Wednesday, October 11, 2023

"A Rock in a Weary Land: For Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church"


Upon pain of losing fingers  hands  tongues eyes  or breath itself
                                                                                                           they still stole
the words  the pages  the scraps  the books  and hummed the story into
a stair of light upon which to climb
                                                                 not only up a mountain but into the clouds –
If those words can make you free   they said
                                                                             them words will sprout wings
upon our backs   and spark lightning in our fingers
                                                                                     Every chosen one
had to climb   walk  or crawl up the rock
                                                                    Yes  a mountain                                                                                                                                                                               sometimes
                    a hill  
                              maybe  even just a mound  beneath which the most sacred bones
were cherished
                              A Rock
 Moses went when summoned and returned  shouting   “Go,  Be Free”
                                                                                                                   A Rock
Elijah survived earthquake  fire and storm  to gain the stillness of complete love
at the pinnacle where all is revealed
                                                              A Rock
                                                                                 no,   a stone upon which
the wisest  bravest  oldest of the sojourners  would finally rest
at the crossroads  where hope met dread   where blindness was stunned
into sight
                    Ebenezer  the Rock was called
where help was offered and claimed   where the chosen and blessed were anointed
for the people   always the people
                                                                Samuel waited to see who would stand ready
to deliver God’s children and sing the songs that gladden our hearts even now
They knew that every child who climbed that rock  returned with words that gave
wings to dreams
                                 The child who stood on the mountain  who was dragged up the hill
spoke the word that we still stretch out our souls to hear and to hold
                                                                                                                   the Word
that causes us to tremble   tells us  yes this day   that if you climb the rock
it is to see a way to the Promise Land   go  and return
                                                                                            and guide us on

(There are very, very few institutions in the Black community that can be honored for celebrating 152 years of existence. The fact that three formerly enslaved African American families gathered to pray together, without ceasing, is the most profound reason for confirming with word and deed this milestone celebration. October 6, 2023.)