As a little girl attending church in rural Alabama, I always had an emotional reaction to the hymn A Charge to Keep I Have.
“A charge to keep I have
A God to glorify”
Of course, like most of the other young children, I thought the song began, “Hey Charles!” Who Charles was I didn’t know and apparently wasn’t too concerned. Because I never asked any of my elders what he had to do with God or Jesus. I just knew I loved that hymn. A deacon would start in a confident, clear and loud voice and the congregation would join in. Then he would sing/recite another stanza and the congregation would repeat after him in a melody passed down through generations. My favorite stanza was and still is:
“Oh may in all my powers engage
To do my master’s will”
At the time I thought, “I’m supposed to do what’s right”. Which meant no sinning. Except the “I”, I was referring to doesn’t have any power. This brain and body ain’t never able to do right. That team is always up to no good to their own detriment.
Consciousness, my spirit, my existence is my power and whatever I focus that consciousness on is effected for good or ill. My focus should be on what is unseen and not on what is seen. In other words, I AM should be concerned with nothing save I AM and the rest takes care of itself, including the timing and type of doing. Seek ye first the kingdom. That is my master’s will.
I have begun, second by second, inch by inch to focus on Spirit more than the material. In fits and starts mostly and lately, the most amazing things have begun to happen. My meditations have been powerful.
A meditation session is what started me on this post. I considered the hymn and I considered those who question why Black people still call themselves Christian, the religion of those who oppressed us; one of the tools used to oppress us. I think for the first time, I truly gave this some thought. I believe that the moment the ancestors began to call upon the name of Jesus he became their God. Period. It had nothing to do with religion. So powerful was their connection to Him that through centuries of subhuman existence the light of their spirits shone brighter than the north star.
The most cursory examination of the African’s journey in modern western civilization reveals miracle after miracle. It was the ancestor’s steadfast belief that there is power in the name of Jesus that kept them through generations of lives full of crushing, malignant experiences. What’s more, they knew that, though their oppressors knew the name; they did not know the man or the nature of His power. The moment the ancestors claimed Him, He was theirs. Through the rape, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the art, the songs, the laughter, the marches and the stubborn determination to live anyhow; they called Jesus and He called them His own.
It is this irony more than anything else that gets me each time I give it thought. The name used as a tool of oppression is the name of the Being the ancestors used as a cornerstone. They built their futures upon Him and demonstrated not only their humanness but their divinity. More than their misguided oppressors they revealed themselves as children of God. That focus of will, that. – I AM agreeing with the I AM- began a process. To this very day it is still operating. So I believe in and I am connected with Jesus, and I remember that I have a charge to keep.
Addition: I haven’t been having a big prayer and meditation session everyday because of obligations that may take precedence at that time. But I do try to remember to set my intentions and maintain mindfulness wherever I find myself at that time. I am not so spiritually minded that I am of no earthly good, so I got work to do. It’s time to start healing and that begins with honesty about this society and all of its ills. However, I am grateful for what is and expectant of what is to come. The children are well.