I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. ANd when you can feel that, and be happy to feel it, you've found it. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
I've been praying in earnest these days. Asking for guidance in this journey toward acceptance, forgiveness and self-actualization. I speak prayers out loud and in silence as I cook, as I read, as I write, as I speak.
I have my own special relationship with God. Churches, scriptures, or hymns do not define our relationship yet I feel God most within safe spaces, sharing intentional words, and songs. My talks with God are becoming endless, abundant, and boundless. I pray as I would talk with any friend. In times of loneliness and through distraught feelings, I feel a comforting presence. A presence that I eases my mind and calms my stormy moods.
As a child, I used to pray. Growing up in a Baptist environment, we prayed a lot. I thought of prayer as asking God for things and promising to be good.
If you let Ma buy me that Barbie doll, I'mma be good the rest of the YEAR! AMEN
Please let me get an A on this test. I believe in you! Amen
The way church folk talked about God made him sound like Santa Claus, granting wishes and blessings to those who are good. So I treated religion as conforming to a lifestyle in order to get rewarded in life. Although I never found solace in Sunday's sermon, I enjoyed the energy of the service. The spirituality of a black church is a powerhouse. The way the pastor sings-raps-yells his sermon. The "shouting" music. Watching people fan, fall out, and run around the sanctuary as they feel the Spirit was like a live play. I always felt a sense of community, love, and peace once the choir would close service out with a Kirk Franklin song. I found God in that.
Today, I hardly go to church though I miss it dearly. Even as a child, my definition of God, church, and righteousness always seemed different than others'. While other children accepted what they were told about living a "righteous" life, I had questions and...other concerns. For example, I noticed the hypocrisy, jealousy and gossip that plagued the church. Since it was a small one--as many Baptist churches are--my family drama was always in someone else's ear.
But no matter how hard I have attempted to distance myself, I know and understand that churches founded my spirituality. Black baptist churches are symbolic to faith, anointing, and perseverance. The wisdom I've acquired has been nurtured in church. My faith in the unknown encouraged.
Over the years my idea of church, God, and spirituality has expanded tremendously. The world has become my church and, like Shug Avery, I see God in everything. Even in the darkness. Even in doubt. In spite of despair. My sermons come through the mouths of friends and strangers alike who engage in vulnerable and liberating conversations. I have labeled them as "holy moments," fleeting, but impactful moments of beauty, truth, and light.
As an artist, spirituality is the basis of my creation. I speak through art as a documentation and record of a new way art has liberated a limited way of thinking, an act, or an idea. God informs how I see the world and how the world is reflected back to me. I find God in love, expression, movement, speech and silence. The spirit that guides me and comforts me is the same that inspires and encourages me. Through belief in God and spirituality I have realized my gifts and am a better artist because of it.