I want to tell you a secret.
Come sit down next to me.
This really is something almost no one knows.
When I was around 8 – 10, I wrote and recorded my first single.
It was entitled, “Jesus is my perfectly, only friend.”
Yup. Perfect-ly. On-ly. Friend. You read that correctly.
Seriously. Straight out of only-child-genius.
I sure did. I used to think that I could sing, … y’all that’s a blog all its own about what happens when the black church bigs you up because they love you but your actual talent cannot leave the parking lot yet as an adult you’re grateful because soooo many gifts/skills/talents were birthed from 62 too many “Sing, baby”s. God Bless those incredible Black people.
I digressed, I’m back. On the couch. Telling you my story.
Really. I recorded my first single.
In the suburbs of Macon GA on my Boss Boom Box with the double cassette deck.
I remember the tune and everything.
And at that time, it was quite true. I Loooooove me some Jesus. I was enamored with the story of Jesus. This Black Man elder who was always clear about his divinity. This Hebrew melanated spiritual giant who had to be as peculiar a child as I was, as strong willed, strong personality-having as I, who asked questions as a child, like me, received grace when he disobeyed, and had everything to teach me about living into who I am. I am a church kid. I was always in the temple with the elders, not just because my parents were there, but because I was strangley comfortable learning from and alongside them. I don’t have an adult walk-the-aisle, give-your-hand-to-the minister-and-your-heart-to-God story. Walking with Jesus and learning from the lessons in the biblical text have been like growing up with, growing into transformation alongside his documented experiences. The power of Jesus’ revolutionary work in this world and the testament of Christ consciousness is central to me.
And then one day, I found myself saying, constantly, “I need Jesus, the ancestors and the Orisa.” Much like writing a heartfelt song about Jesus as exemplar and friend, I did NOT fully grasp the depth of my word’s reality until much later. I remember when it started, I remember the first time I was taught about and experienced the Orisa, Yoruba Nature Deities. The Orisa immediately connected in my Spirit. The connection was one that was palpable, that felt like “coming to myself“ in a way that was strangely comfortable and familiar. I spent months saying lightly, “C’mon Osun” every time something good happened but the weight of decided to excavate this was tradition was not light in the least. Studying the ancient wisdom of West African Orisa tradition has helped me understand why Jesus was so connected to the elements, to creation, and walked so intimately with his own divinity. Rereading Jesus turning water into wine and making a blind man to see in an earth ritual has humbled me to power of the Ocean (Olokun), the Opener of the Crossroads (Esu), the sweet waters of the River (Osun), the victory and precision of the thunder (Sango) and the wonder of the resurrection.
Initiation and Priesthood keeps me in awe of the Power of the Gospel.
It’s strange I know.
One of these things seems not like the other. While there are doctrinal and theological differences, what I know to be true is Jesus was in deep alignment with Ancient African spiritual traditions and the sacred texts of his ancestors.
These theologies and religious ways of being simultaneously in the world is uncommon and quietly frankly being an elder in two different religious traditions with totally different systems, is quite unpractical. This is my calling, this is my work: to walk between worlds, to weave them together, to intercede with Holy Ghost power and to perform ebo, to wrestle and ask interrogating questions of texts, doctrines and dogma, to journey to integration so that I leave a trail of breadcrumbs to freedom.
Can you hear me? Family, you absolutely can call on the name of Jesus and Orunmila.
That is what ultimately this has been, owning my home in ancestral work, Christianity and Ifa has been about freeing myself to be at home with me. Whoever or wherever your spiritual home[s] lie, go there with sacred wrestling and gentle grace. And when your Spirit begins to feel strangley comfortable, be willing to unpack your bags thoroughly and stay for a while. When you find yourself saying your version of, “I need Jesus … and the Orisa” you’ll know you’ve made it home and you haven’t been on the journey to freedom alone. As for me and my journey I need boffum, and while your home won’t be like mine, we can walk to Canada together. Ask your Spirit the way. If there is anything I have learned in this life work, it is that Nena knows.