Destiny Ramjohn Edit. Musings on the Inanimate.

I have been known to be poetic. I found these oldies but goodies in one of my  grad school textbooks. Circa 2003, I think:

Edit.

Someone one said to me, “People are supposed to make mistakes- that’s why they invented erasers.”
I wish people would stop making errors with other people’s hearts so we can render the eraser obsolete.

and

Musings on the Inanimate.

My mother said something once that I did not understand.
I don’t understand a whole lot, like why I am awake most mornings to see the clock read 2:43; that’s am, ok.
Like why television romances are not much closer to reality’s deception, pain, or…all the other things women in reality experience. And don’t give me that, “it’s just tee vee” bullsh*t.”
Like why productivity and procrastination take the same amount of human capacity.

You inspired me, Nikki, to throw words on a page without a care for whether or not they make sense. And redirected my focus. Thank you. It is cathartic.

The Legends stopped playing soulful melodies that went straight from my ear canal to my tear ducts.I love music that can make me cry. I love this pencil because it makes me happy.

A range of emotions provoked by inanimate objects. Not one reaching out to touch me the way I need it.

I can’t remember what I was going through during that season, but it was clearly a difficult one. I’m going to hug on myself today for whatever it was, grateful that by His Grace I am no longer there.

Psalm 24

I resonate immediate with Psalm by it’s powerful opening words, “God claims Earth and everything on it” :

24 1-2 God claims Earth and everything in it,
God claims World and all who live on it.
He built it on Ocean foundations,
laid it out on River girders.

3-4 Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?
Only the clean-handed,
only the pure-hearted;
Men who won’t cheat,
women who won’t seduce.

5-6 God is at their side;
with God’s help they make it.
This, Jacob, is what happens
to God-seekers, God-questers.

Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter.

Who is this King-Glory?
God, armed
and battle-ready.

Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter.

10 Who is this King-Glory?
God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
he is King-Glory.

I think that first verse resonates so well with me because it reminds me of the prayer I stuck on my mirror in my old Harlem studio in 2011. Back then, my prayer was for God to lead me into a complete, utter dependence on Her. The Scripture I posted on my mirror back then was Nehemiah 9:6You’re the One, God, you alone; You made the heavens, the heavens of heavens, and all angels; The earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them;
You keep them all alive; heaven’s angels worship you!” So here in the Psalm we see the parallel between the two verses of meaning for me. The Psalmists declaration at the opening orients you (me) to the vastness and greatness of God immediately, as soon as you (I) open the Scripture. Said another way, if ya’ don’t know, now ya’ know. I also found humor in v3 that reads “Who can scale the holy north-face?” because as a Brooklyn girl that came of age in the late 90s, only one image comes to mind when I hear the term, “north face”. Here (of course) the Psalmist is not referring to bubble jackets! Rather, the north face is the most difficult side of the mountain to scale. Who but God! Can I mention just how much I love The Message version of the Bible? Always so modern and educating. v8-10 warns of an impending battle, perhaps against sin, death, false prophets, who knows? But the text is clear, the King of Glory is ready for war, “armed and battle ready,” and “God of the Angel Armies.”
So what is the takeaway here? I say maybe it is for us to continue to rely utterly on God the majestic Creator of all the Earth and to see Him and praise Her, and worship Her because you must NOW establish whose side you are on for an Earthly battle and if you do this God seeker (v6) He will also bless you with personal victories in your own individual battles.My prayer today is as follows:

I am a God dependent, God seeking, God praising, God worshiper, awake, expectant, and battle ready!

While I hold complete, unabashed adoration for the Lord, I am especially sensitive to this language of being “battle ready” today because of the ways in which current US and UN efforts are unfolding in Syria. It hurts my heart to think of the possibility that the US and its allies will wage yet another war. Equally troubling are the reports that President Assad is using chemical weapons against his own citizens. I won’t even pretend to have the “right” answer, but in praying for diplomacy without force, maybe Psalm 24 is guiding us as a nation to look away from fighting our own battles and lean more heavily on the God of Angel Armies’ strategies. Praying for peace.

Psalm 6

I’ve read this Psalm so many times over the last week that I think I could recite by heart. I feel connected– deeply connected– to it because it is so RAW and so DESPERATE:

1-2 Please, God, no more yelling,
no more trips to the woodshed.
Treat me nice for a change;
I’m so starved for affection.

2-3 Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue,
beat up badly in bones and soul?
God, how long will it take
for you to let up?

4-5 Break in, God, and break up this fight;
if you love me at all, get me out of here.
I’m no good to you dead, am I?
I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!

6-7 I’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed
has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.
The sockets of my eyes are black holes;
nearly blind, I squint and grope.

8-9 Get out of here, you Devil’s crew:
at last God has heard my sobs.
My requests have all been granted,
my prayers are answered.

10 Cowards, my enemies disappear.
Disgraced, they turn tail and run.

The sadness and sheer exhaustion indicates to the reader that the author is nearly at her wits end (v6 “I’m so tired of all this” and v2 “I’m so starved for affection.Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue, beat up badly in bones and soul?”). The words seem almost forced to me at v8 (“Get out of here, you Devil’s crew”). Who among Us when at their wits end has the strength left to muster such a strong command? I know at times when I’ve felt this kind of emotion, most of my energy is spent completing only the necessary tasks. So it was startling for me to see how quickly the psalmist went from groping around in the dark to having all prayers answered. And that it was at that moment in v8 when I read the command that the light bulb moment occurred for me.

In my experience, most of my blessings haven’t happened in the blink of eye, in some immediate v7 to v8 kind of way. They’ve happened slowly, deliberately and, with diligence. So I wonder if the author here has not really received those answered prayers that she is referring to. Maybe, she is speaking her truths into existence– speaking to the future instead of focusing on the difficult present. The author’s determination to pen it, to recite it, and CLAIM IT is reminiscent of another later Psalm 31 (v23-24) which is “I know you take care of those who pray and spend time with you” and “I am trying not to lose it, to not give up, I expect you will save me soon.” Perhaps the lesson One (me? you? We.) can  take from this is that even in the midst of travails, our words have POWER.

We are guided, no, instructed by this psalm to SPEAK LIFE despite. To believe, to trust and to focus on with confidence, in demeanor, in words, and even in facial expressions, the time when according to Her plan, our prayers are answered.

Did I just say even our facial expressions should be focusing on the time when our prayers are answered? Yes, yes I did. What would that look like? A smile of course! So, you want me to smile even when I am in the midst of the storm? Now you’ve got it! The simple physical act of smiling can make you happier.

According to the Scientific American:

“It would appear that the way we feel emotions isn’t just restricted to our brain—there are parts of our bodies that help and reinforce the feelings we’re having,” says Michael Lewis, a co-author of the study. “It’s like a feedback loop.”

What the author is saying is, sad face = sad emotions and (you guessed it) happy face with a smile can lead to happier emotions. Other studies have shown that even when that smile is not yet real it has the power to lift our mood. 

If science can demonstrate that a “not yet real” smile has the power to lift our moods, what do you think not yet real words can do to our mood? Or our lives?

What if, even when I didn’t feel it, I said : “I am so happy today!” or “I can feel God’s majesty working in my life” even when that’s the furthest thing from what I am feeling? Or if I exclaimed, “Man I feel GREAT about myself!” or “I love my body!”

I don’t know what would happen if we spoke these things daily, but I have feeling that like the psalmist we might begin to see our prayers answered sooner than we think.

In close, “I AM POISED FOR GREATNESS!”

What not yet real sentiments will you speak into your life today?

Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is such a whimsical entry

1-2 Bravo, God, bravo!
Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor him!

God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.

God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.

God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.

The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.

7-8 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”

10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.

11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

I find this Psalm playful, joyous, and insightful. Observe what is outlined in this passage. Watch the majesty of God’s power that can move mountains (v8), while simultaneously being concerned with the business of strengthening and bringing peace to individuals (v11). God is a masterful multi-tasker, indeed!

Who but God can focus on all these things and still complete them with sheer excellence. (Hint: Not me.) God has cedar trees trembling, deserts shaking, and mountains with a spring in their step. It makes me wonder if the psalmist isn’t trying to shout like God’s thunderous voice that we little humans are as important, as powerful, and as great as every other one of God’s creations. We possess the same beauty as the sunrise. We contain the strength of floodwaters. We have the power of the Universe and one million galaxies within Us!

My prayer today is that we would see within one another the same gloriousness we so easily observe in the natural world.

You are a Wonder.

QOTD: On Conservative Christianity

Powerful words for powerful times:

In our time, when many seem to think Christianity goes hand in hand with right-wing visions of the world, it is important to remember that there has never been a conservative prophet. Prophets have never been called to conserve social orders that have stratified social inequities of power and privilege and wealth; prophets have always been called to *change* them so all can have access to the fullest fruits of life.”

– Obery Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus

*cue the DJ*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQqOWh2aOY

Six Word Memoirs.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that it has been observed that I have a tendency to use more words than might be necessary to get my point across.

Image

See? If I re-did that sentence I could simply say: In an earlier post, I mentioned that it has been observed that I have a tendency to use more words than might be necessary to get my point across. I’ve ne’er been known for brevity. Whatevs.

Imagine my dismay when I heard about Smith Magazine’s Six Words Memoirs, which provokes writers with the following challenge: “One Life. Six Words. What’s Yours?”

From Wiki:

Smith was founded January 6, 2006, by Larry Smith and Tim Barko. Taking a cue from novelist Ernest Hemingway, who, according to literary legend, was once challenged to write a short story in only six words, Smith Magazine set out to do the same. Hemingway’s six-word story read: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

In November 2006, Smith’s editors Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser gave the six-word story a personal twist, asking Smith readers to tell their life story in just six-words. Smith readers submitted their six-words via http://www.smithmag.net, and Smith’s Twitter account. In early 2007, Smith signed with Harper Perennial to create the Six-Word Memoir book series.

The New Yorker published a piece about some of the entries into Smith’s book contest, which was followed by a book party where invitees and contest winners were encouraged to write their memoirs on a nametag. “Six words, so much freakin’ pressure” mine would have probably read.

Ever interested in new opportunities to create community, I sent the challenge out to my family and friends. A few highlights from their responses:

living my life like its golden
Love to live; Live to Love.
Children remember blessings abound when Christ’s around.

The last one with 7 words was submitted by my Mom. Clearly, verbosity runs in the family.

It was a challenge to reduce my life to SIX WORDS so I tried to focus only on what mattered. My first draft was 9 words and I could hear Dave Chappelle yelling “Wrap It Up.” Here’s my second and final draft:

Vulnerably encountered Creation, thoughts became things.

Me likey.

Let me know in the comments below if you take the challenge. I’d love to read your six words.

Psalm 34

In no particular order, Blogging the Psalms continues this afternoon with Psalm 34.

34 I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

11 Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

15 God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

16 God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.

21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

22 God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

I like to think of this Psalm as the “Psalm for Dummies” because of the simple beauty and comprehensive instruction it provides. The basic guidelines are so easily digestible that anyone can understand– those from eight to eighty! Here is a Psalmist who says: You are hurting. You are unhappy. Things are tough? Don’t Worry. God is living on your praises! God shows up when you announce Him. If God is present in our speaking praises (v3) and in our worship (v11) then how can he “occupy” places where He is not welcome? Like schools where prayer is discouraged or not considered? Systems will remain in disarray until we invite God into these spaces. I don’t think it takes a revolutionary overhaul, just one willing soul. If we truly want a shift, one that can transform our nation we need to invite God into every aspect of our lives. We have a tendency to compartmentalize God– relegate Him to only the church or only to Saturdays or Sundays. God is not limited by our man made religions, so to be clear, I am not speaking of a “Christian” only God.

If we really want to see God move, God change, and God rebuild, we need to stop segregating God from our public and private spaces, and invite Him into our everywhere.

Rain: A Metaphor for Freedom

The neat thing about being a packrat is how even when you forget yourself, your documents and keepsakes always remember you. This week I am cleaning out old spaces to let new light in.

I am going through boxes that are more than a decade old and found this piece of awesomeness.  I wrote a poem for a class on November 3, 1999. I was 19 and a sophomore at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Aggie Pride!

Here it goes:

RAIN

I prayed for rain and I patiently await her arrival,
I called for her to calm my sorrowed spirits,
Yearned for her to speak freedom’s fate into existence.
Cried for her to remove fear from my heart when
Looking into the lazy blue eye of the devil himself.
He was speaking in a language unknown,
Leading me toward oceans of certain death.
I prayed for rain and still I wait.

I danced for rain and she pretended to be oblivious,
I performed for her as if she were the Creator himself,
I perfected my movement before the sunrise on the Coast,
Now I hail her with spiritual songs under
Blazing death in fields of King White.

I dreams of days when we were together,
Running beside the Nile in laughter,
Speaking of old times with Pharaoh
I was taken away from her comforting arms,
Now I dance for her and she cannot see me.

We were as one, in the likeness of the spirit,
Together as sisters in time, I crave her cleansing,
Nurturing, purifying my soul.
I will give my life and fight till the death to find rain,
We will be reunited, or fighting I will remain.

*END*

In the photo you can see that the Professor writes “Did you notice the many places you could have left out words to make it more poetic”  <– I still STILL suffer from this issue of being verbose!

Let’s not focus on that though…I got an A.

Rain: A Metaphor for Freedom

Rain: A Metaphor for Freedom

My piece reminds me of a great worship song by MercyMe. I’m going to go back and read it again, and use this song as a soundtrack. You too?