This past weekend I visited South Carolina. It was a lengthy trip that took about 17 hours round trip, give or take.
Our stay only lasted about three days, including traveling. Yet it was a nice, refreshing way to spend the last weekend of 2012. I have never before reflected so much about religion and its affect on peoples’ lives. My family (on both sides) are Catholics and very familiar with the church and bible. As a child, I was christened, attended Sunday school, then confirmed as a member of the Roman Catholic Church. However, I seldom, if ever, go to church. I used to say that I don’t pray because in my mind praying was: on your knees, hands clasped and pointed to the heavens, talking to God in a particular way.
My view of religion changed after taking World Religions in college. Some aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism appealed to me – specifically meditation, yoga. The act of breathing is something we take for granted, yet if done properly, it centers us, reduces stress and helps clear our minds. I believe that is the key to becoming in tune with “God” – the guiding voice inside everyone.
The purpose for our trip was to attend a baby christening (and visit family) on Sunday, December 30 at their (my boyfriend’s family) home church in Marion, South Carolina, the Greater Singletary AME Church. There the Reverend William Smith, Jr. was a guest preacher.
His messages pertained to the New Year – letting go of the past for a happier/better future. It was uplifting and wisdom rained from his voice. I could not help but compare this experience with my many Catholic Church services. There was a boy sitting next to me, tallying the amount of times one woman said “God” in her praise speech. Everyone who took the stage was overjoyed to praise God and do right by him. The Roman churches I’ve been to, there is more composure in how they pray and praise. In comparison, in the AME Christian Church, there seemed to be more reflection and improvisation – which kept it interesting.
I have developed a respect for the values of AME, including their emphasis on education. To read about slavery, the civil rights movement and people involved in upholding the traditions of our ancestors is easy but this past weekend, I got a first hand glimpse of the values of Blacks down south and their struggle to restructure the image of “Black”.
Another thing that resonated with me was the importance of spirituals to slaves compared to religion in modern day Black people’s lives. I forgot who pointed it out, but when you think about it many (if not most) head Black figures in our society – Oprah and Barack Obama come to mind – all emphasis their belief in God and/or the power of scripture. I began to think – spirituality in one’s life is VERY important! No matter who your god is or how you decide to get in tune with your inner self, it is a part of the human experience that needs to be tapped into.
Most people make resolutions on New Year’s Day. Others begin their journey of change once they realize something needs to be changed. I have resolved to really work on meditating/getting into a consistent yoga routine. The members of the Greater Singletary AME Church and Rev. William Smith, Jr. reminded me that change is achievable and necessary to happiness.
Best last weekend of the year ever. 🙂
Happy New Year!