I am the first to admit to being guilty of consorting with notions of defeat, but those thoughts are fleeting as I often circle back to an event that is indeliably seared into my consciousness… as one of those seismic life changing events that spoke to the power of love.
The car accident that brought me front and center with the divine, never fails to provide the necessary contrast to dust myself off and continue on.
Seconds before impact.
As the lights from the oncoming car illuminated my interior with an eerie glow, I knew that I was going to die; that day, on that dark Baltimore street.
But, I emerged unscathed.
I learned that God doesn’t have to shout, because whispering is enough.
As I reflect back on that day, I realize the lesson that was being conveyed to me.
A second degree burn on my left hand.
Temporary loss of motion and swelling in my right hand.
A chest contusion.
And swelling on the left side of my face where the airbag hit and knocked me unconscious while the car filled with smoke and caught fire.
I went back to work a couple days after the accident and I bore witness to how many of my colleagues didn’t even bother to ask how I was. The lack of concern was simple. I was merely a butt in a seat, not a human being worthy of a modicum of respect and this uncomfortable truth stayed with me, despite the efforts to push it to the recesses of my mind. It was at that point that I began to realize that I wasn’t using my hands for what God had intended – I remember my Father telling me that I was spared for something bigger than just getting by.
He pointedly asked me:
“Son, what about your writing? I always told you that words would save your life.“
I brushed my Father’s question off as frivolous convincing myself that his faith in me was exaggerated, but in retrospect those illusions of scaling the ladder of my Fortune 100 corporate parent had me blinded.
I had to learn that… my hands were compromised because I neglected to use them for a purpose. I had a chest contusion because my heart was in the wrong place – I gave it to an entity and people who did not have the capacity or wherewithal to love me back. My face was swollen because my haughtiness convinced me to avert my gaze from the search for God’s face.
I was given a mandate to do something of consequence and instead of choosing obedience – I chose cowardice.
Accordingly, I had to be broken and brought to my knees, so that I could realize the power of humility.
I did the only thing broken people can do, I looked up and started walking the winding paths in search of God’s face, asking myself… Why?
Why didn’t I give up?
Where did these reservoirs of perseverance that I drank freely of come from?
Why did I survive?
I heard the echoes of my Ancestors beckoning through the stories that I kept close to my heart and I strained to listen with a spark being ignited through a discussion with my Grandmother/Bigmama (who was 91 at the time of my epiphany). It was her dismissal of fear and disregard for the prospect of failure that always served to fill me with awe, so I resolved to figure out what made my Bigmama tick.
My declaration that I was going to trace my family tree was met with a cacophony of laughter from many quarters, but over the course of the past four years (at the time of this writing). In the process of using the skill sets from my journalism background to trace several segments of the maternal and paternal sides of my family going back over 2 centuries. I’ve born witness to a history that speaks to a resolve and a dedication to family that is indelibly seared into the confines of my DNA. The process of becoming a genealogist taught me a lot about myself and it provided a necessary historical construct to the perseverance of our family that my Elders always alluded to and it has inspired me to chronicle about what this search has taught me.
One of the most beautiful ironies of my research would happen whenever a roadblock in my research presented itself and I resolved that the work was done, but like clockwork, I would encounter a cousin that received the same mandate to answer the call of our Ancestors to find out the… why behind who allowed us to be.
As matching DNA kits and oral histories began to align, I felt the rejuvenation of my faith guiding my steps on one of the greatest journeys of my life. The search for who I was led to the waters of purpose and its ongoing redemption. I’m accused of bringing my family together and it is a mantle that I cannot claim.
Because it was my family and the love that they selflessly gifted which served to put me back together as omnipresent reminders of purpose.
Trouble don’t last always, but grace most certainly does.
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