I knew I would become a writer ever since elementary school. I felt it was my purpose – the thing I needed to do. The poetry of Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Langston Hughes sparked my love for the written word. I loved this wonderful form of expression. Hughes’s poem, “Mother to Son,” was my favorite and while it was a sad prose about the disappointments of life, the mother encouraged her son to keep climbing and striving toward his goals. I voraciously read about Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s when African American singers, writers, artists and dancers all seemed to converge upon Harlem and do some of their best work. I also read stories of how some of these black greats went on to live in Paris because they experienced less racism and could better support themselves as artists. Some Americans, like author Richard Wright and singer/dancer Josephine Baker, became French citizens.
I remember thinking as a kid that I had really missed out. You see, I was born 50 years too late for this renaissance, and as a Philly girl, I knew little of Harlem or the culture it seemed to incubate. I had hoped to one day walk the streets of Paris and be inspired by those who came before. I wanted to travel through Europe and find a city to become my home, in the same manner that Josephine Baker adopted Paris as her home. I had a lot of dreams, but somehow, I did not know that my dreams were way bigger than some people thought possible. Thank goodness I had God, who taught me the importance of faith, hope and dreams.
Fast forward 20 years after elementary school. I was a journalist living and working in Europe and my editors sent me to France to write a story about African Americans in Paris. I was to retrace the steps of African Americans – from Baker, Wright, Chester Himes, James Baldwin and others. At the time of this trip, I did not really see it as an answer to a prayer. I saw it as a great reporting assignment. Today, when I look back on it, I see my trip to Paris as a blessing, an answered prayer and a great seed of hope. It taught me that my big dreams could be realized and that it was not too late to have a renaissance of my own.
That trip to Paris also taught me something else: I can now see that we all go through a renaissance – or rebirth several times in our lifetime. My first rebirth was when I gave my life to God in elementary school. The second time occurred on Easter Sunday on 1991: I was baptized while still a college student. The next renaissance came when I became a professional journalist, the next when ,I took up painting when I lived in northern Brazil and began finishing up a fiction book. I literally became a new person in Brazil because our lovely daughter was born there – and I could now help my daughter with her own life purpose and dreams.
The life of a human seems anchored on two sides – life and death, a beginning and end. God is the bridge. And during this wonderful life, we can experience many rebirths and we should not think that we missed out on something great, because something great is always around the corner if we trust and believe in God. I recently read an article in National Geographic Traveler Magazine about a new rebirth of black art, culture and writing taking place in Harlem. (The past has come full circle. Here is the link: http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/23/the-next-harlem-renaissance/). This story made me realize that we are born at the right time –and it is all part of God’s perfect timing. And he will help us to do our important work in this life no matter what is happening in the world.
I felt that I missed the Harlem Renaissance, but God gave me an inner renaissance that was much more important – it helped me know Him and rekindle my love for both art and writing. I was born in the right time for my birth and rebirth. You too were born in the perfect time. It is not too late to experience your dreams – even the dreams of a young child who wished to go to Paris to participate in a great enlightened movement. In the book of Corinthians, we learn that anyone born in Christ is a new creature because the old has passed away and a new one has come – a rebirth. In the book of Romans, we also learn that God gives us the newness of life!
God is not done with you! He is not done with me. He has wonderful plans for our lives! He has wonderful plans for your children and your loved ones! I say all of this to tell you that I think the crux of any renaissance is letting the bright love of God shine through you as you do your work, whether it is writing, painting or driving a school bus. The best of you, the light in you, is yet to come. Don’t give up. Don’t turn your back on rebirth, renewal or re-establishing your dreams.
Keep dreaming, and of course, keep running for your life!
Blessings to you all
Are some of you currently training for an upcoming half marathon or 10K? Be sure to dress warmly and to not overdo it. Be sure to stretch before and after your workouts and have faith in yourself and your abilities. Get good sneakers and throw them out after when they are not longer of good and proper use (about three to four months). Use your running time as a way to connect with God, to pray to him, to talk with him to share your heart’s desires and fears. He is running with you and wants to hear what you have to say. Do not, forget to listen. He likes for us to listen to what he has to say.
A Prayer for the Runner:
Dear heavenly Father be with me today as I run
Run beside me, run with me as I seek your face
May the sun caress my face the way your word has touched my heart.
Help my legs to carry me closer to you and the finish line
Help me to complete your important work in this life
Help me realize that if I fall down, you are there to help me up
May I know that if injured, recovery is possible
May I know even more that all is possible if I believe in you and that you are always making miracles in my life. Your love for me is without end and that gives me joy
Thank you father for running with me, for running towards me and helping me to seek you as I seek to strengthen and renew my body and relationship with you
Thank you heavenly father for showing me the path and taking it with me
I praise you forever!