I grew up in the African-American Episcopal (AME) Church back in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. It was the only place of worship I knew as a child. It was my place of solace from the hustle and bustle of blended family life of three sisters in one room and five brothers in the other. The constant barrage of emotions (as a result of strict discipline), daily morning routines and sibling rivalry were already enough for me to bear and I needed a processing moment. The church was my way out as a young black child; it was a healing place for my emotional well-being.
Church has always been a sanctuary for me, even to this day. My experience at the ‘little church on the hill’ was actually an awakening — from singing in the young-adult choir to experiencing the outward praise of the late and great Mr. Joe Johnson, who would always spontaneously and brashly step forward from his front row seat and begin to praise the Lord in song and trumpet.
Fast forward to 2012…
He had two funerals in one week, each with a 500-mile radius between the two. One funeral was on a Thursday, the other was the upcoming Saturday. I didn’t cry during the first service (held in Charlotte) and I froze into shock at the second (in Mobile, Alabama). I couldn’t bear it any longer — I had to finally let loose.
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