May 9, 2015
As my grown children and grandchildren swirl around me, taking pictures, introducing themselves to my friends, the African American praise song, “How I Got Over,” runs through my head. “You know my soul look back and wonder, how I got over.”
I am graduating today with my Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. I am happy, and so glad to have most of my family with me, but still my mind skips back through the past. Over a sad, anxious childhood; over struggles as a single parent; over violent, abusive relationships; over years of financial strain. At the same time, in a flash I remember the warmth of teachers who cared, sisters and friends, moments in the sun with my children and beloved grands. I feel rather than remember the weight of years and years of reading and studying, usually while working full-time to support my family. How many times I looked out the kitchen window and longed to be “out there” instead of trapped “in here” writing papers.
But all that is finally over. For the next little bit I don’t even want to take a crochet class. I told my daughter-in-law that I planned to spend the summer “letting my soul catch up with my body” a phrase from a sermon delivered years ago. Upon hearing this, five year old Alexis sat bolt upright in the office chair in which she was spinning, looked me straight in the eye and pronounced, “It’s going to take you a year. First, your soul has to catch up with your body, which is going to take awhile. Then your soul needs to heal because it has scratches and nicks on it.” As she said this, she ran her own little hands up and down her forearms. “After that, your soul can settle down. After it settles down, you can begin to rest. It’s going to take you a year. And then you will be ready.” With that, my little prophet hopped down from the chair and went on a Barbie doll hunt.
Do I believe this is a message from God? Yes, because I already really knew it before she said it. It is time for some self-care. Before embarking on the second half of my life, I have accomplishments to take in and celebrate, but also near-death experiences to process, and losses to grieve.
“You know my soul look back and wonder, how I got over.”