December 9, 2016

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Part 1: Dreams of Diaspora, an Introduction

December 9, 2016

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Part 3: Southern Family & Spirituality



Children Listen

          I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas to a raised Baptist mother and a raised Episcopalian father (who had apparently converted to Mormonism for a few years in his late twenties before I was born). From three years old, I was in Sunday school each week and Bible memorization club each Wednesday at the Bible Church of Little Rock, a non-denominational church.  by Kindergarten was in private school run by the church. I remember singing Christmas songs with classmates and the beautiful stained glass window and how the light shown through them during morning chapel.

         I remember having my first profound spiritual experience around seven years old. The part that I will never forget is that it didn't have anything to do with the doctrines or narrative I was being told at church or school. I remember waking up from a dream and finding myself high above the universe, experiencing the vastness of Time and what I can now define as Source. I remember remarking to myself "Is this heaven? This isn't what heaven is supposed to look like." I believe that I was experiencing a kind of early awakening experience and astral projecting. I would continue to show signs of being an intuitive, Starseed throughout my childhood and young adulthood. Of course, those signs would be erased or re-labeled as ADD or ditsy or imaginative. In my a fundamentalist upbringing, spirituality is confined to the Bible passages, Biblical scholars, charismatic denominations who dabble unadvised, and any place elsewhere is simply a straight up tool of the Devil. 

         Personal is dangerous. In an interview with a music pastor named Brian Wren from Wren states exactly what I experienced growing up the opinions of personal experience and spirituality.

I'm not against the appeal to personal experience, but I think we're in danger of going too far in that direction. Many people hunger for some sense of personal contact with the divine, a contact that involves the heart as well as the head. That is entirely valid, although it's unwise to be too confident that what you feel is the divine...The negative side of this search is that it can become a preoccupation with "my own journey, my own feelings," as if they were unique simply a private view of life, a private view of the world. (Wren 2000)

         This dissonance between my self-worth and self-efficacy as defined by  the dogmas of my religion proved a crippling threat to maneuvering my young adult life.

          My Mother

         As a Christian, depressed women with auto immune disorders, in her late twenties, in the conservative south – with very limited context for going to therapy outside a church counseling context – my mother had very little regulatory skills for herself. Postpartum, the medications she was on for her health, sleep, and depression, all left behind a depleted individual that road the waves of fluctuating emotional highs and lows. In her worst times, she had slapped or pinched me, jerked my arm, released small bouts of rage or tears. She slapped me only a few times, but their sting will always rest in my memory. The first time of memory, I was seven or eight and I was pouring milk from a large jug and I missed the cup. It went everywhere. She slapped my face, yelled, then almost immediately burst into tears and wept at my feet in apology. Other times she would pinch me with blatant intensity behind her eyes – scolding me for this or that. Sometimes she'd call me in to her room to talk to me hours later, apologizing and eyes glistening.

         As an adult, I've tried not to vilify my mother, while at the same time acknowledging that I was the child in the scenario - the innocent. That I deserved the treatment rested itself somewhere deep inside me for years, right on the same shelf as my innate sin. So not only was I to blame, but I was sinful so had most likely sinned in some way to deserve her punishments.