Month: October 2017

Lenten Safari: 40 Days/WEEKS 2 Blissful Authenticity

People, Places, Platforms and the James Island Cowboys



After the interview, I saddled up on Baby Girl for a pic with Dexter.

Getting my first magazine article published has resulted from an interesting turn of events.  Several weeks after moving back home to Charleston, SC in April, I was invited to accompany a friend to an event.  Since I’m usually up for new experiences, I agreed to go–not knowing exactly what kind of event it was, who would be in attendance, where the event was being held, or even who was hosting it.  Looking back on it now, it seems like when you least expect it, people, places, and platforms will conspire to propel you into sacred purpose.

So as it turns out, the event was a 60th birthday party, and this was not just any party.  It was THE party of the century, at least to me anyway.  At a beautifully decorated outdoor gathering space on the banks of the Ashley River under the stunning starlit skies of the Charleston low country, this party was “on and poppin” with live music, dancing, food, spirits, desserts, and fascinating people.

In fact, I had the pleasure of meeting some of those fascinating people that night.  After being introduced to a new friend and timidly telling him that I was a writer, he offered to introduce me to a friend of his, who was an editor.  Having just met me, though, I probably half-believed him, but he was absolutely sincere about his offer–so much so that he found me right before I was about to leave to make the introductions.

Unexpectedly, this series of events–meeting new people in a new place offered me a new platform that aligns with my gift of writing.  Those connections that were made six months ago also coincided with an event that happened two months later.  That second event happened one night in late June when I stopped at the Walgreens on James Island after attending my niece’s summer camp orchestra concert.

Upon walking out of the Walgreen’s, I discovered two cowboys on horses in the parking lot.  Now, I don’t know what you encounter when you visit the drugstore, but cowboys on horses seemed a bit unusual to me.  So, I did what just about anybody else would do, I took pictures as proof and posted them on Facebook.

My first meeting with Fancy and Desmond in the Walgreens parking.

My editor friend happened to see the pictures and thought that a profile on the cowboys might be a good piece to include in an upcoming edition of Charleston Magazine.  Of course, neither of us had any real idea of who these cowboys were until I saw them again a few weeks later.  It was at that second meeting that a fan approached and referred to the duo as the James Island Cowboys.

Now that I had a name to share with the editor, the possibility of this article really began to materialize, and I eventually received the assignment to interview and write the profile on the Cowboys by August 31st for the November issue.  Click here to read the profile on the James Island Cowboys entitled Range Rovers.

The seeming synchronicity of events that have led to the publication of my first magazine article has offered me some poignant lessons about sacred purpose.  First of all, be open to new people and places, for they may offer us access to new platforms.  Secondly, though sacred purpose may seem to elude us for weeks, months, or even years, stay vigilant, because we never know when the stars will align.  Our responsibility is to be ready.  Finally, people, places, and platforms will not matter if we fail to seize the opportunities presented to us.





Lenten Safari: 40 Days/WEEKS 2 Blissful Authenticity

Truth-Speaking, Storytelling & Sacred Purpose



425449_343878465654422_1776949090_n-e1508553490792.jpgThere is a proverb in the Bible, which states that your gifts will make room for you.  I would add that your gifts will make room for you–even when you don’t understand  them or haven’t fully embraced them.  These gifts will give you access to people, places, and platforms that you never imagined, and could not have predicted.

As your gifts make room for you, they will also serve as breadcrumbs, a compass, your personal GPS to direct you to sacred purpose.  Well, that is, if you choose surrender over self-righteousness, patience over pride, ego over essence. 

You see, everyone has gifts and a sacred purpose, but we don’t all operate in both of them.   Sacred purpose requires soul work to bring our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy centers into life-giving coherence that creates synergy to actualize our sacred purpose instead of separation that perverts it.

I am reminded of my first experience of serving as a keynote speaker at a women’s retreat in Florida.  A woman I had met and befriended through my work at Florida A&M University recommended me, even though she had never actually heard me speak.

In fact, I had moved away from Florida several months before the retreat was to take place, and there were some rumblings among the powers that be about whether I should still speak.  In the midst of controversy, the woman who had recommended me (and never heard me speak), even successfully advocated for me to be the keynote as scheduled.  Talk about your gifts making room for you!

The little Gullah-Geechee girl from Charleston, South Carolina had grown up into a woman whose gifts had made room for her to address an audience of over 600 women in Florida–of whom 99% were White.  On the path to sacred purpose, my gifts of truth-speaking, storytelling, poetry, creativity, and presence offered some bread crumbs and gave me access to people, places, and a platform.

Over three days, my love of stories served as the basis for me to extract practical wisdom from biblical stories and my personal journey by putting those stories and my own into context.  As part of my story, I was planning to share a very personal poem that puts me, a descendant of Africans enslaved in America, into context.  Given my predominantly white audience, I had some concerns about sharing the poem entitled “I Am She” on the second night, but I felt compelled to do so.

For shrinking away from the reality of my context does not make it any less true, but it would certainly make me less authentic.  After all, our stories are not all joy and laughter, fun and games all the time.  The truth of our stories and our history is often inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even incomprehensible, but in honestly sharing our stories and telling our history, we create space for awakening, liberation, and transformation in ourselves and in others. 

I will never forget speaking with an elderly White woman at the end of the weekend who was just overjoyed that I had been the speaker.  As we spoke, I soon discovered why.  She shared that when she was a young woman she felt compelled to go to segregated parts of Florida to teach Black children, and for doing so, she was rejected and hated by White people.  And here I was…an example of what she must have hoped and dreamed might be possible, but could and would not be possible without courageous acts that disrupt the norm.

Beyond our stories, our personal and collective awakenings to sacred purpose may be inconvenient and uncomfortable.  They may even ruffle some feathers, repudiate some expectations, and disrupt the status quo–resulting in external pressures that might try to coerce us into conforming.  However, when we awaken to what’s true internally–although “all hell is breaking loose” externally–we feel at home with ourselves and we yearn to live from that place of blissful authenticity.  

So, interestingly, as I brought my story to the foreground with the American mythology of exceptionalism in the background, it was bound to be disorienting–especially for those who benefit from the systematic oppression unconsciously and consciously.  It had to be downright disturbing to those whose sense of identity was built on the myth of whiteness.  This mythology is so pervasive that most White people–even the most liberal and the most Christian–are not aware of how much it defines them and confines others.

The morning after I shared my poem, I had a brief conversation with the woman who recommended me.  She mentioned how it was interesting that I was speaking on that particular weekend, because there were also retreat weekends that were predominantly Black.  Then as she started a thought about what she had realized the night before, I finished her sentence with “that I’m Black.”

Now, of course, she knows that I am Black, because this skin I’m in could never ever pass.  But  in a world where whiteness is the norm, she did not know what it means to be Black.  Like most White people, I imagine, she has probably never been in spaces where she was the minority, where she was completely erased from the narrative, where her voice was often muted.  Most Black people, on the other hand, are in those spaces all the time.

So, the gifts that made room for me, illuminated a sacred purpose beyond engaging the crowd.  It is not just about telling a good story or sharing some poetry, but for me, it is about co-laboring with the divine to heal racial trauma.  For your gifts will make room for you, but sacred purpose expands your capacity to make room for others.


When we operate in sacred purpose, our gifts are activated to release our divine potential, power, and possibility to transform the trajectory of our individual and collective lives.  It represents a shift from personal achievement to meaningful work, from mindless consumption to conscious community co-creation, from “power over” leadership to “power with” leadership.


Lenten Safari: 40 Days/WEEKS 2 Blissful Authenticity

It’s Never Just About You


nephew weekendLast weekend, I had the privilege of hanging out with two of my three nephews, spending time with a civil rights legend, and witnessing the harvest moon usher in a new season.  Although distinctly different, each experience reminded me of the gift and ever-present reality that it’s never just about you.

I was reminded that although the pursuit of sacred purpose obviously is about me, it’s never just about me.  It is about the generations that are coming behind me and those that have gone before me.  Indeed, it is about something greater than myself and more potent than the singularity of my sacred purpose.

But what exactly does my sacred purpose have to do with my nephew weekend?  Well, although I never received the call to motherhood, I am called to be an aunt, a coach, a strategist who nurtures God-given potential.

So, the weekend presented the perfect set of circumstances, because I was already scheduled to spend the weekend with 9 year old Miles.  On Friday morning, however, he wasn’t feeling well, and I had to pick him up from school early.  Being sick had slowed him down only a little bit, but nothing steals that child’s joy.  In fact, by the time we reached the house he was fully recovered and back to his high-energy self.

Now, Keyshawn–the 17 year old–had made some poor choices the week before and needed some auntie time.  So, I picked him up from school to at least spend the afternoon with him, but had no plans beyond that.  The fact, however, that his poor choices had resulted in consequences that essentially cleared his weekend calendar and left him without his phone, made spending the weekend with Miles and me sound like a teenager’s dream weekend.

Honestly, I had forgotten how much Keyshawn could talk, because he was usually glued to the screen of his cell phone.  But without his phone, he still wanted to communicate, and he showed me no mercy!  Seriously, I am grateful that we had an opportunity to talk about life, choices, and, of course, Tupac.  We talked about all manner of things that had peaked his curiosity, but I mostly listened, and sometimes chimed in “Google it.”  I am not the walking encyclopedia…that would be his other aunt.  I am “stalker auntie” who might show up at his school unannounced just to make sure he’s on his P’s and Q’s and to keep the school in check.  Don’t miss the fact that schools are systems designed to leave certain children that look like him behind.  Well, that’s a topic for another time.

Anyway, Miles is more of a homebody but after Keyshawn and I coaxed him to leave the house Saturday night to grab a bite to eat, we witnessed something wonderful.  On the drive back to the house, we saw the massive harvest moon in all its majesty.  We marveled at how big it was and how close it seemed, and I contemplated what might be ushered in by this harvest season, this final quarter of 2017.

Then, at the close of nephew weekend, I had the honor of spending time with a civil rights legend on Sunday.  I got to know her as a person, to better understand her struggles, and to discover where our experiences, passions, and interests intersect.  We had both recently returned home to Charleston and were experiencing some similar challenges associated with that.  We had come back to a place that has an outer image of progress, but in mindsets and in lived reality, it remains stuck in time and a particular historical pattern.

After a tumultuous year, the first weekend of the last quarter of 2017, which also ushered in the harvest moon, was providing a sign post.  You see, the harvest is much bigger and a lot closer when we approach it with the understanding that it’s never just about us.  This past weekend was about connecting with sacred purpose as a family member and a global citizen.

As a Black auntie, my sacred purpose this weekend was to love on and allow two Black boys to just be children in a white world that has already deemed them dangerous and set a precedent for treating them as adults.  It’s never just about you and yours, but it is also about those beyond your circle.  It is about the generations behind us that we have been entrusted to nurture into wholeness and the fullness of who they be. 

As a conscious Black womanist, my sacred purpose is to connect with the generations that have gone before me, and to carry on their work of liberation.  For me, that work begins with the liberation of Black and Brown people from the racial oppression that is in the very DNA of this country, its systems, institutions, and structures.  So, it’s never just about you, but it is also about the greater harvest that comes from collaboration with those on the front lines.  It is about having the capacity to harvest by drawing on the strength of the ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.

It’s never just about you.  It’s about planting the seeds of individual, communal, and global wholeness to harvest crops of radical redemptive love.  Depending on where you sit, stand, or kneel in the existing system, you may be required to give up power, privilege, comfort, and convenience to make others whole.  After all, that is what Jesus did when he gave up the comforts of heaven and the convenience of his power and privilege as the Son of God.

It’s never just about you.  Others who may have been relegated to receive only crumbs from the table may need to re-position themselves and reclaim their power in order to recover their wholeness.

It’s never just about you. It’s about the web of interconnection and interdependence that we all share with each other and with all creation. 

No, it’s never just about you…it’s about them, it’s about me, it’s about you, and ultimately, it’s about us.