“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors. I AM because they live in me. I could not be who, what, or where I am today if I remained ignorant of this idea. They live in me, and I, in them. I am not just a particular woman born to my parents, but a history passed down through my birth. Part of embracing one’s whole self means acknowledging the ancestors from whose line you come. If you want to be fully, wholly human, embrace all of who you are–visible and invisible.
”Your ancestors took the lash, the branding iron, humiliations and oppression because one day they believed you would come along to flesh out the dream.” ― Maya Angelou
As a descendent of African slaves I did not have the rich treasure of memorabilia to hold on to, or to discover in order to see myself more clearly. If my people had not been side-swiped by slavery, I could have learned to appreciate all that I am sooner. But since they were, part of learning to love the all-of-me has been learning to see beauty where previously only shame and anonymity has been. As a young girl, there were no visible reflections that mirrored beauty that I could recognize. It was hard in those days to learn to love the self when you were rendered invisible by virtue of your skin. So, finding myself came many years later.
tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water
those who have died have never, never left
the Dead are not under the earth
they are in the rustling trees, they are in the groaning woods
they are in the crying grass, they are in the moaning rocks
the Dead are not under the earth
― from “Breaths” by Sweet Honey in the Rock
The ancestors, however, were always whispering to me, though I could not hear them. After all, they had the loud buzz of voices which blasted our so-called reality nonstop to override. Still, whether or not I knew they were there, they were. I would learn later that although they had released their bodies, they were not really dead. Once I learned to quiet the outer voices and begin listening to the inner ones, I began to realize that I was more than just an embodiment of flesh plopped down upon this earth.
I am the continuation of an ancient ancestral song that began eons and eons ago.
My life is a rich inheritance from these predecessors which I live and magnify in this moment. It transcends my immediate familial bloodline. It seals me to all life on this earth, and beyond it. I am my ancient and extraterrestrial beginnings made manifest for the zillionth time–this one–as me. I am humbled by the vastness of this idea.
… I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise. ― Maya Angelou
I want to rise in glory. I want to realize all that my ancestors bequeathed to me. I want to reflect the ancestral light that still shines beyond here and throughout multiverses.
“Perhaps we are born knowing the tales of our grandmothers and all their ancestral kin continually run in our blood repeating them endlessly, and the shock they give us when we first bear them is not of surprise but of recognition.” ― P.L. Travers
They live again in me and through me. I rise in recognition as I truly understand what my life is, who I am, and how very much I have been given.
“When we illuminate the road back to our ancestors, they have a way of reaching out, of manifesting themselves…sometimes even physically.” ― Raquel Cepeda
Arise, oh ancestors from beyond the sun, moon, and stars, from beyond the galaxies, out of the cosmos! Wend your way through me toward generations to come.
© 2015 Egyirba High All Rights Reserved
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