Every time I walk into Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, there is a sense of coming home. While I was never a “member” of this church, in that tiny little church is where my parents began their lives together as husband and wife. It’s the first place my daddy kissed my mama after professing their love for one another before their family and friends. My grandfather served on the ministerial staff at this church and it was here that we celebrated his home going privately before the larger service at Bethlehem. My family is rooted in this place. So much so that when we go home and my daddy joins the other deacons for devotion, and one of my uncles takes to his knee to pray, and Uncle Cecil leads the small congregation in the call and response there is an energy that engulfs the church house and we find ourselves united in love. There’s no room for pettiness and jealousy, misunderstandings and quick tempers because in those sweet moments we celebrate life and the love that binds us in hope, service and our source which we call the Sweet Holy Spirit.
In the midst of the gathering, seated on the second row are the Mother’s of the Church. For all of my life, my grandmother has been one of those mothers. When I was born she was my first lady and I had the privilege of watching her and the other mothers model the behavior that was expected of me and the other young girls of the congregation. I didn’t always agree with everything she tried to teach me, but my God am I glad that she cared enough to take the time to teach me! If I had to liken the women in my family to a plant, it wouldn’t be a rose. We are like cacti. We produce beautiful flowers while wearing a tough and prickly skin. But beneath that skin is a nourishing water that we store up and share with those in great times of need. We stand in the desert places like soldiers and we fight to protect the lives of those who cross our paths. We are a sturdy bunch and none moreso than my grandmother.
This week, as we celebrated my mother’s 62 birthday we also received word that my grandmother’s condition is progressing and the reality that the role of matriarch is about to pass from my grandmother to my mother is sharpening and coming into focus like never before. I know my grandmother is ready to journey home. I know that my mother is ready to begin this new stage of her life. I feel so blessed that I have the chance to witness this special time. This is how it is supposed to be. We honor our loved ones while they are with us. We celebrate their lives as they transition. We remember them to our children to pass on their wisdom and their love to the generations that follow. I watch and realize that one day this will be me. Age is not an enemy. Aging is a process by which we tell the great stories of our living as we pass our stories on into immortality.
~ Marta G.