Isioma,

You come gliding through this Saint Louis blues, on a cold Sunday morning, frigid and clear.

You come walking through icy paths patiently gliding through forests deep as your walk fearlessly to the unknown.

You come tested by fire like gold and silver and all precious jewel formed by fire.

You come leaning not on your own understanding but listening to the voice in the desert.

You come on the shoulders of ancestors, unbroken, unknown, but impossible to ignore.

You come with birds flying from as far as Onicha, with tidings that will frame you, guide you as you follow the bird within.

You come with the gallop of horses, the jolt of chariots, with power, fierce and restless.

You come with words like wisdom, deep and like oceans and fresh like flowing streams.

You come not on your own, but with divine favor as pleasing as rain.

You come with grace as numberless as grains of sand, as fruitful as fields of grapes.

You come with these words in writing. Time is coming quickly and what you will be will come true.

You come knowing too that it may seem slow on coming. Yet you will wait for it, as it will certainly take place and not be delayed.

You come filled with awe and full of praise for what he will do.

Finally you come, despite everything, you come with the brightness of lighting, with a gleam strong enough to make the sun and moon stand still.

I saw this art by Tomi Anttila and I was moved to write the piece above. In 2022, I intend to keep coming back to light despite everything dark/cold around.

The plans for this year was light. I planned to walk through flames, to risk the fires that burn, even in the cold, just so I get to the forest of light within. That was the new year plan. In one week, I have been informed by the year that this one will be a rollercoaster. Sit tight and hang on. If last year tried to consume you, this year is coming, bright and burning. And it’s only the 8th day. I opened my door this morning. Let the cold air seep in. I was reminded in that instant to breathe in. Cool air. Breathe in. Even as things burn. Breathe out. As smoke rises. Keep breathing. The year will come for you. Try to burn you too. Cold air will seep in. You will feel like you are sinking. Floors will give away. Yet, breathe in. Push them all back. Close the door. Breathe out. You have noticed the air. Noticed the smoke, and the sinking floors. But still, turn around and smile. They will not understand this air you breathe in.

We are back in full work mode. I am tired already. I long for rest. Doing nothing for a while is truly healing for the soul. Something I never knew I needed until I was forced to not work. But since I returned this week, just seeing my inbox has been overwhelming. I decided to focus on what I can control. Focus on things and spaces that bring joy. I am in the business of surrounding myself with joy and all the things likely to restore my soul. I came across a retreat for ambitious mothers. I am literally one in the making. I am signing up too. Something about a courageous perseverance, meaningful dialogue, storytelling and restorative care has me screaming sign me up. If you can, come along to this. It just may be the rest your soul needs in 2022. It’s the one I know I need and I am going for the courage and perseverance plus storytelling of course. Sign up here: https://www.iamsummit.org

I want to be that no ordinary kind of woman that meets herself every time through words. To remind her, that because of words, we can survive, live, love, pray, as we escape the unthinkable. These are cold days, but words can lead out to our breakout as we learn what life is. So if I am to live up to my middle name, if I am to bask in the glory of what it means to be named Isioma, then I am prepared to discover all that I am through words. I am prepared to meet myself over and over again, ringing like a bell, of how I survived and survived, because words came and I let them move me, seduce me, transform me, and illuminate all that I am becoming.

It’s our world anyways and we can write till we reach beyond ourselves. I want to write too, every time we meet ourselves. For this gift of writing, this gift of putting our thoughts into words, is a treasure. I am grateful that our cup continues to overflow. I am learning day by day that I live to write. A note, a phrase, a poem, or even a collection of things to keep if only for my sanity in a time of a pandemic. Today, I met myself. Today I went on a long conversation with the woman I am becoming. A storyteller that writes to live. We spoke of our love for words. Our love with putting down all our ideas into words that are pleasing to our soul. We encouraged ourselves too. Like two birds nestling by a stream, we told ourselves that we are doing fine with every single moment we note all the words that come to mind.

I am pledging allegiance to this freedom to write our lives through words we put together. How rare to live a life in words for ourselves first, for our dreams, our love, our heart desires, our morning sunshine, our children as dark as night or for the one called to save us. And words, have been our savior, our Chizoba in a world full of despair for a pandemic that refuses to dissipate.

More than escape, writing is life and a way of being still with ourselves. For we know, he knows the plans for us. The earth may shake. Cities may crumble. But happy are those who tend to life through words. This dancing of the mind, this communion with oneself, is like bread. It continues to give me new strength. And through his words, we are living in the pleasure of discovering and uncovering the plans for ourselves everyday. Writing is like the sun and it continues to set my life everyday. Writing also continues to move me to a place of divine connection to the power working within me. That’s what myself and I concluded and we will continue to choose the path we take, choose to put them in words, all because we know of his love. All we ask is that you continue to breathe on us daily so we make new words in us again and again as we escape from this world again and again.

How do we approach the complexities of ourselves fearlessly? How do we do it whether as a mother, a writer, a wife, a sister or a friend, fearlessly? How do we uncover our untapped power fearlessly? How do we accept all our tensions or even our chaos fearlessly? Yet still somehow, unleash our ambitions fearlessly?

To become fearless, to become an ambitious her, I marvel at the thought of somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, bathes her four kids for the night, gives them their vitamins, reads books that tickles their noses, and kisses their heads goodnight, not before they tell stories by moonlight or pray for guardian angels through the night. Then she darts around the house, checking for locked doors, and alarm locks, washes the night dishes and sweeps the floor one more time. Then she makes a cup of tea, lemon ginger with a twist of lemon for her insides. She turns of the lights and snuggles, beneath a grey fuzzy blanket, not before she picks up her phone to write this note, of how somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, lived wild dreams of herself, gliding through paths untrodden fearlessly. This dream, she always knew, would come through one day. And today is that day. Welcome to my most ambitious year.

My husband painted this painting yesterday, he called it gods must be crazy, called it our craziness for an ambitious year. I agree.

Dear New Year,

What to make of thee, from all who seek your new? This time, our hunger grows day by day. For paths our feet are prepared to walk through. This rich promise for new the morning sun will not betray.

To begin again with repeating this cycle with you. To bask in your glory like morning dew across leaves at the bottom of trees. To marvel at the debut of a life in light, in view. Is to begin with grace, like the simple elegance of a daffodil.

So I close with a prayer old, yet full of renewed blessings. That when the fullness of time comes. That you will bless us and keep us. That you will shine upon us and be gracious to us. That you will be kind and give all who seek you peace, this new year of yearning. This new year of being in light. Amen.

Happy New Year to all of you and may your 2022 be full of God’s blessings. Amen.

I’ll like to bear witness to 2021. To remain rooted in some way. To all the life we endured. And remind you all to note that we are still here. This year brought me to my knees. Made me wail in ways that I never knew existed. It wasn’t just the death it brought, though that was intense and difficult. It was mostly the pain, and the uncertainty that accompanied periods of pain mixed with despair. But I’m still here. We were battered. We were bruised. We cried out from the depths of our hearts for things completely out of our control. We prayed. I remember screaming out the top of my lungs that what God cannot do does not exist. Yet, there were things or prayers that went unanswered. Times that made me question whether he existed. Surely when his children cry out to him from the depths of their sorrow, he would come to their aid. His own words makes it’s known that whoever and I mean whoever goes to him for safety would say he is our God. We did. We all took turns and went and yes he did his part to keep us and protect us. And though a thousand fell dead around us, one of them was more than enough to make us question whether he remembered us. But, we are still here. And so as I look back on the year that brought so much pain mixed with so much uncertainty coupled with a never ending desire to do more with my time on earth, I am reminded by the words of Langston Hughes paraphrased for me and my family today that, “We are still here.” Langston Hughes and his poetry have been a great source of comfort to me as we close out this year. Of course the word of God is forever at my side, but reading something as eloquent as still being here, made me realize that all of the pain, all of the uncertainty, even all of the struggle with this past year was worth it, because we are still here. So in closing out this chapter, this year, let me also remind you that you are still here and to me that’s more than enough.

You are still here. Still here. You may have struggled. Your lives may have trembled. Beneath waves that crushed. But, you are still here. Still here. You may have been exhausted. The pandemic keeps soaring. Numbers keep rising. Heaviness and burnout on your shoulders. But you are still here. Still here. You may have dreamed dreams. Flung your arms wide as you dreamed dreams that disappeared in the morning. But you are still here. Still here. You may have failed. Your toils may have been excruciating. With a failure that endlessly echo. But you are still here. Still here. You may have sown a seed. On grounds that did not sprout. All you labor may seem useless but you are still here. Still here. You may have been heartbroken. Love may have given up on you. All it’s patience, faith and hope may have failed you. But you are still here. Still here. You may have stopped laughing. You may have passed through life like shadows across the earth with no joy. But you are still here. Still here. You may have grieved. The death of a child, a partner, a loved one. Life in disarray for an end that came too soon, too painful to put to words. But despite this, you are still here. Still here. You may have fallen into despair. Fallen into the darkest and deepest pit. That you were close to death. Yet, you are still here. Still here. You may have even died. All your strength may have been gone. That you felt abandoned like the dead lying in their graves. I want you to know that you are still here. You are and it matters to me. That you keep knowing that you are still here. And for so many others, for you, the light that came to you. This light may have furiously knocked. Furiously insisted to remain. Furiously lighting up everything. Even in the midst of all the darkness around. Thank you for opening the door. Thank you for carrying your light as you showed us all how to still be here despite all the life you endured. Thank you for still being here. And I pray that 2022 will be more than you hoped for. May blessings be with you and may you find success in all you do.

Langston Hughes has a poem entitled ‘I Too.’ It’s based on Walt Whitman’s classic ‘I Hear America Singing.’ For some reason, I saw the poem today while sifting through my Langston books. It got me wondering, and with all we have endured this year in 2021, just how would America sing? For sure, she would sing of being sick. Omicron has me exhausted. I’m tired and would like to really see the end of the tunnel with this pandemic. I also realize we have a long way to go if we continue along this path of not vaccinating the world. Don’t get me started on those including children under 5 that are not vaccinated. I fear for my kids under 5. Then there are the violence, a 14 year old killed while shopping with her mother, or kids killed at school for doing what they are supposed to be doing, going to school. Then there is poverty. My family and I spent Christmas eve taking care of homeless people in Saint Louis and let’s just say I am overwhelmed. Why can’t we get to the bottom of homelessness or poverty in general? I share all this to say that if Walt or Langston were to write their poem today, for sure, they would both be on track with where we are as a country, but also we would be sicker, more violent, and definitely poor. Hence my take below.

By Langston Hughes

We too sing America. We are your new generation. A sick, violent, and poor generation singing as we await 2022. We sing of a pandemic, which turned the world upside two years ago, and continues along its path. The healthcare worker sings of burnout and exhaustion. The parents sing of juggling multiple stressors at work and home. The teenager sings of being in a constant state of flux, as they cope with the pandemic. The children sing of a childhood gone in disarray as the pandemic surges on. While the elders sing of isolation as they continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic. As if that’s not enough, we too live in an America where violence is more common than a Sunday rest. Your children, sing of the violence they see in their schools with classmates choosing bullets rather than books. Your communities sing too of violence on their streets, with protesters insisting that Black Lives Matter and they do. Your Congress sings of violence too, with an angry mob that would rather desecrate its halls that choose your democracy. While those we elect sing in words that would rather tear us down than build up we the people by the people. As if that’s still not enough, we live in America where one-third of your children are poor. Your families sing of not getting enough to eat with food insecurities and not getting enough to drink with water insecurities. Your poor households sing of bearing the brunt of rising prices. Your public sings of lacking systems, health, education, governments, that continue to fail to put them first. While your citizens sing of not having homes for your children. Besides, nothing seems to be transforming all we still know about America. That this too is a land that still fails to take a stand for all forms of racism, for immigrants, for rural life, for your children, who continue to sing of being sick, continue to be weary of the rampant state of violence, continue to remain poor, despite being born on fruited plains.

I pray 2022 has us singing a different note.

I have always loved the beatitudes. Something about being blessed keeps me hopeful and you Archbishop Tutu were the hope so many people relied on. This evening prayer rolls out of my mind with ease because you lived a life like Jesus prayed in the beatitudes. You were indeed blessed, and truly happy, rejecting evil, and living for peace. You were indeed a peacemaker, one who found joy in dire times, studying it day and night, and like a tree planted by a stream, your life was fruitful till the end with leaves that will never dry up. Your love for the poor will lead you home to your maker. In the many ways your helped the poor during your life on earth so shall you be helped as your sun sets. I pray that the lord will protect and preserve all that you loved dearly. That they will find comfort even with your passing. The Lord himself will show his constant love to your family and if they ever seek your face, may they never forget that blessed are the peacemakers like Archbishop. Rejoice for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We rejoice for now you are with your maker and may you continue to rest in his bosom. Amen.