» Vessel. Voice. Visionary.

Because, its my time.

In His Awesomeness

"Castillo San Felipe del Morro has seen over 400 years of history. Inside these walls, people lived, worked and died. Their stories are a part of this place".

"It is an aesthetic. Talking to your neighbor is an art. To communicate is the meaning of life--the conversations, the smiles. Alienation is a sickness". 

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Both quotes were collected as I was on vacation in Puerto Rico, which by the way, was AMAZING! The first quote was taken from a sign in Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a fortification in San Juan. It was built over the course of 250 years to protect Spain's hold over Puerto Rico, an island everyone wanted. (Please research it, you won't be disappointed!). As I walked through the fort, I was in absolute awe and was stilled. I walked where centuries of soldiers walked, slept, trained, and died. I looked out upon the waters that those very same soldiers looked for their enemy. I sweated from the same sun that the soldiers woke up to. It took my breath away. Not that I've never went to a musuem in my lifetime, but it was different this time. It was different because for some reason, it was real to me. Sitting in the chapel where I'm sure hundreds of soldiers prayed that they either wouldn't die, would die with honor, for protection for their families or an end to the war, sobered me. And in the course of the tour, I thought about the awesomeness of God. That He gave humans the ability to build this majestic fort, in all it's intricacies and beauty, with tools that we would look at as inferior today. That He would allow a structure like this to be in existence for their centuries, our centuries and centuries to come. That in every carving and chisel, He showed Himself

Above is a picture I took of the fort. Like, wow. This is where I see God. In the way the water hits the rocks, but never washes them away. In the way I can see the ocean, the world beyond me, through the iron bars. In the way that the very same walls I touch to absorb the feel, absorbed the feel of hundreds of cannon balls repeatedly. To see and experience the walls that "people worked, lived and died" in is to experience God in His awesomeness. 

That brings me to my next quote. These words were said by one of the employees of the hotel I stayed at (which by the way, I would recommend a million times). He was talking about the reason why Old San Juan, where I stayed, was so beautiful to him. It was very close knit, houses were right next to each other, with balconies directly in line with one another. One could be walking and see right into one's home, while they watched tv or washed dishes or even where they slept. He told us how one man fought to preserve this sense of community within Old San Juan, the historic colonial style, while others wanted to tear it down and become "modernized". He expressed his displeasure with the latter with the words above. Now, the reason why what he said stuck out to me is because as this world becomes more "technologically advanced", we lose the sense of humanity. All the advances in phones, and computers, and buildings, and social media, and this and that, cause us to be more individualized, more alienated--and the man is right--it is a sickness. We can't talk to one another, can't communicate in a healthy way. We don't know who lives next door to us, let alone who we're in relationships/friendships with. We have dinner with our phones, sleep with our phones, wake up with our phones, walk with our phones, swim with our phones, fly with our phones, shower with our phones, cook with our phones, and the list goes on. Anything we want to do, you can bet someone has designed something to allow us to do it. We can no longer hold decent conversations because our 140 characters can do that for us. It makes me sad and I am both a victim and perpertrator. When the end of your life comes, what will you remember? The latest technology you had access to or the people you loved that you didn't? The amount of followers/friends you had on social media or the lack of them in real life? How much of your life you could connect to one device or how much of your life was broken? When I think of the fort and the tools it took them to build it, I only think of it how much we would say how they are inferior if used now, but just think--after hundreds of years, it's still standing. Houses that are built today fall to pieces in less than 10. Nothing is built to last, merely built to please--to look good but have no substance. It also makes me think of the true meaning of life. Is it to gather everything available and become tech saavy or LIVE? I would go with the latter. God created us to communicate, to bring joy to one another, to be there for one another in the time of need. He created us to be something, to do something, but most of all share something

So the next time you have a chance to upgrade to a better phone, or move to a more modern home, or post a photo from your family gathering on social media, take a second to think. Will this matter

Behind The Wheel

I drove. For the first time, I didn't drive in a limo or another person's car. I was behind the wheel of the car that drove in the funeral processional. It was the marker of how grown I was; this time, I wasn't being shielded from the pains of death--I was head-on in it. It felt weird, icky almost. I didn't want to do it once it began. I wanted to relinquish control, be able to give up the wheel and retreat to the back seat where I could stare out the window and imagine myself somewhere else, or escape to sleep. Now, this post isn't all about death and neither is my blog; rather it's about the process of growing up. It's not easy. It comes with great rewards and great pains. Driving behind the wheel made me acknowledge that I had a license, a car, a degree, an apartment, bills to pay etc.---grown up responsibilties. It also made me acknowledge that even when I didn't want to do something, it didn't matter. If it had to be done, it had to. I realized the sacrifices of growing up. It was my boyfriend's uncle so of course he shouldn't have driven, and his little sister couldn't drive so I was the perfect and only candidate. It was the last place I wanted to be, but the only place I needed to and should have been. I had my own battles, but my boyfriend needed me in his so I had to put my adult pants on, and even if it hurt, be present. 

The greatest lesson though, is past the sacrifices themselves--it's the strength in the sacrifice. The last funeral I went to didn't work out in my favor; I was a big ball of mess, and I didn't think I would be able to go to funerals for a long time. Now, I'm sure I won't be attending funerals all "willy nilly", but I made it through this one. And I'll make it through another one day. There is an untapped well of resilience within me. In my process of growing up while getting older (because they can happen independently of one another), I realize that there is more in me than I give myself credit for. I am more than even what I allow myself to be. The sacrifice that day didn't show my strength: my strength showed my sacrifice.

The Ultimate Paradox

Death must be the most paradoxical thing I know. With few other things does a dichotomy exist. How does one both rejoice and mourn over death at the same time? How is one supposed to be grateful that their loved one no longer has to feel the sting of life on earth while simultaneously acknowledging the void that they have left? This week should be one of the happiest weeks of my life and for the most part, it is. I am graduating from college after four years with a bachelor's degree. I did the major I wanted and I have nothing but brightness in my future. But, one piece of the puzzle is missing, and pieces of other puzzles are making their way into mine.

My father died when I was eighteen years old, three years ago on July 30th. It still seems like a foreign concept to me. People have said that they've seen me grow with dealing with it and that is true to a degree, but the other truth is that I've done a great job of covering how I really feel. As a newly elected minister in training, I never really got a chance to do the whole mad at God, lock myself away from civilization and refuse to get out of the bed thing. I had to immediately display grace and strength and be joyous that my father was in the bosom of the Lord as a believer. But looking back, that stifled my grieving process. I didn't realize that I could still love God with the all of me and love the all of who my father was to me as well; after all, God gave him to me. Now, three years later, I struggle with crying and mourning because I don't even know what it truly looks like or feels like. In one of the happiest weeks of my life, facing one of my biggest accomplishments, one of my biggest motivators and supports isn't here to celebrate with me. Yea, I get the "he's looking down on me" but I want him to be looking face to face WITH me. How do I both celebrate the joy of walking across the stage while realizing that it's happening without my dad in the audience? To be honest, there's a little twinge of guilt because I want to be beaming with pride but.....

Then, there's the other pieces of puzzle. My boyfriend experienced a loss in his family. He is fresh in a grieving process, as is his family and naturally, he's sad. But herein lies the dichotomy that is death, even past just the concept of it. The effects of death are far-reaching. Here, I want and should be there for my boyfriend but I want and should be there for me and my special day too. How do I balance? I feel awkward and even a tad guilty being happy around him as he mourns, but I then feel guilty not being happy because I deserve to; all because of death.

For me, death has just been a thief. I'm sure over time, I'll see it as a blessing in all parts of me, but for now, everything in me doesn't have that viewpoint. I want to cry but I don't want to cry, I want to lock myself away but then I want to be around others. I want to heal but then it hurts too bad. Deep down inside I know I'll get it one day; until then, I'll deal as it comes. One day, I'll be able to tell my story and be okay with how it all turned out.

Dad, this week is for you.

It Was Never Physical....

Growing up, I never classified my neighborhood as the "hood". Up until high school, I believed I lived in a respectable middle class community, with respectable middle class adults and respectable middle class children. I thought it was a far cry from what I knew to be the "projects--a tell-tale sign of the "hood", with its tall buildings with the scent of urine and poverty. I thought I was a bit better than that. But, as I got older, I realized the hood was never really about buildings; it was a mental state of being. Someone could grow up never living with my "tell-tale signs" and still consider themselves as growing up in the hood--and suddenly, I was watching it happen. Respectable middle class children were suddenly gang bangers, drug dealers and muderers. How could this happen in my respectable middle class community? How could I suddenly start barely missing bullets on my front porch? How could I begin to hear stories of those I laughed with be the ones who were hunting for blood? How could I begin to get mail with return addresses of prisons? How? Because, the "hood" became a mindset. All of a sudden, it was okay to turn homes into drug businesses, and streets into territories. While I was busy thinking war only happened in the projects, I was faced with the reality that armed forces lived doors down from me. But all of this angered me, and it still does to this day, almost ten years later. It angers me that the same ones that watched me grow up, from a little baby girl, to old enough to get "hollered at", were killing one another. It angered me that life no longer was viewed as sacred, but rather a trophy or pat on the back once it was taken. It angered me that the possibility of hearing that my brothers were either in jail or dead increased greatly. Most of all, it angered me that a mental "hood" was created where no physical "hood" lied--we did it to ourselves. We created the space where cops had to patrol and where body bags began to line up. We created the fear. We started the war. And now, the war continues. The sad part? It won't end. Not until every one is missing, in jail or dead and even then, the seeds of the "soldiers" will probably continue the disgrace of a legacy. Hopefully, a day will come where peace is a reality. Until then, RIP to the fallen soldiers of the mental war....