“I don’t know how to start writing about this, Oba, Iyoba. I have been silent for so long, do I even know how to make words flow again. Would that I had your determination to follow through, Oba. Would that I had your resolve to make things happen, Iyoba. I guess I have to start somewhere, so I guess I’ll just start.”
The Nigerian wood statues stand solidly on my tall dresser as I bent to honor them. Despite being with my family for literal decades, it was only last year that I discovered who the two busts portrayed. I thought their arrival to my sole possession to be a mistake. They were quick to refute that assumption and declare themselves the representatives of one of my bloodlines’ mythic past, a tactile reminder that I am a descendant of survivors.
I have greeted them as both my ancestors and the representatives of all of my ancestors every morning since then. I have addressed them first before moving on to other works and workings. And when old fears attempt to dress in new clothes, they are there to remind me that I am not where, when, or what I was before.
Since their establishment as tangible figures in my life, [Rummer John] and The Ocean have retreated from immediate involvement. They tell me that I don’t need them as I did before, as anchors to help me weather situational and environmental storms in my life. It feels like growing up, watching the uncles that stepped in to care for me step into the background so I can mature in my own way.
I have the sense that I will be returning to more direct involvement with them again, but when I do, it will not be as a lost child desperate for shelter. I’m almost afraid of who that person will be.
I say “almost afraid”, because I am already facing one of my worst fears. Sometimes I sit and just stare at the statue of Saint Cyprian of Antioch and the black rosary draped over it. After years of burying every memory of one type of Christianity that almost killed me, I’m now actively learning the prayers of another type of Christianity that I was warned away from and is now helping me recover.
I feel like the human embodiment of an asymptote. For all my approach to Roman Catholicism, I will never be Catholic. Even though my belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost is currently greater than when I held a dedicated and fanatical martyr’s faith, I will never be Christian in any meaningful and lived out definition of the word again.
And that’s okay.
It’s complicated to me. It’s simple to God.
I’m Loved. The End.
What is the difference between magic and spirituality? I have never written publicly about why I made a deal with a devil. It has not been spoken of in confidence, either. But funny enough, it was that deal that facilitated just facing the idea of Christianity and has eased my steps into walking what has been revealed to be a giant spiral now turning back in on itself.
I told myself at the time, that I was doing what I needed to do to keep my promise to [Patient Caller] and obtain the ring (and other goals). I told myself that I would get close enough to divinity to snatch the prize and then scramble away from the glowing hooks before I get caught up again.
Sometimes you have to hold hands with the Devil to see God.
Sometimes you have to stand in the light to understand the shadow.
Jason Miller’s Black School course helped me to stand where I needed to stand. Walking past that point is going to take faith.
Faith in God. Faith in the Devil. Faith in the promises. Faith in myself.
Faith that I am not where I was when I had abdicated control of myself to a body of people who were so dedicated to their faith that they encouraged me to self-destruct rather than live apart from their ideal.
Faith in the continuing visions and experiences that I now have context to understand and perspective to interpret.
Faith to accept I will never get all the answers, so why not enjoy the seeking of them.
Before my apostasy, before I made the decision not to die for another person’s faith, my view of spirituality was very simple. There was God, who is good. And there is the Devil, who is bad.
But now there is a Devil who encourages me to seek God, and a God who loves me even though I’m not “his”, and mythical ancestors who celebrate each time I don’t let depression kill me, and an embodiment of Death who gets a kick out of daring me to live.
And that’s okay.
That’s where I am.
In the center of the spiral.