George Floyd: As if marching could make a difference

On May 25, 2020, people began to protest vehemently in the light of the murder of George Floyd, 46, by former police officer Derrick Chauvin; while onlookers begged him to stop and fellow police officers stood by, as if giving silent assent.

It certainly wasn’t the first time police in this country have been accused of “allegedly” murdering young Black men and women while detaining them for things as innocuous as selling loose cigarettes, in the case of Earl Garner; or a traffic stop, in the case of Sandra Bland.

Or what in the case of Brianna Taylor, 20, as she slept in her house in Louisville, KY

It wasn’t the first time. 

But this time, feet started to march in Minneapolis, the city of Floyd’s murder. And with the same energy of a domino effect, feet started marching in neighboring cities and in neighboring states. 

In spite of the fact that law enforcers tried to discourage the protests; feet began to march with determination. They marched in most of the 50 states of this country. In inner cities and in counties. In rural areas and in town centers.

As if marching could make a difference.

Signs went up in the hands of the marchers. Signs went up in front yards of homeowners. Signs went up even on cars and vehicles.

Feet marched with determined cadence. All over the world. They marched in solidarity with Black people who’ve been crying for justice in the face of police brutality. Forever. Black people who’ve watched their young and old people slaughtered by those sworn to protect and serve. Forever. Children and grandchildren. Aunts and uncles. Screaming for justice, screams that fell on seemingly deaf ears.

Feet began to march once they saw the video of the vicious murder Derrick Chauvin perpetrated on George Floyd without regret, and with a seemingly defiant look that refused to recognize the humanity of the man he was killing over the span of 9 minutes and 29 seconds…the humanity of a man who repeatedly declared his inability to breathe…the humanity of a man who ultimately resolved that only his mother would hear him and relieve him of the pain and terror of dying he was experiencing in those moments.

The humanity of a man that 17-year-old, Darnella Frazier, had the courage to video with her iPhone, a video that could not save his life, but ultimately motivated the feet to march.

As if marching could make a difference.

New feet were needed because the feet of historic marchers were exhausted. New feet. Newly motivated feet. Newly convinced feet. Feet that finally believed what their eyes had seen without equivocation.

New feet that could take a shift or two and relieve the feet that have been marching since 1920 when the NAACP posted the banner in New York City to proclaim, “A Black man was lynched today.” 

Been marching past picnics that killed them and polling places that denied them.

Been marching past schools that denied them and 

Been marching past hotels that wouldn’t accommodate them; 

past hospitals that wouldn’t treat them

Past churches that wouldn’t worship with them

Past businesses that wouldn’t employ them

Past communities that wouldn’t welcome them

Even past water fountains that refused to quench their thirst

As if marching could make a difference.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And these new feet couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy of it all.

So these feet marched throughout the rest of May and throughout June and the entirety of July. And August and September. October. November. December. Marched right into the new year and every day leading up to the of Derrick Chauvin’s trial. And stood outside the trial every day, demanding justice or else.

New feet that were willing to march, having unwittingly joined the society of mothers who wail at the murder of children who didn’t journey to earth through their wombs. The society of mothers whose hearts continue to be broken each time a child is tied to their souls through the shedding of his blood and leaching of his life.

A Black man was lynched today. A year ago. Yesterday. And tomorrow.

Published originally by the AFRO American Newspaper on Afro.com.

‘But if I ask’

 

I went to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.; those were some of the best years of my life. I loved everything about being there and I knew it was just the right place for me. I was working three part time jobs so I could go full time and complete my degree in three years; so sometimes dollars were seriously thin.

During the more difficult days, I was summoned to the dean of students’ office for consultation. My tuition was behind. I had been attending classes although I really wasn’t allowed during this time; but I didn’t want to fall behind in my work. The dean asked a few questions about my situation and suggested that perhaps this wasn’t the right time for me to be in school. It was that question that sparked the passionate reply that grabbed the dean’s attention. If there was anything I was sure of that day, it was that I was in exactly the right place at the right time. It was exactly what God had ordained for me for that season of my life. And I knew it because of the breath of new life I had enjoyed since I’d enrolled and begun classes.

One of the things I loved about Wesley was the instructors. Some of them were quite intellectual and full of information. They weren’t the touchy feely kind who made you want to spend time with them over meals. Some of them were so well traveled and well read that they were a touch foreboding – great teachers nevertheless.

What I loved about them, young and old, was that eventually you would meet Jesus in each of them. What that means for a Black Baptist is that at some point their tenderness for their Savior became evident in the middle of a lesson, without warning and with infectious joy. And that was always a glorious moment.

The dean said to me, once we found common ground, “I’ll go with you to talk to [the financial director],” and I put on my big girl pants and said I could do it on my own. The goal was to arrange payments I could actually make. She stood a little taller as she said to me, “But if I go and speak to him, it’ll make a difference.” That has stayed with me for almost 30 years.

If I go…If I ask…it will make a difference. And that kind of confidence should rest in each of our hearts. That it will make a difference if I ask because of my relationship with the Lord. You know how little kids do it. “You want me to ask my Daddy to get you the ice cream? He’ll do it!”

“My Daddy will do it. My Daddy will take you. My Daddy will protect you.”

Isn’t that the spirit of a child? Isn’t that why we’re told to come to the kingdom of God as little children?

Anyway, we went to the office of the financial director and the dean merely stood in the doorway. She said, “I’m bringing Rev. Dorothy Boulware to you. Perhaps you two can work something out that will bring her into good standing with the school.”

And she turned and walked away.

He asked if I could possibly pay $20 a month until the arrears was caught up.

Are you kidding me? $20? All day long I can pay it! And all was well. And all remained well through graduation a year later.

Because she asked.

Because you ask…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mother of a son

I’m the mother of a son. He’s a peculiar young man. He grew up in the same household as my daughters and yet he’s quite different. Not a birthed baby, but a bonus since he was seven months old. He made our family complete. He was so uniquely male. He kept cats under the back porch. He tried physical exploits that almost got my husband arrested at the ER. He surfed off stone igloos on the neighborhood playground. He was always in trouble, but never lied when confronted. He made us crazy with his stunts in school. We were like extra students when he was in middle school. Every day either my husband or myself had to go to school to keep him in, or to spend the day so he could stay.

I’m the mother of a son. He chooses to live on the streets of Baltimore. And we don’t know why. He’s not a criminal. Even in this, he’s a leader. Has been since his Boy Scout days. Even on the streets he takes care of others and shares his goods. He’s a peculiar man. He’s got a smart mouth sometimes. He always takes up for himself. But when he was stabbed many times, probably because he mouthed off at the wrong person; homeless workers, God bless them, were devastated because he’s known to be a nice man who always looks out for others.

I’m the mother of a son. And every day my heart aches. He doesn’t drive so it won’t be in a traffic stop. But he’s got a smart mouth. And the very thought of an encounter with the wrong law officer at the wrong time makes me cry. As do the daily encounters-gone-wrong of other mothers’ sons. These young men are all our sons. And we can’t explain why our wombs weep for sons we didn’t birth. But they do. Every. Time.

I’m a mother of a son. And I wonder what policemen see when they look at my son. I wonder how selling loose cigarettes somehow alters the perception of my son. I wonder how passing a questionable dollar bill alters the perception of my son. I wonder how the sight of a toy gun renders my son dead within 12 seconds. I wonder why my son’s being too frightened to respond to orders in an encounter that promises his death is such an anomaly. My son the teacher. My son the soldier. My son the social worker. My son the guy on the corner. My son the guy getting married in the morning. My son with the Skittles and the Arizona iced tea. My son the homeless man. The uncle. The husband. The brother. I wonder why the sight of my son provokes such hate that he’s found hanged with a noose. Lynched. Multiple times. In multiple places. On multiple nights. Over and over.

I’m the mother of a son.

When you ask me to pray

When you ask me to pray for you I may do a number of things.

I might ask what you’d like me to pray for. That’s for your benefit. I rarely do that unless it’s catastrophic, and if I can see you’re at your breaking point I’ll pray right then with your hands in mine, with my arms embracing you or maybe on my knees at your feet.

It depends on how the Spirit instructs me.

When you ask me to pray I usually ask the Lord to bring your name to my remembrance for the future, especially if it is our first meeting. 

Then I ask Him to add your name to my tribe.

Yes I have a prayer tribe. Remember the stones on Aaron’s breastplate? Four rows of three each to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Exodus 28. And when they went into the temple once a year to pray, to minister, they wore that same apparel and presented the representative stones so that each tribal head and member was brought before God.

You become a member of my tribe and your name is then included whenever I’m in the presence of the Lord. That’s what I really want. So that every time I’m in prayer mode, so are you. Every time I think of heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit, you’re right there in the middle. Every time I burst into praise you’re in the midst when the Lord comes down to inhabit my praise. Every time my spirit rises in worship you rise with me and benefit from the cloud of God’s overwhelming presence.

When you ask me to pray for you.

I’m delighted to add you to my tribe. I’m delighted to know that every time God makes me smile in remembrance that I’m his beloved child, you have the same smile, or at least the blessing of it, even if you’re unaware.

Every time I break out into Holy Ghost laughter, you get the jogging points.

Every time I break out into dance, you reap the harvest of my body’s offering to the Father I love so much.

Do you know what the enemy hates?

He hates the joy of the Lord. It gives us strength. Nehemiah 8:10

He hates Holy Ghost laughter. Merriment. A merry heart does good like medicine. Proverbs 17:22

He hates music. He has ever since he got kicked out of heaven.

He hates praise. Because the Lord inhabits our praise. Psalm 22:3

He hates worship. He hates when his compadres are scattered.

You know when we go up into the heavenlies with our praise, the spirits in the air have to move higher to get away from the power of God on us and in us.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

When we go up, they have to go up higher and scatter themselves away from the confusion and distraction God’s power and presence visits on them. They get discombobulated and are unable to accomplish the destruction and mayhem to which they were assigned in our lives. Assignment cancelled. Surgery cancelled. Tumor cannot be located. Mortgage purchased. Job offered. Marriage reconciled. Mind restored. Peace restored. Time redeemed. Relationships rebuilt. 

So when you ask me to pray for you, I take it seriously. One because I would not sin against God by neglecting to pray for you. And secondly, it gives me great joy to have a part in heaven’s victory in your life.

So when you ask me to pray for you, I get to myself, most of the time. Not always. I may just turn to the inner altar.

I keep my foot when I go before the Lord. I’m not hasty to speak and throw petitions toward the Lord. No. I quiet myself. I comfort myself. I go to a special place if I’m home. If not, I find comfort wherever I find myself.

And I search for the Spirit to see where he is and what I’m to do in that particular prayer time. Talk? Listen? Read the word? Grab the hymnal? Sing a song? Do a dance? Go for a walk?

Whatever it is, I’m going to obey. It is my joy to obey. It is my joy to be in the presence of the Lord. It is my joy to enlarge my tribal territory. It is my joy to know God is more present in every aspect of your life.

God bless you!!!

Photo by Ric Rodrigues from Pexels

An extraordinary moment of Grace

It was a Tuesday, April 21, 1987. I’d been to early prayer at church and shuttled all the kids to school. Since I had a short breather before a doctor’s appointment – just a regular checkup – a nap seemed most appropriate.

It was that good kind of sleep that only happens when it’s unplanned, unfettered by a nagging agenda and undisturbed because there is no one in the house. Good sleep. But I had to be up by 11.

Suddenly as I drifted on whatever cloud was passing by, a bang happened on the front door. The kind of bang that’s sounded by those huge heavy posts police carry to smash in doors. It startled me, woke me up. But I was not disturbed. Actually I was glad to have been awakened. It was the perfect time to to get up and make my appointment.

Everything went fine at the appointment and I returned home to begin afternoon chores before the Mommy taxi went into full speed.

When I went into the house nothing caught my attention.

But as I entered the kitchen my eyes fell on the back door. It was open. Not ajar. But fully open. Not only that. The top of the door was actually missing. I know it was an old house and that everything was a little tender. But really. The top of the door was gone.

It could have been a scene from one of those old Japanese movies where Chovan opens his huge mouth and bites off the top of a door. Or grabs it with his huge hand and rips off the top. Unbelievable.

So I went upstairs to check. I know I shouldn’t have but in that moment fear didn’t register. So I went upstairs only to find that whoever had come in had helped him or herself to everything that posed as electronics- televisions, VCRs, radios, etc. One of the VCRs had been borrowed from my sister-in-law.

Police reports finished and aside, I realized that the Lord had gotten me out of that house. The loud knock on the front had been the intruder’s way of checking to see if anyone was home. It gave me a way of escape that probably saved my life. One can only imagine the outcome if drug influenced robbers had come into the house to find me asleep upstairs. And thankfully, I’ll never know.

What I do know is that it was yet another extraordinary moment of grace that always elicits boundless gratitude for my Maker.

The sound of grace

I love The Message, the way the late Dr. Eugene Peterson captured the breadth of the words in scripture. One of my favorite passages is out of Matthew 11:28-29

But before Peterson even embraced his artful description, John Newton alluded to grace having its own unique sound.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. 

I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

He goes on to talk about the teaching property of grace.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fear relieved

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

But I’m still caught up on the sound of grace. Grace is God’s favor operating in our lives; undeservedly so and totally because God’s heart is so enormous that he spreads his wings to cover us. Just because. Just because he chooses. Just because he chooses us.

So I let my old school, spiritual eye wander through the scripture and began to imagine what was heard by the first woman Jesus spoke to when he began his ministry. He was the only man speaking to women in public…women who weren’t his wife or mother or sister. When he invited her to join the multitude of followers, when he invited her to come closer and be seated nearer the inner circle because he saw in her a heart that yearned for love and acceptance. A heart that had been so broken, that therefore housed so many holes and compartments, that love could easily enter into myriad openings. A heart that would overflow its own personal acceptance to everyone she met. What did she hear when he spoke? Maybe even called her by name? Did her heart betray the feelings that welled up from her deepest part? Did she weep from the deep well of pain formerly housed in her womb? Did those tears of despair now convert themselves into joyful streams that danced down her face with glee? Joy that the Savior of all mankind as she’d been introduced to him, turned his countenance toward her with assured acceptance, the kind that goes on forever. The kind that burns indelibly in the belly bringing simultaneous consecration and deliverance. The kind that rescues as a “brand from the burning” and marks as a “babe beloved.”

A reasonable portion

A traditional Black church testimony might go something like this:

First giving honor to God, to Jesus Christ who is the Lord of my life and to the saints of God with whom I fellowship. I want to thank God for my early rising this morning, that my last night bed wasn’t my cooling board, nor my sheet my winding chain. (Ask your grandmother what these things are.)

I want to thank him that I woke up with a reasonable portion of my health and strength and with soundness in my mind.

Okay. That just about covers it. The wording might be different in different healing stations, but this generally hits it.

What would you consider to be a reasonable portion? Seriously?

I was sitting in the living room and decided I needed something from the bedroom. Not after  walking the few feet down the hall. Not when I entered the bedroom. Not when I was distracted by a conversation. I wasn’t. But when I stood up, just a few seconds after having formed the idea of the need. At the moment I stood up, I forgot why I had planned the trip to the bedroom.

I’m 70. Do I have a reasonable portion of my mental health?

I’m just saying.

I have an easily controlled case of high blood pressure. I’ve been declared free of type 2 diabetes – Thank you Jesus! By mainline standard I’m morbidly obese, although my grand daughters think I’m tiny.

Do I have a reasonable portion of my physical health?

I can stand long enough to cook meals. I can tear up a mall, especially if I have some shopping money. I can walk as long as I need to. I can dance until the song is over.

Do I have a reasonable portion of my physical strength?

I’m just saying.

All things are relative. And in this pandemic era, when we’ve lost so many; and so many are impaired for a lifetime…we should be grateful for all that we have. Because we don’t have to have it. It’s a gift from God.

These are the things that come across my mind in the quiet moments.

Happy Monday!

They’re grateful for fresh water to drink. Courtesy The Waymakers Ministry.

I knew she would live!

I’d been to church for an evening service. I was the minister of music. And when I returned home, there was an ambulance at my house. And the neighbors had gathered. And the next door neighbor was trying to tell me something about how she’d been instrumental in making this happen. But the “wa wa wa wa” had already set in. I couldn’t hear her either. My husband and I followed the ambulance to the hospital and rushed to her room. We couldn’t be with her because they were doing emergency work and triaging her situation. And working up the nerve to tell me that my #1 daughter would likely not see morning. 10 percent. Zero percent.

And I couldn’t hear any of it. We went home to help take care of our new grand.

And we gathered for prayer.

The tone changes in this place as my #2 daughter reports on something I don’t even remember.

“The cacophonous prayer will always be unforgettable as it shook me out of my own bona fide egocentricity. Up to this point there were a few truths that governed my reality. My mother was a praying woman who shared a loving and peaceful prayer life with God. My sister was sick and in the hospital, but everything was going to be alright. I grew weary of the constant visiting and figured I would await her return home. There was no ill intent in my fatigue in visiting, I was just living a 15-year old’s existence of self-indulgence. The shrill and resonant sound shifted me from engaging in the family prayer that I thought to be rote, to understanding that there was clearly something wrong. There was no communication to us kids about my sister’s present status and circling up for family prayer was normal in my home. Until this phrase… “Pleeeeeassssse don’t take my baby,” repeatedly in a manner that was clear that all bets were off; and this was no normal prayer. This was a war cry. This was a negotiation that portrayed leverage to suggest the request and the only acceptable outcome. After this war cry prayer, the result would undoubtedly end one way. I broke ranks with the prayer awaiting an explanation that was certainly omitted and yet I feared it was already clear. I’d soon discover that what the doctor told my mother was commensurate with her words, tone and intensity in prayer; “She will not make it through the night!” This is the kind of OJT I was raised on, when life gives you a message that does not align with the core of your soul, there has to ensue such a conversation between you and the father that reflects your personal relationship with him and all that you believe him capable of providing. I learned the battle of outcomes are often wrought in the arena of a family circled in prayer and a mother that believed her faith could pull the victory.”

You see when a mother “almost” loses a child, the hole preemptively created in her heart is not to be dispelled just because the child lives. The hole is forever there because she’s gone through every excruciating minute until the moment the child comes back. There’s no forgetting the agony endured, every second of the wait. There’s no forgetting the mind’s process of reworking one’s world without one’s child. There’s no forgetting the inept things people say and do in an attempt to be helpful. There’s no forgetting. Even now, my heart sinks as I remember. I remember the gray pallor of her skin. I remember how her eyes searched mine for patches of hope she could snatch for herself. I remember my heart struggling to be present in worship, even as a worship leader, as I questioned God as to his game plan and how it would work out for my child. I remember the call from the hospital that things had gotten so bad that they’d given her a blood transfusion. Without my permission? It was 1988. We thought transfusions were still questionable. She wasn’t an adult. I was her adult. We left church immediately to get to her side. And when my eyes fell on her, they began to dance. My heart was lightened. The gray was gone. And I knew in that second that she would live.

On Amazon and on DorothyScottBoulware.com.

I want for you…

I want for you to see greatness in your mirror as you never have before. And know that greatness resides in the deepest part of you, and not by accident. It was a plan that was planned long before you had any inkling of you.

I want for you to perceive the love God has for you, not because someone tells you. Not even because you read it. I want for you to be so enveloped in your relationship that love is a given and you can walk assuredly in it.

I want for you to take a stand and stand against the forces, seen and unseen, that purpose themselves for your destruction. To look injustice, inequity, disparity and disdain in the face of its presentation and demand it cease and desist its assignment against you and your brethren.

I want for you to embrace your unique gifting – that thing you do that no one does quite like you – that thing soaked in the oil of heaven, that does nothing but bless all who witness and receive it. Embrace the fact that you are as unique as a fingerprint and you, being fully you, make the world a better place.

I want for you, in 2021, to rebound from all that beset you last year. Congratulate yourself for having made it. Whether you were sick and recovered, or are recovering; whether your loss was more than you could have imagined or if you are just worn out with all that has gone on around you. Give yourself a hearty hug. Couldn’t have done it without you. None of us could.

Say hello to 2021 with a thankful smile and a soul determined to walk the worthy walk of liberty to which you are called. Be new. Be renewed. I love you. God bless you and all that you love. Have an unimaginable, fully prosperous, God ordained New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!

How I won in 2020

I’ve walked with the Lord for more years than you might think, because faith came to me at a young age. And at the tender age of 70, I’ve had blessings that brought joy, bubbles that brought grace and miracles that brought overwhelming peace. And I’ve had surprises, upheavals, tragedies and tsunamis.

But I’ve never encountered anything, in any 12-month package that resembled what we experienced in 2020. And I have to tell you I’m “cussing” mad at the system and governmental leadership, the politicians that rest on their wealth and their connections, while they left us out to dry – fully exposed to disease that could have been avoided – without the medical intervention and financial assistance that could have made a heck of a difference. I told you I was cussing mad.

So in addition to the friends who leave you for glory – too many to count – in a regular year, my heart’s been broken multiple times by the severe illness and death of people near and dear, and some I’ve never met.

And, in addition to the faith I embrace, I’ve been overtaken with the insistent sadness that intrudes my peaceful moments with the rude awakening that this is a time unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

And when that happens, I’m reminded by my ALL that is holy, to be still, be more aware of his presence; and breathe. And as I do, I am filled with that which is so much more than I could ever be without him. And I’m reminded to be grateful. Grateful for the family members and friends who are thriving and surviving. Grateful for the ones who have been touched, but not ended by the virus. To be grateful for the frontline workers. Bank tellers. Grocery check out persons. Fast food servers. DoorDash drivers. Post office clerks. Grateful for the perfectly well children who stay away because they have frontline jobs and wouldn’t dare unknowingly infect their parents. Although they hate staying away. Although we hate their staying away.

Grateful for the people, the fraternities and sororities, community groups and families, churches, synagogues, mosques and singular saints who’ve consistently distributed food so our neighbors can eat. Grateful for these same people who’ve distributed the best of everything on the wishlists, so our neighboring children can have an extraordinary Christmas.

Grateful to God for reminding me to breathe and appreciate every breath. Grateful to God who prepares me and propels me into 2021 with a renewed determination to live large in him and walk worthy of his calling on my life.

Peace.

Stay safe

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