For the past several weeks, Blessed are those who mourn has reverberated in my head. When I distract myself with tasks, it whispers clearly once the chaos settles. Matthew 5:4 just dwells.
By faith, I might make 35 years old in the coming December. I thought I was done mourning. But God has said no. Today again came: Blessed are they that mourn. That pesky verse from the Sermon on the Mount does not relent.
And with it I pause and see the word “suffer” as though it is written across the top of my forehead. In many ways, Cerebral Palsy has branded me with that word.
Suffer…. then mourn
Then suffer again.
Very few can conceptualize why internally I project as though I am fighting against the grain of my reality. I took a moment today and looked around the memories of my grandmother’s old home.
The home that sheltered me from Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Rita. The home that was a stream of drunkeness, ridicule, hard conversations, and card games. This home is and was the seat of sibling rivalry, spiritual gathering, worldly pursuits, and dirty secrets.
For all the blessing such a home gave, it remains a solid shell of the season to come. In its walls inhibit the tears of a clown, the heartache of divorce, the shadow of death, and the breeding of new growth.
I woke up from slumber today in the waning light of the sun. The light makes walls look like a pungent yellow. The only yellow that resembles it is the color of cloudy urine. It’s a yellow that browns like craters, lingers upon unclean counter-tops, a ghastly yellow like the nicotine droppings upon edges of a newly printed storybook.
That some color blotted the cleanliness of a New York home in Baldwin’s mountaintop story. And I realized that yellow even with new fixtures, boards, plaster, paints, and wall coverings might never be totally gone.
I mourned about that yellow as I poured cheap coffee in the East Baton Rouge Parish Library mug that I had received for reading books, words of life on slates of promise.
And I sat down smiling at God for the little bit of faith I had that brought me to this Monday.
Success with the library system is a gift that comes directly from the worried sadness I feel constantly. I made myself a tuna sandwich and a spinach side salad and listened to a song by Jordan Feliz. The song was called “Never Too Far Gone.”
When I get quiet in the silence of my own mind, I don’t value the persistent hum of speeding cars pulling aimlessly into driveways, whirring lawn equipment washing away the leaves of a timid season, or striving rifts between men and women who have already pledged in their tones to talk at each other rather than addressing their grievous feelings.
I have faith that God has not forgotten me. When I added my picture among the billions of images that inundate the Facebook and Instagram servers, a bit of suffering lingered behind my smile.
Yesterday was World Cerebral Palsy Day. This is a day I try and remember as hallowed because Cerebral Palsy has been how I got educated. Cerebral Palsy is how I got humiliated. And it’s also what I am first…even before I realized the full weight of being black and male.
I used to scorn Oprah’s character in The Color Purple. I used to tell myself she was ignorant for sharing how often she had to fight within her sectioned off Southern world. But for a long time, I was Sofia and I could no longer mock her because I finally understood her pain. I finally realized what a life of anger and pain does to a fragile heart.
I used to believe that all my suffering was made manifest in arthritis, in the immovability of joints, the tremor of veins, the stiffness of palettes.
I thought it was in being alone. Now I know that suffering is simply part of the joy of life.
I had to become acquainted with the different seasons of suffering before I had the knowledge to look deeper. I now understand that my suffering is not about yellow, the bloody ruddy orange of release. My suffering is a condition of understanding that peace is present in releasing things.
I’ve released people into the atmosphere realizing that I can matter without needing to court them. I am learning how to travel light, to dream beyond the yellow wallpaper, to seek my own vessels.
I have become content with watching the train pass. And I have boarded my own car.
Mourning and suffering is a process we should not run away from. Because I did not release my sadness properly, God has allowed it to show up in triggers, songs, tales, and stories that connect the cord to his grace.
The strum of information does not stop. I have stopped myself. I need to pause, to process, to cancel, to consider, to connect with God more than I connect with the trouble of the world.
In my English, I find him. He sits there explaining to me that information is power. In my streaming music selections, I see him telling me to appreciate his grace. In my shifting opinion, I see Jesus orchestrating my perfection.
I am in the midst of a purge. I do have Cerebral Palsy. But I am slowly and steadily aware that some people I once valued cannot join me on this new journey. I am being made new in this current season.
There are different pieces to THIS puzzle, pieces propelling me AWAY from my comfort zone. And I cannot simply forgo worshipping God just because one person is not ready. I’m ready to go and live in the light. I take no thought whether I am followed.
God does allow suffering. He does allow mourning. But through the tears, he will turn putrid, stained yellow into white. He takes my weathered eyes and releases my triggers. I have anxiety about what is to come. But God is my balance beam. And I must spread myself upon the new plane.
I must scatter my bread upon the water and chase authenticity. For one full connection is a thousand times better than three frayed, wiry fragments.
For a fragment of suffering is poison for a season of complete sentences.