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Palm Sunday Testimony and Praise Report

13 Apr

Testimony and Praise Report

Despite the fact that my stomach was acting up all last night and I got very little sleep I was determined to attend Palm Sunday service. My original plan had been to go into Manhattan but I changed that because with tummy troubles and subway delays I felt I should stick close to home. Even with insomnia and pain something inside me was so excited about today. When I made my right turn down Fulton St. I said Lord guide my feet and show me where to worship today. I briefly stopped at one of the many storefronts Churches lining Fulton Street but the Lord had me keep walking until I arrived at Pleasant Grove Tabernacle. You guys know I’m not much of a church goer but today I was lead to go and I’m glad I did. My late Beloved Aunt Helen Garcia had been on my mind and I think it was her who was prodding me from beyond the veil.

High School Graduation 1977

Aunt Thelma, me & Aunt Helen Garcia

I arrived in time to hear the last part of Sunday School. The congregation is very friendly. At once I felt very comfortable. Like most churches you get a program so you can follow the service but God had other things in mind and I’m very happy that Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr. went with the flow. Praise and Worship developed into prayers for healing. Now keep in mind though I’ve lived in Brooklyn over a year, I’ve never been to Pleasant Grove Tabernacle before neither have any of these people seen or met me. Folks were dancing in the Spirit and Bishop Jamison came down from his pulpit and began to pray for various individuals. He prayed for me and one of the Deaconess prayed also. As I said before nobody knew my condition but that sister prayed especially for healing! God Knew! I’ve been fighting not only physical troubles but battling emotional ones. Today was one giant Healing Service. Sisters suffering from cancer, depression and other ailments were ministered to. During the service Bishop had clergy and congregation hold each other by the shoulders and pray. Once again another different Sister came to me and prayed. A dam burst and I cried. A burden was lifted from me. We all also had the opportunity to go up for additional prayer from Bishop and to be anointed with oil. I went. Now that evil spiritual force was banished from my mind. I left church thinking right, acting right and rejoicing.

However my heart goes out to Karyn Washington who committed suicide at age 22 earlier this week. Those of us who are older have a frame of reference, we know that life does get better but of course we all need help. Maybe Karyn was ashamed to say she was depressed. Perhaps the burden myth of the “Strong Black Woman” was too much for her. I know how she feels. I’ve been there. I was young once upon a time but thanks to strong parents, caring Aunts and a solid spiritual base I made it. Please everyone let’s make our Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, and other places of Worship caring networks where people young and old can run to for help and guidance. Remove the Stigma of depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Be somebody who cares. May God rest your soul Karyn Washington.  May all who suffer find sanctuary.

http://blackdoctor.org/442252/karyn-washington-black-suicide/?omcamp=es-bdo-nl&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Black%20Doctor%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=Lifestyle

 

Escape from the Hotel California

10 Oct

Escape from the Hotel California

The Eagles – Hotel California

http://youtu.be/BjIJGxULpgo

Welcome to the Hotel California, 
Such a lovely place, (Such a lovely place) Such a lovely face
They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California,
What a nice surprise, (What a nice surprise) Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
and pink champagne on ice, and she said:
“We are all just prisoners here,
Of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers
They gathered for the feast,
They stabbed it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door,
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,
“Relax,” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive,
You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave”

Island of the Dead Arnold Böcklin  (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Island of the Dead
Arnold Böcklin (Swiss, Basel 1827–1901 San Domenico, Italy)

Suffering is acknowledged and discussed in Christianity, Buddhism and many other worldwide faiths. Suffering does endow us with wisdom beyond our years. I think suffering brings us a degree of wisdom, understanding and compassion only available to those who have gone through and come out on the other side. But the key words are to come out from the land of suffering and not stay living there. Let’s not take up residence in our own personal “Hotel Californias.”

Look to find Joy in everyday life. That’s why I Love taking photos. I Love writing poetry, stories and commentaries. As many of my friends, family and co-workers I also have a ridiculous sense of humor. I’ve learned to laugh at myself. I love to hear people’s stories. Not to make fun of them but to find the common points in life that we all share, no matter if we are Christian, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. We have to find laughter in the midst of our greatest tragedies, triumphs, victories and even our defeats. Our respective faiths do not ignore or make believe suffering does not exist but our belief systems help us to transcend the mutual trials and tribulations of life.

Let’s look at two different scriptures from the Holy Bible that deal with suffering. Let’s also keep in mind that Biblical scriptures also have a historical and social context. While Biblical characters may or may not have been actual living people the dilemmas, emotions, and feelings are very real and very concrete.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

New International Version (NIV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We are all a little broken. The cracks & chips cannot always be hidden nor should they be. We wear our scars like Warriors. These are the battle wounds that give us character and grace for living. Suffering can produce clarity of the mind, purity of the soul, and a different perspective on living.  At one time or another have we not all been Fallen Angels looking to be restored to the Kingdom?

 

Psalm 42

New International Version (NIV)

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

 

The people portrayed in the Bible aren’t Super Heroes. They are everyday folks like you and me. If they did not have the foibles and fragilities of the human condition we could not and would not be able to relate on our level. Times change and the modern world has encroached upon our 21st lives but we still possess the same frailties’ and vulnerabilities of soul and spirit as our Biblical ancestors. They are real people with real problems. Sometimes they achieve good solutions sometimes they mess up totally but provide an example for us of what not to do.

I agree with the Buddha’s teachings that becoming too attached to anything, idea or philosophy can lead to suffering. However suffering in and of itself is not a character flaw. In fact some suffering helps to build your character and gives you a greater ability for compassion. That being said there is external suffering which happens through no fault of our own and there is self-imposed suffering caused by bad decisions and errors in judgment.

While watching a TV show about the late writer, author and playwright Tennessee Williams I felt such sorrow that a man with so much talent was derailed from a productive pathway.

He did have plenty of success with such plays as, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and many other famous plays and stories, however he was done in by the effects of a dysfunctional family, depression about his mentally ill sister Rose, and eventually he was done in by drugs and alcohol. The suffering he felt regarding his sister Rose was the sadness and frustration of seeing a beloved sibling encased within the walls of mental illness and being powerless to help her. His internal self-imposed suffering was caused by bad choices regarding substance abuse.

I too am a writer and author but through my Christian faith and Buddhist practice I will avoid the path of destruction that seems to plague many famous, writers, musicians, actors, and artists.

Suffering should invite self-examination of our lives. Are we repeating destructive patterns in our lives? Am I living right? Am I a blessing towards others? Do I negate others feelings or emotions just because they may not be in line with my own experience. In addition to prayer what are some practical hands-on ways I can help my sisters and brothers in need. Am I so fixed into my own suffering that I’m allowing “Wounded Soldiers in the Household of Faith” to fall on the battle ground.

The ultimate question is, “Is it time for us to change course?”

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

10 Aug

 

Secret

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret/#like-244527

Would you have kept this secret for two generations? Maybe my Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept secret the fact that my grandfather Hugh Banks killed my Great Grandfather Daniel Finney (Hattie’s Dad) so that she could keep her sanity.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, humiliation. I’m sure in the beginning after the murder it was all there deep within her soul, mind and spirit. But My Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept the secret so she could raise her three daughters (one of whom Mable was to become my mother) in relative peace, quiet and safety without passing this terrible haunting to future generations.  No judgment from me, only understanding.

 

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney Banks

Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney was born Feb. 1905 in the poor coal mining hamlet of Davy, West Virginia.  A real looker in her youth blessed with a great sense of fashion and good taste Hattie though living in poverty was able to enhance her beauty through thrift and the ability to create something out of nothing.

With African and Sioux blood running through her veins her beauty soon caught the eye of the young men in the town. One named Hugh Banks seemed to have good prospects. Hugh like her Hattie’s dad Daniel R. Finney worked as a janitor. Not a high living job but one that could support a wife and future children. It also didn’t hurt that he was a strong strapping young man who was easy on the eyes.

They married sometime in the late 1920s when Hattie was in her early 20s looking forward to a bright future. Their first born child Mable Banks, (My Mom) was born May 2, 1930, and then came Helen on September 13, 1931 and finally Gladys on May 2, 1935. However as time progressed and the marriage wore on the initial first joys of wedded bliss gave way to drinking and horrible physical abuse from her husband Hugh. He regularly stayed out late getting drunk, spending the food and rent money on booze. A spirit of anger possessed him and he took out all the days slights on Hattie and their young children. Hattie always put herself between Hugh and the kids when he went on these violent tirades taking the brunt of the physical beatings and verbal abuse.

Finally on April 30, 1939 after a particularly horrible beating Hattie couldn’t take it anymore. In fear of her life she grabbed her three little girls and ran to the shelter of her parents’ house not far away. A very drunk Hugh Banks in hot pursuit of his wife followed her and demanded that Hattie and the girls return home with him. Hattie’s Dad, Daniel James Finney told Hattie to stay indoors while he went out to confront Hugh. Daniel Finney seeing Hugh in a violent drunken rage refused to allow his daughter and granddaughters to go with Hugh. An argument ensued and Hugh took out a pistol shooting Daniel Finney in the chest killing him instantly. Daniel’s brother Charlie Finney saw the murder, called the police and Hugh Banks was arrested.

Hattie and her mother Mary were devastated and in addition for many years Hattie carried the burden of guilt and shame that if she had not ran back to her parents’ house for protection perhaps her Dad, a strong healthy man would have lived even longer than his age of 75 years at the time of the shooting. Her choices haunted her for a long time but at least she found peace knowing that she had protected her three innocent young daughters and pride in the great love her Dad had for his family laying down his life for them.

Newspaper Clipping of the Murder

Daniel Finney Murder Newspaper Clipping

My Grandmother strong in her Baptist Faith eventually forgave her wayward husband supplying the information for my grandfather’s death certificate after his untimely death in prison from tuberculosis at age 30. No one from my grandfather’s family came to claim the body and he is buried  in the Potters Field attached to the prison.

Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Grandfather Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Daniel James Finney

Daniel James Finney Death Certificate

Shortly after the trial my Great Uncle Clarence came for Hattie and her daughters taking them to Dayton, Ohio where my mother grew up and later met and married my Dad Edward G. Palmer a union of 40 years that produced me and my brother Stephen.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when by then both my parents and my grandmother had gone onto glory. I met my common-law husband who like my grandmother’s relationship with her husband started off with great dreams and hope for the future but gradually deteriorated into an abusive relationship from which I too sought escape. For our final year together when the emotional, physical and psychological abuse was at its worst I prayed to God that this man would leave me and he did. He left me for a younger woman. A sigh of relief. A burden lifted from my shoulders. However though his physical presence was gone his psychological presence was rooted in my mind and soul. Though I had forgiven him it took years to dig up the roots and weeds of self-doubt and self-hate he had planted within me. Spirit never fails and after a brush with death from a minor stroke at age 49 and being Blessed to see 50 I began to experience a Change of Life. Not just from menopause which began physical changes within my body but spiritual and emotional changes. During all this upheaval my ancestors were with me, guiding me every step of the way. Each succeeding year as I progress through my 50s has brought me greater enlightenment and spiritual growth. Once I made the decision to answer my calling in this life doors open, thus here I am today to carry forward my Grandmother’s Legacy and be a blessing to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

But unbeknownst to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother a little girl cowering in front of a dusty little used attic window had peered out becoming an eyewitness to her Grandfather’s being shot to death by her Dad. Mable was always the quiet one of the three girls who took in many things but let out little.  As the Bible says  of conversations concerning Mary and Jesus, Mable Finney Banks was a small girl who took in and absorb all the things around her and pondered them in her heart……………….  From now on the events of that day would follow her all through childhood, young womanhood, and as a married woman with children and as she battled her own demons of schizophrenia. I shall take up Mable’s story in the next segment.

Thank you Sisters and be Blessed!

.

.

Lamentations of the Righteous

15 Aug

Lamentations of the Righteous

Revelation: I don’t have to be Super Christian! Studying I Kings 19:1-18. I realize it’s okay when we are fearful, tired and just plain overwhelmed. God did not get angry with Elijah when he was going through a rough time. God sent an Angel to feed him and allowed him to get some rest.  Elijah was at the end of his rope and I’m sure he was thinking, “A little help here please.” God answered his needs. God did not berate him. The Lord understood that Elijah was frustrated and afraid.  God met him where was at. In verse 8 “the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” God knew Elijah needed several hours of good peaceful sleep and healthy food to tackle what was ahead. He did not send him out on his journey a nervous wreck but gave him time to rest and regroup.

Elijah felt discouragement, Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet” and the book of Lamentations is attributed to him. Elisha, Isaiah and Daniel all had their detractors. Hosea wed the harlot Gomer who continued to cuckold him throughout their marriage. How his heart must have broken at Gomer’s infidelities. Many are the nights he must have cried not only for himself but also for the young innocent children who suffered due to Gomer’s indiscretions.

Lamentations 1

New International Version (NIV)

How deserted lies the city,
    once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
    who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
    has now become a slave.

Bitterly she weeps at night,
    tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
    there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
    they have become her enemies.

Even though I know this verse of scripture is discussing Israel’s abandonment of God’s laws many times I have felt this pain personally. I don’t for a moment compare myself to the Major or Minor Prophets found in the Bible but their feelings of betrayal and anguish concerning people they love who continuously hurt themselves resonates with me. Yes I experience the personal pain of words thrown at me in anger much like daggers to my heart but the worst feeling is when loved ones turn away from reason and begin a campaign of self-destruction sometimes taking along innocent people with themselves. All Biblical prophets expressed grief at the stubbornness and unwillingness of their people to change.

Garden of Gethsemane

Garden of Gethsemane

Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. Being afraid is not a sin. We are human beings not robots. Even Jesus had to get away to a desert place. Anyone who works in any type of customer service job knows that you can become overwhelmed by the multitudes of people asking questions or with their hands out wanting, pulling at you, pushing you, all trying to get your attention, not even giving you time to catch your breath. Jesus knew what it was like to be on your feet all day long with little time to sit down for a break. It is recorded that Jesus went to a desert place or sometimes up to a mountain so he could sit, think, regain his energy to face the crowds once again.

It’s okay. It really is. With the help of God I can hurdle this storm.

Bebe and Cece Winans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOkijBvJ5Yw&feature=colike

Jesus was also known as “The Man of Sorrows and the Stone that the Builders rejected.”

What is the shortest verse in the Bible? “Jesus Wept.” Jesus wept not only in the Garden of Gethsemane the sorrow and upcoming pain of the crucifixion but for his people. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not! Luke 13:34

Oh the grief and distress in Jesus heart as he cries for his people. The sadness in his heart as they continued to cling to falsehoods when the truth was before them. How many times do we feel the same sting we castoff by those who are supposed to love us?

Why does God allow us to experience pain, sorrow, rejection and betrayal? Certainly not because he enjoys seeing us hurt or in tears but we suffer because we inhabit an imperfect world. However God is able to bring us through the fire and not let us get burnt. We may get a little singed but the fires of trials and tribulations will not consume us.

Today I’m thankful that I don’t have to be perfect. God still loves me warts & all. He sees my tears, sorrows and emotional pain, but it’s okay. Jesus knows what I’m going thru. God is not going to dump me just because I get nervous or have some other normal human emotion. Rather than keeping my emotions bottled up inside and getting sick I cry out to the Lord. With Jesus I can just be myself. Thank you Jesus for being my understanding friend. Today I experience God’s undying, never ending, unfailing love for me and my loved ones. God’s love has redeemed me from the hand of the enemy and made me Victorious over all my circumstances!

Donations and Freewill offerings can be made directly to my PayPal account deborah.palmer280@gmail.com

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