interlude iv: june newsletter – moonlit hours

loved one,

there’s something so sacred about the moon as it rests above us. its great pull, the way it guides the waters that have the capacity to rage wildly. the subtle nature, the way it shades itself for days & in its own cycle, fully reveals to remind all of the great wonder. this great beauty it holds from a distance pales in comparison to the accounts of its beauty by those granted a chance to explore it near. a land that lacks gravity, with craters & potentially undiscovered life.

that land is vast & incomprehensible to me – so the same with this pending transition back home to the united states.

loved ones, i write to you in the night fall of my time here in south africa – month eight of ten, to be specific.

i don’t write you with any new discoveries. instead, i come before you shrouded in mystery, with a burden of anticipation. i am coming home to you with many stories that i am excited to share, but in this time i feel it necessary to just to sit in awe of the view before me.

my eyes have witnessed many things in this time – sights of love & trauma. they’ve all converged together to make a year away from you that has been full. of course, with the anticipation of returning home to you, there’s also a great sense of loss that has overtaken my being. i am leaving not only sacred land, but a sacred people conjoined as one body, with a sacred story that i will cherish until my dying day.

i get chocked up when i think about life without this body of people. this context has become a daily reality for me. the way of living i’ve come into, though familiar in some ways, has shaped me in new form. a part of me selfishly hopes i’ve done some shaping work also in these relationships.

this darkness hums over me, but do not confuse this darkness for some sort of negative agent. i’ve had to fight a battle within myself over the last month, refusing to let the sentimental way of being that has taken over me, snatch me away from the present – it can’t, though it’s capable of doing so. because the moon above me is guiding me as i be, as assigned by the divine creator.

i am carried in strength by all phases of our moon in this evening hour. from dusk to the approaching dawn of my return home. what i love most about the evening hours, is the space it gives me to create from an introspective angle following the buzz of the daytime. & this has indeed been a time of reflection of all that’s been before me to witness.

what i’ve created in this time of silence is words of gratitude – to you & to this community. in our morning devotions before work, we’ve been focusing on the forming church following the ascension of jesus christ. the themes that sing aloud for me are the acts of not only the apostles, but of the larger community. i think this theme continues on throughout the epistles. each and every single person contributes to the mission.

each & every one of you have been guiding me with gentle whispers as i’ve walked this path of service. i send gratitude & thanks again, because you’ve guided me to new things.

so, as i sit in this moonlit hour reflecting on all that has been, with eyes slowly but surely welling up for a great release of tears, that i hope i’ve made you proud.
i’ve accomplished dreams here – of ancestors, alive or perished & of my own flesh. it still boggles my mind how i made it through this entire year, not merely surviving, but thriving with love & a story to tell.

i sit on this patio, where the wind whips across my face & the stars illuminate the scene around me, with a grin. this moon above me is the same where you are & the sky is as beautiful where you sit & in this, we’re connected. i wonder what has been of your life since we’ve last spoke, if ever. i wish you love & the full experience of life alongside it.

with love & peace,
rjmy

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chapter II – identify yourself

prelude II – little black boy by rjmy

i, just like you, know pain, little black boy.
i, also, have wallowed in the sorrow of this nothing.
i, even, have a back that has been battered & bruised;
they built a great thing on top of me, too.
i just want you to know, i am your brother
&
i will take time to press my lips against your wounds;
you, too, can tend to mine,
because ,i, just like you, know pain, little black boy
.

– rjmy

chapter II – identify yourself

one day, me & monilise were sitting on the porch.
we were discussing many topics, one of them being the united states.
he specifically wanted to know the state of her black bodies & how they identified themselves.
his television led him to believe the lighter pigmented folk enjoyed the sweetest of coronas & that the darker ones were disoriented.
he wanted to know why the black body uttered lazy english & was always seen laying on the ground, lifeless.
i found this seven year old boy to be prophetic, measured in speech, and powerfully wise – i have envied him ever since.
as he gave me the floor to speak my version of the truth, i felt far beyond obligated to speak with dignity, intellect, & and some sort of clarity.
i tried to explain the way the black body tries to ration itself: black, african-american, african, etc.
monilise cut my words short – “why would any black person from america say they are african-american, or african?
the disgust on his face left me with an distinct sadness – i knew what he was perceiving.
i presumed that he believed those who knew themselves to be black, african-american, or african, god forbid, to be without identity.

i have been staggering ever since that time, loved ones.
i am writing this piece from a place of sorrow & brokenness.
i cannot help but to feel that monilise knew far more about me then i could ever pretend to know about myself.
i have long walked with a strange hurt in my heart, but never have had the capacity to put words to it.
some days, my body fails me miserably.
there have been days my body has deprecated so deeply that i felt like i could not spend another day on this earth
i have had to see a therapist about my mental health, or lack thereof.
i have experienced illness at the most inopportune times.
i have had to face many demons of days past that i expected to be long gone.
i am spending so much time trying to heal myself, that i often wonder if my eyes can see anyone else.
how could i dare say i am accompanying anybody when it seems my body is the one that needs rescuing?

the truth is, that i walk in this world with many labels, but with no clear identity.
do not hear respectability coming from my speech – i am standing on a far different island of despair
see, i wear these labels like a thousand gold chains, but it is not my fault that i have no identity.
in fact, i share a common bond with the black & brown bodies in this place through that.
we live in a world that has snatched identity right from our grip & left us in that place, held captive.
we have been gentrified, seen apartheid, felt the wicked hand of militarized police & worked for little to nothing, hoping we could get a little dignity.
we have been seen secondary to coffee shops & the comfort of whiteness that lives on an island of ignorant bliss.
monilise was confused by the black body in the united states, because he thought they would offer his distant kin something greater than his own state of being.
monilise knew full well that the black & brown bodies in this country have been long contained by systems,.
he knew that these systems spoke of a new freedom granted, but indeed, his people were tortured & tamed.
what he had hoped for, was that upon my arrival, i would speak of a great place, where he could be free if he worked hard & saved up.
sadly enough, i could not give him what he wanted & actually, i had to tell him that i hoped for the same type freedom to be given unto me in coming here.

i am not disappointed, just made aware of this universal truth:
there is no place in the world where the black or brown body is free.
i am learning, history’s many stories of marginalization are not separate, they are all interlocked.
these stories come together through the sins of abused power & greed.
i believe that god, in the beginning, gave us all we needed, but that we lacked trust, so we took.
in this time & place, i find this shared struggle to be a bit endearing.
i am learning & growing from a people who know what it means to be in long-standing pain.
we are journeying together in struggle, in despair, in a hope that one day, absolute freedom will come.
our struggles have different storylines in specific, but are bound in the fact that, our human life & dignity are on the line daily.
there is no need to suffocate one’s struggle to fully hear another’s; we share in this brokenness together.

where is the hope?
maybe we should not be so quick to rush to that place.
what if we just sat here in this sorrow, instead of logging out to escape sad news.
if there is hope, at least through the lens of christianity, it is that brokenness always is redeemed by resurrection.
if our stories walk alongside that, then maybe freedom is beyond this life.
is that really hope? i do not have the answer.
i, am far too carnal sometimes, & i that causes me to wonder, what the purpose of being on earth is.
what i do know is, i find the love of song & dance here to be so sacred.
it appears to be the most direct sign of reconciliation in this place.
i have fell in love with this, too.
when i sing & when i dance, with this beautiful community, it seems that i have a control over my body that feels quite foreign.
it seems as if when we join together in these two, we are shouting out to god, saying that we believe you have promised more & sit here in expectancy.
yes, the world hurts, but while we have breath in our bodies for just this little while, let’s celebrate what we do have.
that is peace beyond my understanding, far too vast for me to attempt to give words to.
this peace gives me hope, even if the state of our world tries to drain that hope.

  • rjmy

chapter III might not be free, either…

chapter I – when the time comes.

please enjoy this preamble from before i approach…

dear loved one,

i’ve been dying for the time to ask you this;

in the midst of the time moving, are you ever not with it?

have you ever volunteered yourself to more stable standing than this?

have you ever found yourself in such stillness that you are like stone?

has your mind ever ceased itself from quivering in the half-hearted dormancy of task?

has your heart ever dared itself to beat in such a way that it mocks the rhythm of life?

have you ever had the guts to tell yourself that day & night are the only formalities we have to hold?

when has all of this ever been in doubt for you?

oh, the way in which the sun & moon dance around our anxious souls,

we are begging for our efforts to be requited with a pause for adoration,

but lo – time hauls on.

if time marches to a certain rhythm, then why, oh why, loved one, does a second feel so elongated when my eyes are caught staring at its breast?

it feels as if my brain is cramped by anticipation, of what, i do not yet have the aptitude to fathom,  but i stand, loved one – an unsettled soul.

i am rushing the time to move me to an undisclosed location.

& it is there, i am hoping that time will release me from its captive clutch.

time,

its stench has entangled my heart in feelings that what is next is what is free.

its promises strangle my headspace so, thus creating a scarcity of oxygen in my medulla oblongata.

how can i then, form a thought to crawl towards the freedom that has promised me that it lies ahead?

let me also ask this of you,

when have you not been held responsible to the tic of your timepiece?

when have you said to yourself, ‘today, before i do, i must first, be’?

after all, have you not heard it said before this?

we are not human doings, we are human beings.

& before we are ever caught doing, we have first become.

therefore, the duty in which we are called to is always bound up in who we present ourselves as.

today, i charge thy soul to explore what it is to be.

to not lock thyself captive to the misrepresented slavery that is accomplishment.

you are lonely in that place, & there is no longer need to deny such.

we all need breath to carry on,

& it is breath that is that stable ground to build upon.

your body finds an unrecognizable peace there, loved one.

it is there,  you will realize that the seconds on a clock tick aimlessly,

but you, loved one , you will land one day soon.

whenever the time so chooses to come.

                                                                                                          rjmy.

 chapter I – releasing my timepiece

is time a human created concept?

if so, who’s to blame for the fact that we are never satisfied with it?

& if thousands of years are just a twinkle in god’s eye, then what exactly is the need for seconds, minutes, and hours?

at times, i feel in purgatory to these minuscule ways we measure the moments,

it’s because i’m always so zealous for the next best one.

somehow, they all pass on with a distinct silence & i am then left confused with what to make of all the time we spent in that place.

i find myself near blood thirsty for time to move me into something better.

i catch myself peaking at my iphone by the second, expecting myself to accelerate time by constantly staring.

it’s as if i’m certain time looks upon me with favor and will bring me the things i feel i deserve for waiting the way it asks me to.

as it is, those yet to be seen moments just won’t approach me soon enough,

so i am given an ultimatum: adapt or perish.

they say time waits on no person, so i would wither away here if i expected time to acquiesce my hope.

so, what shall we say?

is time, in of itself, a waste or are we wasting time by overlooking the beauty of right now?

——-

in being here, i am challenged with time.

this has been a great thing & i rejoice in the ways that this time has renewed me.

in fact, if you asked me to give you a one word answer about how i feel at this time along this road,

i would say,  renewed.

i am finding myself in both familiar & unfamiliar spaces.

in both of these settings, time is asking me to do one simple thing with her: “slow down & be with me.”

this did not feel as if it were a foreign idea before i arrived to this place.

i’ve always thought myself to be well timed in my steps.

& i would say this time has not told me that i was living a lie,

no, instead, it has reminded me that there’s no need to rush it.

yes, there may be moments approaching that seem greater than these seconds,

but why isn’t being right here at this time enough?

why are you so anxious, ry?

these questions have often filled my aforementioned headspace.

i’ve often had to require myself time to draw a deep breath since the day i moved into my flat in umphumulo.

i came into this village expecting serendipity – an unorthodox perfection in the way i speak, think, & feel.

this, loved ones, exhausted my body beyond measure.

i’ve felt my body examine its surroundings & attempt to self-depricate.

i cannot recall the times under bated breath, my body has spoken the words, “i cannot be here.”

this, is because, i came here to do – and do damn well.

my body so dearly cherishes the things i have been able to do over the last few years.

traveling, experiencing, and rubbing elbows with extraordinary human beings has been like sipping of the finest south african wine.

i have been able to create, collaborate, and innovate;

these times have been life for me.

yet, loved ones, here, i am none of those things i’ve done.

in this community, i am known for what i am being.

this, has been humbling, but has also offered me this quirky sort of redemption that i am falling in love with.

my life is not just a run on sentence, as it seems to be in the places i call home;

here, i am the man waiting for the next word after the comma that i have been to this point in time.

however, you should know, i am not searching for this word anymore,

it will be shown to me as i continue to show up & be.

moreover, the pace of time, here has shown me the fruit of deep patience.

a patience that says, “today, you may fail, & that’s okay.”

i’ve always been afraid to fail you, loved ones.

falling short seemed like the point of no return upon making my decision to be here.

i remember telling myself that every day had to be flawless or as close to it as humans may come;

this is because you believe in me.

you took a leap of faith in allowing me to come be on this journey.

how dare i waste our time otherwise?

in choosing to be here every single day, i have unlearned this self-imposed stress.

a lesson that my zulu family has taught me is that being able to see another day is progress alone,

& that it is always better to fail than to fail to try.

oh, how thankful i am for those words.

as the time has progressed, i’ve found this unmistakable beauty in right now.

this day may seem empty to you, but imagine what this time means to someone else.

on this day: life, death, celebration, and defeat happened somewhere.

& it was all remarkable & necessary in its own remarkable way.

if i’m learning anything, it is that there’s never a day that means nothing at all.

i could be bound to the four walls of my living quarters or out exploring something unfamiliar;

today has its own distinct purpose & value that can’t be duplicated.

today is the only day you get this day, so love it like it’s yours.

today, i am choosing to value your worth, time.

today, i hear you when you say that it doesn’t matter from where you come, but that you exist.

today, i don’t want to forsake you by manipulating the meal you’ve served me, time.

today, i am nourished in your name.

amen.

rjmy

chapter II is imminent…