Thursday, September 29, 2005

Broken-Winged Bird

This was my submission to a new book describing the Baha'i Black Men's Gathering. I've been inspired to write a few reflections on the Gathering and about the spiritual significance of being a man of African Descent. I'll start with this one.
"O God!. This is a broken-winged bird and his flight is very slow.."
When I came to the gathering, I was in a process of healing from a life-time of alienation from myself and from the black community. I came with the wounds from that double-edged sword of the race prejudice of white people and the constant questioning of my "blackness" from black people. I had long believed that I had only two choices as a young black man, to live an assimilated life on the margins of white society, or play the ever popular "ghetto" stereotypes of what a black man in America is supposed to be. I had rejected both options, but could not find a path to blackness that was noble to me. I was lost. I had never consciously chosen to spend an entire week with a group of black men before, and the only thing that motivated me to do so was my desire to serve. What I discovered at the gathering changed my life. I experienced prayer like I never had before. I witnessed black men of all hues, all backgrounds embrace, love and accept each other. I studied the Word of God with brothers striving to arise and play their part in God's Plan. My story was treated as equal to all others and no one felt a need to test my blackness. I discovered that I did not have to chose between assimilation or being a "thug". I could become a new creation, a new kind of black man, a "pupil of the eye". Because of the gathering I am now happy and proud to be black because I recognize that its signficance lies in contributing our "great gifts of mind and heart" to the building of a new social order, a divine civilization. Because of the gathering my wings are mended and I am able to soar.