In order to know our routes, we must know our roots.”
“Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be Still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness), stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, (looking away from all that will distract us and) focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
This past year I have taken time to reflect on my past travels, since I haven’t traveled in a while. One of my most prized possessions is a handmade Sankofa statue. It is a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. This reminds me that revisiting the past can inspire and give insight for our future. There is wisdom from the elders.
This past week I have immersed myself in Cicely Tyson’s memoir, “Just as I Am.” She passed away at the age of 96. When she was born, doctors told her parents that she might not live three months. However, she shared that her parents had a faith in Christ and determination that she had a call on her life. She was an advocate, artist, actress, inspiration and living legend. One of her statements: “I don’t know when my day is coming. None of us does. Which is why, as soon as my lids slide open each morning, I say ‘Thank you. Thank you, Father, for the gift of another day. Thank you for just one more breath. Thank you for the sacred opportunity to live this life.’”
Now that she has transitioned, her words and the Hebrews 12:1-2 passage are like marching orders as we continue. This past season has reinforced the importance of living our true and authentic self. As time is measured, our days are more treasured. Cicely reminds us that each day is an invitation to begin again. Each day is an opportunity to walk in our gifts. Each day is an opportunity to love ourselves, our family and friends. Each day is an opportunity to live this life. Each day is a sacred opportunity to live this life. She now joins the cloud of witnesses of ancestors who have gone on before us and encourage us at this moment. I have found myself repeating her words as I wake up each day.
Shortly before her transition, during an interview Gayle King asked her, “When the time comes, what do you want us to remember about you?” Her answer was simple.
“I’ve done my best.”
Live each day and see it as an opportunity to bring Christ’s light into the world. When we live out the life and gifts within us, we shine that light. We honor God and the ancestors who paved the way before us. After all their sacrifices, how dare we not live out and use our authentic gifts. We have a cloud of witnesses.
Did you know the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. He is known as the “Father of Black History” and his life’s work and the mission of ASALH since its founding in 1915 represent a living testimony to the year-round and year-after-year study of African American history. The mission of ASALH is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community. The 2021 theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” The Black Family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present. Go to asalh.org.
Blessed to be a blessing to you.
Minister Sheila P. Spencer is an author, educator, poet and speaker. She can be contacted at CustomMadeInspiration@gmail.com, and her website is sheilapspencer.com.