Be The Change :: Practice The Rituals Your Grandmothers Performed
One of the healing lessons this pandemic is teaching me is the value of holding on to sacred traditions. I have character building memories that helped my grandmothers to be strong, such as the Watchnight Ceremony. All people of color in the traditional Union States come together in sacred places to celebrate the historical event that ended the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation. Living on land that is soaked with so much blood, pain and suffering, Watchnight is a collective healing ceremony. Growing up we did Watchnight at Mount Zion.
On December 31, 1862, during the Civil War, all people of color both freeborn and enslaved gathered at a church, under a pine lodge, or on any sacred spot. At the same time, plantation slaves knelt, stood and prayed. The Big Event! President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation into law legally recognizing that the Civil War was fought over slavery.
So, I will gather as one representing many. I will sing the songs we sang, dance the prayers we prayed. I will, with honor and reverence practice the ritual we performed. “Five minutes before midnight, I will kneel down and pray to God to walk with me and be my friend as I pass from yesterday into tomorrow. I will repeat the words spoken in a repeated call and response chant:”
Look where God has brought us,
Look how far we’ve come,
We’re not what we ought to be,
We’re not what we used to be.
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you, Jesus!
Thank you, Holy Ghost!
For what you’ve done for us.