It was muggy outside that day. At four years old, my imagination was just about as free as the smoke that rose into the sky above the pit where my Godmother was burning her trash. DearMama, as we called her, was a multi-tasking homemaker. She could burn trash (yep. It was legal.), pin her wet clothes (that she had washed by hand) to the clothesline, rake leaves, and supervise me as I freely roamed around the yard. And that's exactly what she was doing that day.
A lover of nature, I decided I wanted to play around the huge magnolia tree that had stood tall in DearMama's yard for longer than I had been alive. I danced, marched and ran around the tree as many times as my legs would allow. Of course, all of this was done after I had done my (small) part helping my Godmother with her chores.
In the midst of my fun, however, DearMama suddenly stopped she was doing. She held a wet garment in one hand and a clothespin in the other. Standing beside the clothesline, her face became serious, as if she was listening to something. Although I was aware of the change in demeanor, I kept playing.
Suddenly, her soft voice called gently to me.
"Come on, Nae. Let's go inside for a second."
I loved DearMama with all of my heart and soul. So even though I was disappointed, I didn't hesitate to move along with her toward the door. I did ask "why" as I took her hand to go inside, but I never stopped following her command.
"We'll come back out a little later," I remember her saying.
With everything in hand, we walked through the garage, and into the door that led to the living room. No sooner, however, than we had closed the door behind us, something happened.
Peering through the large windows into the yard where we had just left, something happened-something that has stuck with me since that day: Where I had stood mere seconds before laid that massive tree around which I had been playing. It's roots had given out. It's time in life had expired, and subsequently, it had to fall. And so it did-in the very place where I had made my playground.
DearMama let out a scream-an " Ooohh Lord Jesus!" She grabbed me, sat down with me in her big chair and began to weep as she held me close and just rocked. Her hand right hand never left my head and her left hand never moved from my back. We stayed that way for what seemed like forever as she cried and whispered thanks to God. At that moment, I think we both understood that by God's grace, I had escaped the hands of death.
Friends, so many times, we don't recognize our power. Sometimes, that power is silent-it has no platform, and no followers. For some of us, our existence seems so insignificant because we feel like we don't make major contributions to our households, society, or communities.
Perhaps we are unemployed or only bring in a minimal income to our household.
Maybe we are the ones that stay home and take care of the children or elderly parents.
It may even be that we have chosen a career path that is undervalued within our society.
Here's the thing: I don't know how much education DearMama had. Quite frankly, I never really cared. All I knew is that every day when I arrived, she would have her apron on, and my bacon, sausage and oatmeal would be hot. The hugs reserved especially for me were always readily available, and I could watch anything I wanted to watch on PBS (as long as it came on before or after The Price is Right, Young and The Restless, and Oprah). DearMama, a childless woman, created an environment full of love and freedom for me. Because of this, I trusted her enough not to challenge her when she changed our routine that day, and cut my playtime short. It is quite safe to say that because of my beautiful, trash-burning, clothesline-having, oatmeal making homemaker of a Godmother, the tree's life ended, but mine did not. I lived on, went to college, became an educator, wife, mother, singer, musician, and writer all because of the silent power of one woman who probably didn't even recognize her own strength. Because of her, I was able to grow, develop, and eventually use my gifts and talents to help others. I can never be absolutely sure of this, but I can only assume that as an educator, I have been able to plant seeds of hope into children and adults, alike. As a musician and singer, I've been able to use my voice to minister to the hurting places of those who listen. As a mother, I am getting to contribute knowledge to the next generation through my children. As a writer, I'm able to write books and blogs that set out to inspire and encourage those gracious enough to read my work.
Always remember that your life is intricately woven into the fabric of purpose. Even if you feel like all you ever do is make oatmeal, burn trash, and hang clothes on the clothesline, the power behind your purpose is infinite.
Never forget that you matter and are making a difference in someone's life just by being who you are.