“We are in trouble as a People” is a statement that I hear many times over the course of a week from people in the community, both younger and older.
I hear stories from children who tell of the painful experience of being isolated from their biological parents, children who have been abandoned by their families and their community. When I hear mothers and fathers say that they “hate” each other, and that the only reason they interact is to parent the child they have in common, I find myself moaning and groaning just to cope with the heaviness that sits in their words and their stories.
I find myself moaning and groaning to release the heaviness which has penetrated my heart, a heaviness that has been transmitted from generation to generation as a result of the experience of living under conditions of restriction, constraint and brutality — conditions uglier than any other to take place in human history.
Just as our people created the art of humming or praising in song, I find myself turning to the moaning and groaning as a form of relief, because I know that if our Ancestors were able to survive what the enslavers brought upon us, then surely I can — we can — survive what we are now bringing upon ourselves.
During times of great struggle, pain and suffering, the spiritual teachings of our Ancestors surge forward from within us. Though we may not be in tune with their message and may not recognize the sound of their voices, somehow, in spite of ourselves, the teachings surge forward. Though I have grown to become an elder, I admit that I am in a daily struggle with myself to preserve the capacity to tap into their voices and to avoid the distractions forced on me to be unconsciously defiant toward my own natural SELF.
Though I am now an elder, something many people do not know about me is that 35 years ago, in December 1978, I was shot and left to die. But, with great power from the Divine forces in Creation, I was able to live, to see a new day in a new way, and to become the elder that I am still becoming.
Following this horrific event, I committed to living a conscious life, to seeking a way of standing, walking, and giving thanks to the Ancestors, both those that lived and those that give rise to Creation; I committed to living moment to moment in tune with the spiritual forces that exist in Creation.
From a Black cultural perspective, as the very first people of this Earth, our brains are wired to connect at the Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul level. This level is culturally unique to the descended children of Mother Africa — the birthplace of Humanity.
It is at this crucial moment in our history as a people that we must resurrect, preserve and protect this wiring of the brain and its innate intelligence and acknowledge that this intelligence is integrally connected to how we have survived and how we will continue to survive and thrive as a people.
Never separated from each other nor functioning as individual agents, our intelligence — the Black mind — possesses built-in channels through which the spiritual teachings of Creation flow and circulate. It is at this crucial moment that we must allow the Body, Mind, Spirit, and soul to operate as the original design called for them to do.
With this piece of writing, I seek to bring forth the knowledge of our cultural understandings of the Divine in Creation to which we as a people have maintained a strong connection, but which we have unconsciously been disconnected from and consciously learned to distrust. I invite you to experience your innately strong connection to the Divine and to gain awareness of its powerful energy as you, as I, walk through each day, living in harmony with the Creator and the forces in Creation.
The following are suggestions for opening the channels through which the spiritual teachings of the Divine can circulate:
Rise with the sun and listen for a revelation from the Divine.
Be thankful at the deepest levels to be alive.
Breathe and be conscious of the flow of your breath.
Greet and embrace your spirit and own its path.
The goal of these practices is to limit the impact of our daily distractions and deepen our self-love as well as our love of one another.
I welcome you on this journey, and I invite feedback, especially from our mothers, elders, grandmothers and other mothers.
Thank you for reading and engaging.
Elder Atum Azzahir is executive director and elder consultant in African ways of knowing of the Cultural Wellness Center. She welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.