Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sprituality and Creativity: An Interview for Link TV

God Will Work it Out

When I saw this piece of art, I knew I’d stumbled upon my new motto. Perhaps not new. It was something I believed, if not articulated daily—but now, now that I owned the work—rusted nail for arms, a pipe-like tool, its torso, a five-sided nut her head, with a marble on top for balance, and another marble under her foot, the lower body a piece of another tool shaped like a compass—a red cowry on her womb--God will work it out.

I now had a visible place to set my daily meditation.

Now that marble underfoot, what was that? Perhaps it was a gentle reminder that nothing is certain in life except God? Worked for me. I am a firm believer that Allah is "all in all, the being that encompasses everything" and as such, Allah is the only reality.

If you understand this, then you understand why I love the Matrix trilogy.

The sculpture is captured against a white metal surface. More sturdy than heavy, more indicative of longevity than the temporal nature of matter or things—I felt connected to Atiba's art piece: "God will work it out." It was the answer to something specific and something broader like life everlasting from that day forward, maybe before that too.

God has worked it out, whether that is how do I raise my children without a father and how do I get through graduate school and pay my bills, or how do I address this loneliness that often keeps me trapped indoors, or how do I keep moving forward when I don’t as if I am putting my best foot forward all the time because I allow myself to take on too much and get scattered.

The goddess comes through and I shake off the doubt and in spite of my inconsistencies and over zealousness things work out okay.

Because both personally and professionally and on a soul level God or the Goddess as I like to call her, has worked it out on so many levels time and time again, I know I am on the path because she has and continues to guide me.

When I was a kid, we prayed for guidance. Each time we’d leave the house my dad would pray to be “guided on the straight path, the path of those who have favor, not those who have incurred the creator’s wrath, or those who have gone astray after hearing the correct teaching.” I continued this with my children, my brother with his kids.

Now that my children are grown and I leave the house alone, I ask for the goddess’ blessings on me and my family, and hope by my actions—words and deeds I will remain on the straight path. I even ask for reminders or hints that I am doing the work I was set here to do. I am affirmed by angels or people sent with messages for me they might not know they bear. (I have been the bearer of news for others also many times.)

This morning was so scattered, perhaps because the interviewer is an outsider and didn’t know what questions to ask me because she doesn’t know me—I think the interview would have gone better it there had been a longer pre-interview where we could have rehearsed the questions and answers. (I signed the release, and she said she was happy, but I wasn't--it felt rambling and disjointed.) I think I could have made a better film because I know the Islamic culture and the people and the history of this community.

She also changed the questions. I thought I was going to talk about what I cherish about the practice and the faith, its principles and values and how that connects to my professional work at the college where I teach, why I teach writing and reading, and to my work within the Prison Abolition Movement--the new slavery or Maafa, and how awareness of the Maafa moves us, I believe, into wellness and well-being along some of the more important social and political chakras, that is, our collective and individual spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and economic chakras or human centers of development.

I think the connection for me, the place where the interviewer, Iyabu, is my blessing is the India Arie connection. She seemed really connected to my daughter's work: paintings and photography are more accessible than words. But back to my blessings, Iyabu, who used to live in Atlanta, might be able to help us get the Maafa Commemoration CD project off the ground with our first major artist granting approval.

It would been better to just talk about the Maafa, but her topic was religion. I was all ready to share how invisible I feel in this society and she asked me questions about cultural pluralism. Like what is that?! Why should a black woman be expected to think about cultural inclusion when we are, black people are, left out of every scene in every picture--nationally and globally, even though we are the source of all creativity. I am not being a snob, it's a reality. If we are the first people, and we are, then everything else derives from an African source, which means it all comes from us.

Hum. Creativity and Islam?

My spirituality opens me to creativity because I am trying to do my work, the work I was sent to do, the work my soul was assigned, and I use the tools at my disposal which at this point is my writing, before it was visual arts—drawing and painting and sculpting and dancing. I still like to dance, but my dance is how I worship, how I praise the creator.

There is so much that was left unsaid. I felt we were all over the place.

I thought we were going to speak about what I cherished about my path, the practice and the faith. I said a little, but there was so much more like the discipline, the organization, the fellowship, the spiritual centeredness. Islam’s simplicity. But then I feel this spiritual connection to the who and what I am at the core, when I am at a rally with black people led by Harry Belafonte, Ron Dellums, and Barbara Lee, at an African Celebration through Poetry reading at the West Oakland Branch Library, at a San Franciso Black Film Festival event, at the Museum of the African Diaspora where Alice Walker is being interviewed, at a Linda Tillery Cultural Heritage concert, and so on.

One's spirituality is not a place or a particular activity. Allah says the earth is its home. This gives a believer permission to expand not shrink in her involvement in the world, that if she feels closed in or disconnected then, she is to move out and find someplace better suited to express her unique and valuable gifts.

When I think about organized religion, I think Islam is the easiest to incorporate and follow—it all seems centered around the fact that Allah wants to make things easy for us and if there is difficulty it is man or woman inserting him or herself, not Allah.

Islam teaches us to love ourselves and others and to take care of the planet and its creatures, something I take seriously. I cried over the unnecessarily murder of the trees around Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Better to let them die of natural causes than to kill them to lessen the work for the Public Works Department over the next decade.

I think on Winter Solstice weekend it is a blessing to think about how one’s spirituality sustains one’s life and there is not separation –everything is connected to everything along a continuum which is not linear rather linked to everything now and before and forever after, even what we cannot perceive or refuse to acknowledge.

So this morning allows me to reflect on my life and my blessings: my children, the greatest creative moment of my life and I thank the creator for them and all the ways they have expanded my life just by including me in their walk both consciously and unconsciously.

It is cold today and I am sitting here freezing.


At 10:04 PM, Blogger doctoru said...

Dada Wanda
I went looking for you and found you here, and me too in your words about not going out.... Thank you for these and all all all in this all that you consistently be.


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