I believe I was in ninth grade when Tennessee came out. It was the first single released by Arrested Development. I was attracted to them as a group—the language, the history, the sociology, the anthropology, the activism, the truth, the justice, and the love that deeply shaped their experience, and consequently, their lyrics. (I must note, I also LOVED their bohemian, pre-dirty backpacker sense of style.) In some ways, these lyrics are apropos for this leg of my journey. (I’m writing this as I sit in my connecting flight from Charlotte to Nashville.)
Lord I've really been real stressed
Down and out, losin ground
Although I am black and proud
Problems got me pessimistic
Brothers and sisters keep messin up
Why does it have to be so damn tuff?
I don't know where I can go
To let these ghosts out of my skull
Last year, I was quite stressed, navigating my way through ministry (church work, school work, work work). I’ve seen and heard some things that have caused me great distress: communities in despair, hopelessness, insecurity, lovelessness, and injustice. I’m not pessimistic, but I certainly do need a place/time to, as Speech of Arrested Development said, “let these ghosts out of my skull.” Decompression. Journaling. Reflection.
My grandmas past, my brothers gone
I never at once felt so alone
I have been blessed with meaningful relationships this year, both at Drew and beyond, so I cannot say that loneliness is an issue. Though distance separates us, I’ve grown closer with my mother, praise be to God. Through prayer, intentional time to cultivate a relationship, I’ve grown closer to God. At times I’ve had moments of loneliness, but generally, I have felt both connected to God and the folks in my life. Feeling lonely is rather tough when you live in a house with two amazing women of God!
I know you're supposed to be my steering wheel
Not just my spare tire (home)
But lord I ask you (home)
To be my guiding force and truth
For some strange reason it had to be
He guided me to Tennessee
But still, I’ve been doing much of the steering in my life. I, too, want the Lord to lead me and guide me, to order my steps. Actually, I know that He already has ordered my steps. Truth is, I want to walk in those paths of mercy and truth, purpose and destiny, that God has ordained and planned for me.
So going to Tennessee is as much about my own Shalom as it is about the Shalom of the people in Gallatin. It has to be that way, especially considering that we are woven together in, what Dr. King calls, “an inescapable garment of destiny.” As I move forward in my “being still” and listening attentively to God about my current and next steps, I am confident that the place where revelation and metamorphosis will happen is in Tennessee. For some strange reason, He guided me to Tennessee…
It is strange in that it a new experience, a place I’ve never been before, people I’ve never interacted with. By definition, to be strange is to generate a feeling of uneasiness and to cause one to be unsettled. Tennessee is strange in the newness of it all, but I’m not unsettled. I am trusting God.
©Image taken on US Airways FLight 1021 en route to Nashville, Tennessee
© Tennessee by Arrested Development, 1991.