I had to step away.
A soft step away from hustle and bustle, from zooming and not with a red sports car,
not even a bumper car game, but a real game of life, of meetings, during a pandemic and Civil Rights Movement. Taking a rest, a step away…
From tough Unfinished Conversations about Race,
From launching an InclusiveVT Making the Chair Fit Series,
From participating in national webinars on race and White women allies
A rest step. I never fully step away, still on email, still fighting, still responding, still working, but at least not zooming. We can never really stop fighting for civil rights, social justice, and equity. But, we can take rest steps. I wrote about rest steps a few years ago.
When I step away, as I often do about two or three times a year, I take time to read and to write.
A few years ago, I went to the ocean and saw dolphins and rainbows, I squealed in delight, when the dolphins appeared out of nowhere.
Last year, when I took a rest step, I started on a new book. I’m looking for an agent for this new book — trying to move into mainstream, and away from academic publishing. Writing queries, sending drafts and synopsis. We will see where this journey goes. But, I wrote the initial draft during a three-week step away last year in July. I stepped away to Nashville, to a retreat, to lay out 45 years of journals about my life, to try to find a theme, a meaning, a purpose. And, I did.
From Black Girlhood to Black Womanhood: A Wild Womanist Journey is the story of a young Black girl, maybe four or five years old, who was, apparently, showing up and showing out at one point in time. A Black girl, who while acting womanish and sassy, angered her father. He shouted at her, “Who do you think you are?” With tears running down her face, the little girl said, “Queen of Sheba.” Seemingly out of the wild, out of nowhere, a little Black girl claimed to be Queen of Sheba, the queen of an ancient African community, who visited King Solomon in the Bible.
This little girl, Blackwildgirl, knew the deep secret of her soul and claimed it, spoke it, and owned it. And because the world is never ready for Blackwildgirls, she is silenced for she has shared her secret too soon. She will become a victim of a bargain made without her knowledge by her parents. She will be dismembered and dethroned, placed in a backpack, zipped up and rendered invisible, marginalized, and broken. Yet because Blackwildgirls can never fully be silenced, Black women undertake underground initiation journeys to find their Blackwildgirls and to reclaim their Queen of Shebaness and their Divine Feminine.
I am the little girl who claimed to be Queen of Sheba. I am the little girl whose Blackwildgirl was silenced and placed in a backpack and zipped up. And I am the woman, Blackwildwoman, who went on a 45-year search for Blackwildgirl, and ultimately finding, loving, and reuniting Black womanhood, beginning at the age of eight. The journals reveal defining moments—decisions made by others, decisions made by me, and experiences created by the universe—that set my life upon a particular path. This is the story of that path.
From Black Girlhood to Black Womanhood: A Wild Womanist Journey is the performance of my life in acts, stages, and scenes. The performance unfolds in six initiation stages divided into four acts. The titles of acts (Descending, Watering, Weeding, and Blooming) reflect the work of gardening for our life journeys begin as seeds, planted deep in the earth. Through watering and weeding, our spirits are tested through trials and tribulations. When we survive, even with our scars, we are able to bloom and blossom, ultimately producing fruits and flowers. Each act includes different stages of the initiation journey and each stage is revealed through scenes that represent snapshot moments, experiences, and wild woman wisdom.
I’m excited about this project and hopefully waiting for the next step, even as I step away.
This year, for my rest step, I stepped away into the countryside.
I stepped away and reminded myself of Howard Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart, and his urgent gentle insistence that we should “establish an Island of Peace within [our] own soul.” (p. 17). And into that Island, we should assess our plans, our point of being, and where our life should go (p. 18). He encourages us to take time for self-examination and quiet time in the Presence, a time for “checking and rechecking, testing, and retesting, of one’s life in the light of what seems more and more the right course, the right way for one’s life.” (p. 21). He lets us know that it is ok for us to voice our feelings and that there is relief in that voicing; that we need to find the power that comes from being “still and cool” in our own mind and spirit, and in our own thoughts, to find the “lull in the rhythm of doing,” to “center down, to sit quietly and see one’s self pass by.” (p. 28.). He reminds us that , “It is good to make an end of movement, to come to a point of rest, a place of pause.” (p. 29).
I am in that pause.