Monday, November 9, 2009
Four years ago, I went on a women's retreat with my church and one of the exercises that we took part in entailed us sharing an experience or a story with another woman and at the end of our sharing, giving... entrusting our heart to that woman. The cut out heart had our names on it and 4 years later, I still have Renee's heart.
Renee is almost 20 years older than me. I don't have too many friends in their 50s and if it were not for the church and this spiritual exercise we probably would not have even crossed paths. We have nothing much in common, except our church affiliation. Actually, if I tell the truth, Renee is someone I would have avoided at all costs and shunned if she bothered me.
For years Renee abused drugs. On Sunday mornings I would see her shuffling through the streets surrounding the church. She looked terrible. She had no concerns for herself or her family. She is now far removed from where she's been.
I have a cousin who abused drugs for years who just last week graduated from his sobriety program. Me and my mother attended. He was dressed to the 9s in a brand new suit, fresh hair cut and new suede shoes. Sharp! He even spoke at his graduation. He spoke of how he ruined his life, how God saved him and how proud his mother would be if she could see him now. I proudly sat there with tears in my eyes thinking of my aunt and how she prayed for years while he was incarcerated or while her furniture, food and money was stolen. My aunt attended Abyssinian Baptist Church back when Adam Clayton Powell was pastor and those Harlem church ladies wore some big ole hats. My aunt had so many... hat boxes on top of hat boxes and each and every one of them... gone. But now my cousin no longer steals but blesses back. When he brought my ticket to me, there was a $100 bill along with it. I know he deeply regrets what he did while abusing drugs and this was his attempt to give back.
I sit and wonder sometime about my church involvement. Am I going through the motions or does this "thing" really have an effect on me? Am I maturing spiritually or am I the same ole woman with the same ole issues? The fact that Renee is more than someone I share the pew with but a sister whose heart I hold, means that I have grown.
This coming Friday Renee has paid for my ticket and I am attending a "Clean and Sober" party with her. Last week, Thursday, me, my cousin and my mama tore the dance floor up at his graduation. I am so very proud of these two people... my family. They are stronger, wiser, better individuals and I'm so glad that I am able to see their turnaround.
We didn't all walk into the church holy and righteous. We all have our vices, some are just more noticeable than others. I know a lot of people are haughty and arrogant about their churches and their spirituality but it's more than dressy suits, shoes and hats. It's more than speaking correctly and sitting upright, pristine. And what kind of place would the church be if nobody had an past life or any tests in order to have a testimony? Even those who don't attend a church... we can miss out on great people and wonderful experiences but shunning those who lives don't mimic our own.