I’ve always attended church and been part of a religious fellowship as far back as I can remember. This activity has always been who I am and what I do; it seemed encoded in my DNA. Placed there in my formative years by the Matriarchs of the small villages I’d lived in Jamaica. Therefore, wherever my butterfly spirit takes me over the years, near or far, one of the first things I’d search for was a church. One reflects the values and teachings I have grown to admire and love.
Not just one that was regurgitating the scriptures or spewing out contradictory interpretations of the Holy Bible, but rather one that embodies and exemplifies the word of God. A God of Love, the God of mercy, an all empowering God that I’ve grown to know and love!
The onset of this spiritual journey had begun in those early years when life had a different meaning, and the recesses of my mind were pliable as the tender bark of a tree. God’s words recited, echoing the rhythmic sounds of praise during worship, were hypnotic. During those moments of what was termed deliverance sermons, impulses arouse, pulling me into its very core.
Intensely, I recalled being swept away into those moments of worship on several occasions. It was such an emotional high, transforming me into total wellness with peace, culminating in a spiritual awareness achieved within the unset of time. Feelings of being fully alive and the source being God became transformational. A spiritual realm in the flesh that makes one feel almost invincible being in the shadows of God, where there is security.
As a result, grounded in my belief, no matter whatever state in life I may be in, I know I’m always in His face even when it’s not in full compliance with God’s words. Hence, I’ve tried living my life following my belief system. Doing unto others as I want to have done to me, this golden rule is forever my quest, and honoring Him is always my goal!
One little church in Jamaica has forever left an indelible mark on me. Its name has since escaped me, but its Heart remains with me for always. Its structure was simply four posts riveted in the ground, covered on top by discarded aluminum sidings, then coconut and palm tree branches were for roofing. There weren’t any sidings, no walls; this was truly a “Church” without Walls. The pews were benches made from trunks of trees. There were no protections from outside elements. Whenever it rained, if you had a bar of soap, you could easily have taken a shower. And if there were a breeze when it rained, you’d surely be drenched. It was what one would refer to as ‘bare to the bones,’ but God was present at every service; you felt it and saw it in the people, and they knew it because they came from all over.
I coined it: “His Mercy Shack” because God was there, and the many miracles I witnessed nestled within a place some would view as “Hell’s Kitchen” or otherwise “The bowels of poverty,” this didn’t hinder His presence; He was there. It was that little shack for a church alongside a gully embankment that touched my life most profoundly. That little “Mercy Shack” was about a few hundred feet from the edge of the gully embankment. To get there, one had to skillfully navigate their way alongside its treacherous barrier so as not to fall in. The gully would flood everything in its path whenever it rained, including the church. The debris that washed down into the ravine would cause it to become clogged, overflowing its embankment.
The church was surrounded mostly by shanty shacks. It was as if God placed this place of miracles and hoped into one of life’s cracks. How I found out about this place was designed by God. A family friend took me there when I was ill. I’d been suffering from fainting spells and terrible headaches. I would go there without my mother’s knowledge. If she knew, she would not have allowed me to go. There was perceived as being dangerous, and it was. However, it took me one visit, and I became hooked enough to risk going there. I frequently visited the church without my mother’s knowledge, sneaking away at every chance there were services. Rev. Watt, no relations of mine, was on fire for God. She preached the word of God with fire in her belly. Her lifestyle exemplified the same. She took me under her wings and began pouring into me the love of God.
She had kept a large clay jar by the church’s entrance, facing the east. I believed it was because of where the sun rises, and she always wanted to be in alignment with the things of God. In the clay jar, she would catch water from the faucet of a nearby standpipe (indoor plumbing wasn’t available in that neighborhood at that time.) I would help her, at times, fill the jar. After filling the jar, it’s was given to the congregants to drink who were ill or had signs of ailments. My God! It worked every time. I remember a woman being given water in a glass bottle as medicine to take home. Initially, she became amused by Pastor’s action and voiced her amusement. Then, to the astonishment of all watching, the bottle broke in the woman’s hand while she was fussing. So there ended every speculation and doubting the power of prayers and the power of God.
One of the things I have taken away from that experience is “God is real, and He is everywhere.” What He deals with, with all of us, is, it is our Heart! Even within the chaos of life, we are always in His presence, and He is in ours. “All is deserving of experiencing His Mercy, but faith is the activator. God knows many of us are in that place right now, where we need to hear from Him personally, but believing creates the difference.
His intent for our lives is His best! I know this to be true because my presence here is a testimony of God’s goodness and mercies.