Grab your glass. Take a sip. Savor the story.
Grab your glass. Take a sip. Savor the story.
Greetings, Souls of Love & Light!
>> Submitted for Narrative Inquiry <<
Refresher: (taken directly from Story Log #2)
“I was right. Correction. My spirit was right! As I continued to read, I learned that SAM was an acronym that represented Sun, Stars, And Moon. WOW!! Grandma communicated with nature!! She was told to rest so that she could receive the wisdom offered by the cosmos.”
Continued: “… I cried because I knew that Grandma was institutionalized at the Topeka State Hospital - an institution for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Then, I was angry because I felt that her ability to communicate with the sun, stars, and moon ultimately cost her her freedom.”
Story Log #3
It is 7:16pm on Sunday, September 12, 2021. The sun is radiating a mesmerizing burnt orange hue with a purplish pink aura. I squint to see the exact colors but it's impossible without running the risk of blinding myself. I’ll just remain grateful for the quick glimpses.
Within three minutes, the sun has now touched the tops of the tree in the distance. The silhouette of trees is a masterpiece within this peaceful moment, but why does it seem that time is moving exceptionally fast now? I’ve been out here for 45 minutes and the sun didn’t appear to move. It was bright, bold, and breathtaking. However, now, nearly half of the sun is playing peek-a-boo with me. But guess what Mr. Sun? I can still see you. Please don’t go away.
I feel robbed. The forecast said the sunset would not occur until 7:30pm. I still have eight minutes. If I “paid” for the whole show, I wanna see the whole show. Where are you going? Now, your whole body is behind the trees and all I can see is the glow of your beauty. Well, at least I can cast my eyes directly on you now. PLEASE Slow down. Please. I want to watch you. I want to take you all in. I couldn’t see you earlier because you were too bright. Now, you are nearly disappearing.
Wait! Why am I feeling sad? Why are my eyes getting warm? What is it about this particular moment that is so emotional for me? You are almost all gone. It is only 7:23 pm. I have seven more minutes. Please don’t go! Shit!! I am really crying now. Why are you leaving me!? You are now beneath the trees and it is just a tiny sliver that I see of you. You will be gone in 5...4…3…2 (I pause my typing to simply be in the moment and watch the sun of September 12th come to an end. Rest my dearest sun. You’ve performed your job well. You shined on us. You allowed us to shine. For you, we are grateful. Rest easy. So shall the will of the Universe be, I will see you in the morning. Ase.
Forty-eight minutes of recording boiled down to 47 seconds. The final seconds were the fastest. What can I learn from this? Do we live our lives in hyperlapse? Can there be a theory of counter-hyperlapsicity? Perhaps I need to start a movement to slow down and simply be? Perhaps observing nature becomes the main method of this movement. I JUST might be onto something.
# # #
In the above paragraph, I asked, “why am I crying?” That was a more rhetorical than actual question. I know why I cried. I cried because the observation of the sun was the same as the observation of life. If so ordered, we will rise every morning. If so ordered, we will have 12 hours, or longer, to share our shine. If so ordered, we will rest and engage in an extended period of restoration. However, there comes a time during the observation that time speeds up and the day, one’s life, is over.
I watched the sunset for my Mama on March 31, 2016. Actually, I even captured one of the final sunsets from her hospital room less than two weeks before she transitioned. I witnessed the eclipse of my Dad’s sun when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. I had never seen my Dad like that. He stayed in bed most of the day with his eyes closed while he was wide awake. He ate his meals at the table with his eyes closed. He even sat in his favorite recliner with his eyes closed while fully comprehending what was going on around him. (I didn’t capture an actual picture of him, but the mental picture can never be erased.)
In my last story log I wrote, “I am interested in writing about my relationship with nature and how this informs my walk with eco-spirituality. Thanks to our class on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, that is no longer the case. Your words made me ask, “What is my work REALLY about?”
Jeff, when you gave us the story about your interest in art classroom arrangements and how this interest quickly changed to social capital, I found myself diving deeper into my own interest. I still want to research nature as a site of learning and self-restoration, but I strongly feel that it becomes more about spaces to slow (observing nature - sunrises, sunsets, gardening, etc.) as well as spaces to become and grow (gardening).
My narrative research genre approach will blend Bildungsroman and digital storytelling as I ask Mother Earth to inform my becoming - my becoming an artist. In the margins of page 12, I responded with hearts and stars after reading that,”Bildung is concerned with nurturing or fostering the self to become somebody, which goes beyond the simple acquisition of knowledge and skills (Biesta, 2002).
I am ‘becoming’ an artist. Or, should I say, I am allowing myself to call myself an artist. And, this ‘becoming’ is happening as my sun sits halfway in the sky and my Dad’s sun is closer to setting. My work needs to nurture my self while honoring my Dad in a way that allows Mother Earth to be our teacher.
>>Submitted for Social Foundations <<
Passages to inform the revision:
As I sit here reflecting on what transpired during the Artists’ Talk at Elsewhere (READ Portfolio Piece), I am comforted by Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake. The following passages form the foundation of my revision:
The day before, I read Sharpe and learned about the work of sitting. Although Sharpe referenced sitting (together) in the “pain and sorrow of death,” I took that passage literally and thought about what it meant to sit with someone. To be present. To be inclusive.
On the night of the 13th, I found myself sitting with people and still feeling alone. There was a singles, conversational ping pong match that dominated the space. Additionally, I, as the oldest person at the table, just could not connect with some of the references. I have kids that are nearly the ages of those around the table.
While walking back to the residency, I knew something had shifted. I knew that my scholar identity had shifted to address feelings of isolation among Black womxn and how sitting (together) can represent a form of wake work. I felt my artist identity being birthed. And I felt that this new awakening and subsequent revision would cost me an extra semester in the PhD program at Florida State University.
Even with all of that occurring, the exposure to Sharpe is becoming instrumental to my identities. I would go as far as to say that it is even instrumental to my spiritual development.
*rationale listed above
>>Submitted for Social Foundations: Reading Response<<
It is 12:17pm on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. As I sit to write this response, I am finding myself still hyped from the group discussion of hegemony* and religion. Never did I think that I would willingly enter spaces of conversation that address such “hush hush” subjects like religion. But here I am. I’m holding my own. I’m listening with an open ear and heart. I am not just speaking my truth, I am walking in my truth: the truth of eco-spirituality.
*Before we proceed, hegemony is a word that I would NEVVVA use in my everyday discussions. Nevva Evvva. My working definition of the word refers to a power structure. A domination of one group/practice over another. A system of power. If you need more than that, you can click here.
If you’ve read my other work, you already know a little bit about how I arrived at this space of spirituality versus religion. As a quick recap:
>Submitted for Story Log #2 in Narrative Inquiry<
During the Fall of 2020, I was asked to write a subjectivities statement in my arts-based research class with Dr. Sara Scott Shields at Florida State University. This was the first time I was ever asked to clarify who I was in relation to what I was studying. It was rather exciting to figure out my own why. Through this assignment, I was led to open my family bibles to find inspiration that supported my divorce from the dominant Black Baptist narrative.
On that day, I opened my personal bible and the pages were crisp. Sad to say, my bible did not get much mileage. I opened my Mama’s bibles and saw more engagement but not a lot. The first bible had a McDonald’s Monopoly game piece in it; I think we won some fries. I wonder if there was an expiration date on it? Nuthin’ better than some good ole hot fries and cold Dr. Pepper. In her second bible, there were dog-eared pages and highlighting. Now that I had a chance to explore our bibles, the significantly smaller of the four, it was time to open the master bible. The family bible. The big ole coffee table type bible that belonged to Grandma. What I found on the first page would be the frequency that would carry me into a true and grounded space of eco-spirituality while granting me permission to release my inherited religion.
How did I get here? (Revisiting and refining Story Log 1)
On April 16, 1973, 607 days before I was born, Grandma wrote the following words on the inside cover of her bible, “Never be afraid of trees. We will never leave you.” In another paragraph she wrote, “Rest. Uncle SAM will tell you more.” I do not know all my family members but I never remember hearing of an Uncle SAM. With black folks and our quickness to “adopt” people, Uncle SAM could have been a blood OR bond relative. Who knew? But there was something in her writing that made me wonder if her reference to this uncle was not a reference to a person at all. My spirit felt that there was more of a link between my use of the term Mother to respect Earth, a term that definitely did not reflect the person who gave birth to me, and her use of Uncle to respect SAM.
I was right. Correction. My spirit was right! As I continued to read, I learned that SAM was an acronym that represented Sun, Stars, And Moon. WOW!! Grandma communicated with nature!! She was told to rest so that she could receive the wisdom offered by the cosmos. I was absolutely floored to learn of her connection to eco-spirituality because all I ever knew was that she was a super devout Christian. Grandma documented each time she finished a chapter and literally knew her bible inside and out. But that wasn’t all she knew; there was another side to Grandma that I never knew and no one ever talked about.
Reading Grandma’s words put me in a very emotional state. It made me sad to think that it took over two decades to open my family bible. I was disappointed in myself for not keeping Grandma in my immediate memories. I cried because I knew that Grandma was institutionalized at the Topeka State Hospital - an institution for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Then, I was angry because I felt that her ability to communicate with the sun, stars, and moon ultimately cost her her freedom.
I am interested in writing about my relationship with nature and how this informs my walk with eco-spirituality. I know that Mother Earth is here to teach and I am ready to be her student. I am ready to absorb her wisdom. I am excited by the opportunity to share this wisdom with others, especially Black womxn. My research question is, “How is nature experienced as a site of learning and self-restoration among Black womxn?”
My eco-autoethnography involves trees, plants, bodies of water, flying and crawling spirits, and any other storyteller of nature.
This narrative inquiry is important because it serves as a significant space of permission. It gives permission to those looking for a different form of spiritual engagement, especially Black people looking for an alternative, or even supplement, to the dominant Black Baptist narrative. It grants permission for relationship building with the more-than-human kind. It creates a space of acceptance for a tribe of individuals who once thought they were alone or even questioned their sanity. Most importantly, my eco-autoethnography honors a freedom that was denied my Grandmother.
https://www.wibw.com/video/2021/04/30/chris-omni-tedx/ 3:22 - 4:15
Chris Omni, MPH