hastening me to get up and go with her. It was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do. My eyes could have cried tears of embarrassment. There I was in front of the entire church; uncomfortable.


As the womens’ circle disbanded, a friend furiously texted me a letter that was given to her from her church. It stated a long list of offensive rules that had been created and distributed overnight. Members that decided to marry a person of the same sex would be required to give up their membership. People that were joined in same sex unions elsewhere would be required to surrender their membership and the property would not be available to anyone that did not marry someone of the opposite gender. She had been a faithful Christian her entire life in this church. Her words spoke of abandon and disbelief that she was now required to just vanish without a trace because parts of the Bible had been quoted and used against her because she preferred to have sex with women instead of men. She likes to engage in sexual activity with another consenting adult because of a strong emotional connection and somehow this gets her kicked out of church. I fail to see the connection.
My words were carefully crafted because such nonsense hurts people at the core of their faith. As a non-profit that makes a profit, it is not in the best interest of the church to turn down tithes or money for their property from outside clients. I did not realize that God would turn his back on creatures that he created. Not only was discrimination evident in the letter, but I felt a strong insensitive touch mixed with outdated views. The pastor referred to the adults that liked other adults as “THEM”. How would he feel if he was told that he could no longer go to his place of worship because of his shoes? That sounds silly right? Good. My point has been made.
I remember someone telling me that she did not believe that a child should have two mommies because she felt as if society had to be upheld. Society has to be upheld. Children are being gunned down in the streets. You can not even go to church to pray because a murderer may shoot you so he can start a race war. Education is not about learning. McDonalds is allowed to sell anything it decides to call food. We are a rich nation yet there are people walking the streets because they can not afford housing. There are countries within hours of us that are falling apart but the fact that a child has two mommies is a great threat to society.
As such statements ring through my ears, I remember a very dark time in my life. My relationship with a man from another race had ostracized me from my family. Finishing college became rather difficult but I did it. Suddenly, I was between an internship and job hunting. A friend told a secretary about me back in 2001. I still have the same boss. When my birthday came around, that friend gave me a card, a large carrot cake, and some cash. She may be described by others as a bull dyke. I prefer to call her a friend that played a significant role in helping me to advance myself with a simple gesture.
Perhaps, I should also mention that I will be attending a drag show next month to admire all of the lovely queens with their fabulous make-up and gorgeous outfits. My views may be described as pro gay, but that is incorrect. I would prefer to say that I am pro human; pro-love. You have to love yourself before you can love someone else. Naturally, I question those that have a problem with other people loving someone else that has the same mechanics. There are bigger issues at stake that require our attention. When will we get to them?

The Final Curtain Call

Thursday, June 5, 2014
There I was wrestling with the idea of spending the evening at my parents’ home. My mother was alone in the house while my father was in the nursing home. She was spending all of her waking hours attending to him. I had the idea of spending the night with her; however, I wanted to stay in my home and enjoy my activities. It was late at night when I graced her porch with my presence. The sofa soon comforted my sleepiness.

Friday, June 6, 2014
After a nice breakfast with my mother, I headed into work to wrap up all affairs prior to going on vacation. Why I even joined a friend for breakfast part II at IHOP. I told her how I wanted to get some friends to go to the nursing home to perform with me for my dad. Soon after this conversation, my mother called to inform me that my father was unresponsive and was being rushed to Jackson South which was next door to the nursing home. I had just left her home and now faced the task of getting back to the same area with traffic. As I entered the room where a team was scurrying, there were tubes inside of him and his eyes were closed. I hated to see how he just hung there being as if he were being tossed about but it was my intent to stay right there and watch.
When I was born, I was taken from my mother due to placenta previa. My father had to wait and watch helplessly as my life was in limbo. Insurance companies refused to insure me, and I was not expected to live. He said that my godmother continued to tell him not to lose hope because God would pull me through; that scene took place 37yrs ago. It was with this in mind that I sat there and watched no matter the circumstances.
Family friends soon pulled me away as it was determined that Daddy had suffered a massive stroke and would have to be sent to Baptist where a team was awaiting his arrival. I got in my car and drove. While we waited in a suite, groups of the church sister hood flocked in to surround my mother as they have from the day Daddy went under. The doctor informed us that the stroke did not take place that morning but approximately 9hrs ago based on the damage that he saw and there had been more than one. It was the same way that his father passed away. Daddy would be removed from life support 24hrs after being placed on it in accordance with his wishes. We waited. We prayed.

Saturday, June 6, 2014
I thought that my Daddy would die on this day. For me, he had already left us something Thursday evening. It was now left to the body to realize what had happened. Others left the room when the respiratory therapist finally arrived to remove the tubes. I shook her hand and thanked her for removing the very things that my father never wanted. I made myself comfortable next to a nurse friend of the family, as the therapist did what she had to do. The noises were not pleasant for me, but I would not leave. Daddy never left me.
It was another four days of painful limbo for everyone involved in the transition of my father. During this time, the overwhelming support of the sisterhood that envelopes my mother to this day stood by within reach. It brings tears to my eyes to watch these women support my mother as she mourned the loss of my father.
Daddy was officially pronounced early Wednesday morning. It was a great relief for me to know that he had finally expired. In the days that followed, I found great comfort in planning the music for the funeral and its associated events. The outpouring of love & support was wonderful. There were so many wonderful connections for me to celebrate and enjoy. People told me that watching me gave them a sense of comfort as they wondered how I was able to remain so composed. This is my response.
My father is not dead. The word dead insinuates a final period which simply does not exist for me. He has made his transition into the next lifetime where he gets to be with God and walk with his father; he loved that man more than life itself. While I am unable to speak to him physically, Daddy has never left my side. His body may be in the ground but his spirit is free. It brings me such happiness to know that now there are two strong male figures that support me as ancestors. Instead of being sad, I choose to celebrate his life and often speak of him as if he were right here with me because he is. He lived a long wonderful life and touched more people than what we knew as evidenced by the tributes and sacrifices that were made to be present as he transitioned.
As life continues to take its course, things will slowly resume to a normal pace. A life cycle has completed itself as another one will begin. It is a beautiful day. It is a beautiful life.

James W. Sawyer
Sunrise: 12/22/34 Sunset: 6/11/14
Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things.
I will put you in charge of many things.

Abundance: The Funny Thing

It had been a long marathon performance week. Harp season had officially arrived and I was in full swing. Long evenings turned into long nights filled with music and confirmation emails. Sleep, eat, and harp; the only things on my agenda. New connections gave hope to more work in the new year. In the middle of it all, a person crossed my mind.

Years ago, I used to visit a missionary on the north side of Miami. She was a much older woman with years of prayer under her belt. She worked Psalms and conducted brief church services for those that sought her assistance. Her old home stood with a poor roof; nothing that could not be fixed with the proper roofing company. I had not seen her since 2008. I decided that I would take my friend to see her so that we could share in the joy of God.

I prayed for guidance to the home as I did not know if I would remember how to find it. Once in front it, the garden was quite recognizable and the roof was still in great need of repair. Unfortunately, the gate was locked; this was new. It had never been locked before. There weren’t any neighbors that I could ask about the situation. Suddenly, the front door opened and out walked the kind missionary. We called to her and she ventured out to greet us. She told me how much I had crossed her mind the other day; no doubt the same day that she had crossed mind. She had to close her church due to the city declaring her home unstable. Nonetheless, she gave all of her glory to Jesus and offered us Psalms for us to reflect upon throughout the week. We told her that we would check on her in the new year and made a contribution towards the maintenance of her missionary endeavors.

This morning, I awoke in tears. I asked God to please show mercy upon this woman, his very dedicated servant. She worked upon his behalf. I wondered how so much abundance had been given to me and yet this woman could not gather the resources to take care of her home. I never wanted to ask about her family or insurance; however, it was obvious that neither were progressing for her if either existed. It did not seem fair to live in a world where no bank could help her. My fingers found an email address to connect me with possible organizations that could possibly help her. Tom Joyner may even hear from me. They say it takes one person to make a difference. This may be my opportunity.

A Moment in Church

I was not far from my destination. As my eyes looked to the left, the church stood silent in its historic glory. From the day that I entered this particular church in Downtown Miami, I have thought of nothing but returning. There wasn’t a rush for me to be anywhere. My feet soon carried me to the rusty pink place of divine love.
While checking the hours to see if I could enter the beautiful doors, a homeless woman entered without noise or hesitation; as if she was giving me the okay. There were candles lit and people lost in prayer and altar salutation. A back pew attracted me. Soon my eyes were closed as I felt the reason why people flocked to this special place. A spiritual presence lives there.
In truth, I have an interesting relationship with church. I am not Catholic or Christian; however, being inside a beautiful church sanctuary is something that I enjoy. Its comforting to know that there is a place in the middle of busy streets and angry people where everything is silent and people can openly talk to God. It felt nice to have time to myself in this environment. A refreshed myself with Holy Water as I quietly exited and rejoined the outside world.