Exploring the meaning of life…

ImageIt must have been so frightening and confusing for the people trapped in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the terrorists attacked America on 9/11.  I have often thought what it must have been like to not to know what was happening.  This is my tribute to the victims, the survivors, their families, and all the brave men and women who died trying to rescue them.

In Their Hands They Will Bear You Up

The buildings all shake as my world falls apart.

I scream and I scream as fear tortures my heart.

I reach and I grope…something’s scorching my hand,

burning flesh and my soul and the soul of all man.


My heart skips a beat as I look for my wife

and my children. “Oh, God! They are my whole life.”

I call out their names and I scream in my head.

But no words do I hear as the stop light turns red.


Do I stop? I’m confused. Am I dead or awake?

Then it happens again as I feel the earth quake.

I am falling and falling, just where I don’t know.

The ashes are hot! It is hell here below.


I’m covered with bricks and lots of debris

and tangled among all the limbs of a tree.

I scramble to stand, something’s under my feet.

I look and discover flesh burned in the heat.


But this is the thing I don’t quite understand:

there’s nobody at all, not a woman or man.

Just a pile of seared flesh and… maybe it’s mine…

“Shine the light!” I scream. “Someone help the light shine!”


The policeman is busy and no help comes my way.

The voices again! “Shsss, what did you say?”

The whistles are coming from above and below.

The stop light’s now green so I guess I can go.


“I’m going,” I shout, but my legs are just stumps.

“Come on,” screams a man and he finally jumps

out the window because all his clothes are on fire.

Look, there’s a beautiful bird on that wire!


I’m up and then down and I think I have died.

And all I can say is please Lord tell me why?

What has taken my life? Did our building explode?

Then I see on the back of an angel I rode.


I still smell the smoke but its drifting away.

I look down below, there are others that stayed.

My angels flies on with me on her back

but suddenly I hear someone cry out for Jack.


“Stop, turn around! Someone’s calling my name!”

If I take you back now you will have so much pain.

You won’t have your legs for the rest of your life.

“I don’t care about that. I just want my wife!


Alright, she said and she turned us around.

And slowly descended through the smoke to the ground.

“Thank you,” I cried. “The time’s just not right.

I know what’s ahead and I’m ready to fight!”


That’s all I remember. Now I’m back on the ground.

Listening for help, but I don’t hear a sound.

Now I’m screaming and shouting as loud as I can.

“I hear a small voice. Yes! The voice of a man!”


The searchers have found me! There’s joy in my heart.

“We’re coming,” they shouted. “Someone get the cart.”

They’re drilling and sawing to free me from harm.

They’re calling for others. They sound the alarm.


“There’s a live one,” they’re shouting. “Bring water, supplies.

There’s work to be done. We can’t let him die!”

They all work with fervor to free me at last.

I ask them, “What happened – was there some kind of blast?”


“It was terrorists and planes and many are dead.

You’re lucky you made it,” the old man said.

“The angel – she told me that it was my choice.”

The old man sputtered and then lost his voice.


Finally he said, “Well, that’s great young man.

Your ride’s on the way,” and he offered his hand.

With strong arms they pulled me up and around

and they gasped when they saw my burned legs on the ground.


“Don’t worry about that. I really don’t care.

I’ll ask them to make me a brand new pair.”

They silently nodded with tears in their eyes

cause I looked like a kid who had just won a prize.


My family was waiting for me to arrive.

I shouted to them, “I’m alive, I’m alive!”

“It’s Daddy!” my children screamed in my ear.

I suddenly knew I had nothing to fear.


I pondered the angel – was she real or a dream?

I know sometimes things are not as they seem.

It was then that I saw them. Yes, more than just one!

They kissed me goodbye, for their work now was done.


I blew them a kiss and thanked them again.

“I made the right choice – I know that I’ll mend.

Many others still need you, trapped under debris.”

They smiled as they left – they had others to free.

God bless America. 

“In their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot on a stone.” Luke 4:11


Have you ever felt that you’ve made so many mistakes that your life is not redeemable? Have you tried to stop doing drugs and alcohol and have failed? Have you tried to be a good parent but you’ve missed the mark? Do you see your life as just one big failure after another? Are you too ashamed to ask God for another chance? If that quickens your spirit, then God is standing by to tell you the truth about failure:

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” 2 Corinthians 4:16.

When we feel like we’ve failed, we do not give ourselves the chance to let God pick us up and brush us off again. And usually when we don’t want to come before God and ask for help, it is because we are ashamed. Shame is a very dangerous feeling to harbor. Guilt is what we feel about the things we have done wrong. We feel guilty that we ate another piece of pie or that we skipped class. Shame, however, is a very different emotion. Shame goes to the heart of who we are. Shame can tear us apart and keep us from coming before the throne of God to ask for forgiveness. Shame can keep us from changing because it lies to us and tells us that we are bad people and don’t deserve God’s love. If you are experiencing those feelings then back off for a minute and take a look at it. Those feelings are not from God. Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, says, “God is able to take mistakes, when they are committed to Him, and make of them something for our good and for His glory.”


Remember every morning when you awaken that God’s mercies are fresh and new and that He will never give up on you!

Have a happy journey!

Malcolm X                                                                              

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” Malcolm X

When Malcolm X became involved with the Nation of Islam, it literally changed his life. He went from a thief and pimp to a respected leader against racism in the United States. The changes to his life were dramatic. Not only did others respect him, he finally did something with his life that gained him some self-respect. In his beginning years with the Nation of Islam, he advocated segregation between blacks and whites. He advocated that blacks should take back their human rights denied them for so long by any means necessary, including violence. The reason I selected the above quote from one of his speeches is because it shows that he outgrew the Nation of Islam. He suddenly became aware that he could use his words to bring about this change that he so longed for in America.

In the last two years before he was murdered, he made a journey to Saudi Arabia, and once again, he was moved in a life-changing way. This trip brought him the realization that he needed to speak for all people whose human rights have been stripped away from them regardless of race or color. With this realization, he had come full circle, and because this revelation brought a new light and power in him to change the world, the Nation of Islam considered him a threat.  

 Malcolm X Timeline:

May 19, 1925 Malcolm Little is born in Omaha, NE.

1929 The family’s Lansing, MI, home is burned to the ground.

1931 Malcolm’s father is found dead on the town’s trolley tracks.

1946 Malcolm is sentenced to 8-10 years for armed robbery; serves 6 years at Charlestown, MA State Prison.

1948-49 Converts to the Nation of Islam while in prison.

1953 Changes name from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X and becomes Assistant Minister of Nation of Islam’s Detroit Temple.

1954 Promoted to Minister of Nation of Islam’s New York Temple.

1958 Marries Sister Betty X in Lansing, Michigan.

1959 Travels to Middle East and Africa.

1963 Nation of Islam orders Malcolm X to be silent, allegedly because of remarks concerning President Kennedy’s assassination.

March, 1964 Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam and starts his new organization, Muslim Mosque, Inc.

April, 1964 Travels to Middle East and Africa.

May, 1964 Starts the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), a secular political group.

February 14, 1965 Malcolm X’s home is firebombed.

February 21, 1965 Malcolm X is assassinated as he begins speaking at the Audubon Ballroom, New York.


Among the themes that Malcolm X used in his writing and in his speeches are:


Survival in a White Society

Humanity and Rights



Civil Rights

Black Power

                                          Contributions to African Americans:                                  

Malcolm X left behind a powerful message – black people needed to become educated and to fight for their rights as human beings. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. In the late 1960s, when black activists became more radical, Malcolm X’s teachings were part of the foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power Movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the adoption of the slogan “Black is Beautiful” can all trace their roots to Malcolm X. In a little more than a year from his prison release, he was named the minister at the NOI’s Boston mosque. Muhammad Speaks, the NOI newspaper, was founded by Malcolm X. He became a prominent speaker at universities, television and radio. In 1963, The New York Times named him as the second most sought after speaker in the United States. He led the Unity Rally in Harlem in 1963 which became one of the nations largest civil rights events. In 1964, he formed the Muslin Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro- American Unity.

Audioclip from Malcolm’s famous speech: By Any Means Necessary


From the days when African Americans relied on Negro spirituals to lift them high above the tragedy of slavery, many great leaders, Malcolm X included, took up the fight to bring racial equality to the oppressed. I wanted to link their words together in a poem. For poetry purposes, some of their words have been condensed and reworded.

My Tribute to the Great Leaders for Equality 

“We the people” took up the cry

of equality for all men.

Though eloquent and meaning well,

it applied not to black men.

On ships they came against their will,    

Body to body they laid.

Not understanding what was ahead –

that their lives were just for “trade.”

Frederick Douglas found the words

to give hope to those in pain.                                                          

He told them that the “year will come”

And with it, “freedom’s reign.”

Booker T. admonished all

that “nothing comes without hard work.”

But still they paid the price in blood,

for the white man’s sin still lurked.    

Du Buis took up the battle cry,

said that “merit isn’t in the skin.”

Success just isn’t measured there

but in the struggles that we win.

Dunbar says, “We wear the mask”

the mask that grins and lies.

And in the mask it “hides our cheeks

and shades our weary eyes.” 

Then Claude McKay says “If we must die,

don’t let it be like hogs.

When all around we hear the cry

of the mad and hungry dogs.” 

“What happens to a dream deferred

when all is said and done?

Does it just dry up and fade away

like a raisin in the sun?”

Malcolm X spoke to the crowds  

in many public scenes

and promised they would claim their rights

by “any necessary means.”

“I have a dream,” King said to all,

“that my children will have their day

when they’re judged not by the skin they wear

but by the character they display.”

Dedicated to all those who lived their life that others might have freedom in our great country.

Secondary Research Sources:

DeCaro, Jr., Louis A. On the Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X. New York: New York University Press, 1996. Print.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

Evanzz, Karl. The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1992. Print.

Friedly, Michael. Malcolm X: The Assassination. New York: One World, 1992. Print.

“Malcolm X Biography.” BioTrueStory, 2012. Web. 1 August 2012.

Published Works by Malcolm X with links:

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X. With the assistance of Alex Haley. New York: Grove Press, 1965. OCLC 219493184.
  • Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. George Breitman, ed. New York: Merit Publishers, 1965. OCLC 256095445.
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People. New York: Young Socialist Alliance, 1965. OCLC 81990227.
  • Two Speeches by Malcolm X. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1965. OCLC 19464959.
  • Malcolm X on Afro-American History. New York: Merit Publishers, 1967. OCLC 78155009.
  • The Speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard. Archie Epps, ed. New York: Morrow, 1968. OCLC 185901618.
  • By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. George Breitman, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970. OCLC 249307.
  • The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X. Benjamin Karim, ed. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. OCLC 149849.
  • The Last Speeches. Bruce Perry, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-87348-543-2.
  • Malcolm X Talks to Young People: Speeches in the United States, Britain, and Africa. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0-87348-962-1.
  • February 1965: The Final Speeches. Steve Clark, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1992. ISBN 978-0-87348-749-8.

ImageI’ve recently discovered a marvelous book – Spiritual Literacy- by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat.  I was hooked from the introduction: “In the pages to come, you are invited to join others who have found that spirituality is played out through the ordinary and the everyday.  For when we are spiritually literate, we discover that the whole world is charged with sacred meaning” (26).                                                                                                                             Image

We often buy into the fallacy that it is the BIG deals that yield spirituality in our lives, like parting the waters or causing bushes to catch on fire.  We overlook the small, everyday, ordinary occurances that we experience daily.  Partly, this is because we lack vision.  Unless we are looking for the spiritual, we can live everyday of our lives in blindness, thinking nothing spiritual ever happens.  We go to work, feed the children, mow the yard – we are tired and spent.  How can we see beauty in these chores? 

From Native Americans to the Transcendental poets, we have been shown the sacred in the beauty of our world.  We just need to take the time to look for it in our everyday lives.  Some days we may have to look harder than others, but the point is that we must look.  Develop the habit of searching for beauty and God in everyday experiences.  It can change your life!

Have a wonderful journey!


When my teenage friends were listening to the Beatles, we were playing Johnny Cash at my house.  I can remember putting those huge records in the record player and listening to Johnny Cash sing the Folsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire.  Then, with technology, we finally advanced to 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, and at last, cd’s.  But I didn’t know the man behind the music until recent years, except that I knew he wore black.  I didn’t know the haunted man who would one day in 1967 crawl into Nickajack Cave to die.

Most people know the basic story behind Cash.  He was raised in poverty in Dyess, Arkansas.  He and his brother, Jack, helped their parents pick cotton as soon as they could hold the bags.  His abusive father always favored Jack over J.R., as he was then called, and blamed him for Jack’s horrible death when he was pulled into a table saw.  The pain and anguish of his childhood was never far from his thoughts, although he tried in many ways to bury it.  He left Dyess to enlist in the Air Force, his ticket out of the pain and dismal poverty of his childhood.  When he returned from the service, he moved to Memphis and the rest is history.  Sam Phillips of Sun Records signed him and the Tennessee Two on his label.                                                                                                                             

A few years of the lifestyle of touring  musicians took its toll on him.  He turned to booze and amphetamines, which were easy to get at the time, and eventually to barbiturates to bring him down from the uppers.  Johnny Cash was an addict waiting to happen and it didn’t take long for him to get hooked.  He loved the energy of the amphetamines, but they impaired his already radical behavior.  He began carrying guns and firing them for no reason.  Once he and Sammy Davis Jr. got thrown out of a hotel in Australia when they staged a gun fight in the lobby in front of guests.  They only fired blanks, but they scared everyone to death.  He chopped through locked doors in hotels with a hatchet to wake up his band.  He dropped a huge load of horse manure in one hotel lobby.  He and his tour started carrying a chain saw in the car and when they would roll into a town in the early dawn hours, they would find the nicest, neatest yard in town and cut down one of the trees.  There seemed to be no end to the mischief and destruction that he could do.  He ruined his career and marriage due to his addiction.  No one wanted to hear anything more about Johnny Cash.  He was no longer welcome in most country music halls.

When his pain and misery overtook him, he decided to end it all.  Drugged almost out of his mind, he went to Nickajack Cave in Marion County, Tennessee, to end his life.  He crawled for what seemed like hours on his belly and knees in pitch-black darkness until his flashlight went out, and then he laid down to die.  The man in black was as far away from God as he could get.  He had turned away from the light and embraced the darkness, almost begging it to take him out of the world.  To his surprise, he had a spiritual awakening there on his belly in Nickajack Cave.  God told him He wasn’t through with him yet and that his days as a drug addict were numbered.  Without a light, he crawled back out of the cave the same way he had crawled in and found his mother and June Carter waiting outside the cave for him.  His mother, who lived in California at the time, had flown to Tennessee because she had a premonition that he needed her.  In the next month he detoxed from pills and booze and recharged his career in music.  He focused his music on those people, who like him, had been through the darkness and wanted to find the light.  He sang at prisons and for presidents.  He understood what lay in the darkness because he had crawled every inch of it on his belly to get to the light.  He saw the souls of the prisoners and the down-and-out addicts, and he never forgot that kind of pain.

If you’re stuck in the mire of the darkness, listen to the man in black.  Crawl to the light and He will be there waiting for you.

Have a happy journey!



God is never late, but He has missed some really good opportunities to be early in my life.  Have you ever wondered about the timing of God’s answers to your prayers?  I have.  But God showed me that He knows when to act.  Here is my story:

Almost twenty years ago, I took my then four-year-old daughter roller-skating at a crowded, popular roller rink.  She didn’t know how to skate, so I held her left hand, and she used her right hand to cling to the bar around the rink.  The problem was that you couldn’t go all away around the rink that way.  At one end of the rink, there was a roller-coaster type contraption they called the “wave.”  The skaters, mostly boys, were going through it so fast that it took my breath away.   When they got to the end, they literally “flew” out at a rate of speed that made me dizzy.  Sometimes they turned the lights off and you skated to strobe-lights, which only made it more difficult to navigate.  If you didn’t go through it, you had no other alternative except to skate around it, putting you in the path of the skaters that were flying out of it.

As we approached it for the first time, I heard in my soul: “Remember Glenda.”  Glenda, a childhood friend of mine, broke her arm at the roller rink as all of us watched helplessly.  When I heard that, I stopped and changed sides with my daughter, just in case if something happened at the wave, it would be me that got hit and not my daughter.  We skated around that way for a couple of minutes and then it happened: a boy coming out of the wave hit me, knocking us both down.  If I hadn’t changed sides with my daughter, she would have been hit instead of me.  I broke my right arm so badly that they had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital.  I think it was the most pain that I have ever experienced in my whole life.                                                                                                

At the hospital, the doctor told me that it would most likely require surgery to repair.  They put a temporary cast on it, and I agreed to see an Orthopedic Surgeon the next day.  For purposes of anonymity, I will call him Dr. Jones for this story.  Dr. Jones had a reputation for  ungodly, arrogant behavior – brilliant- but arrogant.  He xrayed my arm the next day and gave me the devastating news – I would never have the use of my right arm again.   He put on another cast, and I left with no hope.  I was a nurse and a single mother – how could I make it without my right arm?

Months later when the cast came off, he sent me to therapy three times a week.  My arm still felt broken, and I could not straighten it.  I worked at an orthopedic facility and had therapy there.  The therapists told me that when I could hold a gallon of milk with my arm, it would be healed.  I couldn’t even hold a small one-pound can of green beans without horrible pain.  At the end of each therapy session, one of the therapists would try to straighten my arm out a little more, and I always cried.  These therapists were my friends and co-workers, and they hated to see me cry.   After a couple of months, the therapists advised me to go back to the doctor because I had made no progress.  I went back to see Dr. Jones.  He xrayed my arm and told me we had to start all over again, which meant he would have to surgically rebreak my arm, recast it and then go through therapy again. 

When I walked to my car, I felt helpless again.  I just knew I wouldn’t be able to stand that again.  I started driving home, crying, and pleading with God.  I had prayed that He would heal my arm from the very beginning, but it didn’t happen.  I told him I didn’t think I could go through it all again and begged Him to heal it.  I felt a sudden rush of heat and tingling go all through my arm.  As if by magic, my arm straightened out perfectly.  It seemed so magical that I  looked around for fairy dust.  Amazed, I watched my arm straighten out with absolutely no pain.  When I got home, I ran to my refrigerator and held a gallon of milk with my right arm.  My arm was painless and strong.  I cried with joy. The next day I went back to see Dr. Jones.  I didn’t know what I was going to tell him.  As I said, he was arrogant.  I thought he would make fun of me if I told him God healed it.  All my sources that knew him well told me that he didn’t believe in God. 

When he walked into my room, I showed him my arm, which was now perfectly straight.

“What happened?” he asked me in disbelief.
“God healed my arm,” I replied.
He took my arm and moved it around, something he couldn’t do the day before without me crying out in pain.
“Let’s get an xray,” he said.

We did the xray, and I waited in his office for him to come and give me the results.  When he entered the room, he had my chart in his hand.  He did not say a word, but sat down at his desk and started writing.  When he had finished, he handed me my chart to read.  This is what he wrote:

“Miraculously healed.”

He stood up, smiled and offered me his right hand.  No more words were necessary.

If God had healed my arm in the beginning, Dr. Jones and my therapy team would not have been able to be a part of this miracle.  With God in charge, this miracle affected many people.  He is never late.

Have a happy journey!

   Dreams can be wonderful and perplexing.  Some people say they never dream and others have spectacular dreams every night that they can remember in great detail.  But what about our dreams for our lives?  If you asked people on the street what their dream is most would reply something like – I want to be a movie star, or I want to play in the NFL someday, or I want to be rich.  But what if your dream was to go to bed without hunger?                                                                                             

I live in Memphis only a few miles from one of the poorest zipcodes in the United States.  The school programs here offer children supper as well as breakfast and lunch.  On Martin Luther King day, I think it is good to note that there is some progress on the fulfillment of his dream.  To help children do well at school and graduate, sometimes you have to eliminate the effects of poverty before these children are going to care about their future.

Sometimes you have to teach children how to dream.  It is not something that comes naturally when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.  Dreams of college don’t figure into their minds.  So if we are going to teach children to dream, we must teach them to dream BIG.  We all need to learn how to dream BIG.

But is that realistic, you say?  Absolutely, and I will tell you why.  We need to learn to dream so BIG that the only way we can get there is through God.  Of course we need to have confidence in ourselves, but it is more important to have confidence in God.  Unwavering.  Beyond any doubt.  Complete and total.  With every fiber of our being.  That is how dreams are achieved.

Have a happy journey and dream BIG!


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