Personal Essay : A Message From Our Ancestors

 A Message From Our Ancestors

Do Not Fear

By: Shimira Cole | | Follow: IG and TW

I took a DEEP BREATH as I lie back into the driver’s seat. My sweaty palms held the steering wheel, my mouth controlled my breathing, and my eyes, shut, controlled my thoughts. “Everything will be okay,” I said to myself. I had no one to keep me calm and to redirect my attention away from being trapped in a tight space and in complete darkness. I must admit, as I got older, small places made me hot, sweaty, and panicky. My left eye opened and saw colorful soup suds smashed by the car wash’s yellow and blue side mitters. “Oh goodness, why me, Lord?” I said as knocking tapped the driver’s side window. “Ma’am! Our car wash is broken, and we’ll have it fixed in five minutes, please sit tight.” The voice soothed my soul. However, it was up to me to remain calm and to practice my breathing. I took a DEEP BREATH and then I remembered.

A few years ago, I traveled to Israel with my church. It was a learning spiritual trip where we toured places Jesus Christ visited throughout his ministry. I’m very spiritual, so I knew I would have my burning bush experience while traveling throughout God’s Holy Land.

So every day we visited different monuments, hiked up the hills and through the woods, and visited the museums but still no burning bush or a clap of thunder in sight. The trip was ending, and I accepted that I would not experience God in the Holy Land.

Israel Trip | Shimira ColeBut one day, my church group prepared to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. “Are you ready for this?” My best friend asked me. “Sure!” I took my flashlight out of my book bag and showed her my water shoes. Our tour guide gathered everyone’s attention. “Okay, whoever wants to travel above ground to the other side, go with Pastor Dan. The people who want to take the underground route, come with me.” A long line formed behind the tour guide and a few people stayed with Pastor Dan.

We followed the tour guide deep between the crest of the walls as she explained, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel was carved twenty-feet underneath the City of David in ancient times and it is a twenty-minute walk into the city.” We all stopped and gazed down the steps into the water canal. One by one, everyone went down.

The cold water came to my knees. The narrow walls touch my arms. My fingertips touched the ceiling—and I am a short girl—and the humidity stuck to my skin. However, most of all, there were no lights. No LED lights, no torch inside the tunnel to guide us but our flashlights.

I breathed DEEP BREATHS. Not because I was afraid of the dark but because I was afraid of being in small places without enough oxygen. The light from my flashlight only saw Nancy’s, the trip coordinator, back of the head, and Scott’s, who tailed the line, face.

I shouted, “I’m going back!” but Scott blocked me, and Nancy said, “Wait! This experience is amazing. Don’t back out now, you’ll regret it.”

“It’s too hot. Can we breathe all the way down here?” I asked as I fanned myself. Heat rushed to my head and sweat formed on my forehead. She held my hand and pulled me back into the dark water canal. “Of course we can.” And then she yelled to everyone in front. “Don’t stop. Keep moving!” - Discover Christian Gifts from the Holy Land

So I breathed a DEEP BREATH as we walked further into the black hole that became humid. The water rose to my stomach. The walls moved in closer. Nancy kept yelling, “Keep Moving!” and everyone yelled back, “We’re moving as fast as we can!” Apparently, they didn’t know I was behind Nancy zealously inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth reminding myself that I was breathing.

Ten minutes into the walk, Maurice, the elder in the group, sang Wade in the Water, to calm everyone’s nerves. Wade in the Water is an old Negro Spiritual song sung by slaves who waded in the water for days or weeks to escape captivity. Not only was the song soothing, but it also gave runaway slaves instructions to get off the trail where dogs may sniff their scent, and to Wade in the Water.

Israel Trip | Shimira ColeAs we waded in the water, I sang along and then tears formed. Maybe I wept because of the significances of the song and where I stood, but it screwed up my inhaling! My nose got stuffy, and I had to use my mouth to inhale and exhale. To not focus on suffocating to death underground, my hands rubbed the smooth bumpy walls, and I admired the ancient workmanship rather than the song.

Until it hit me. Nothing physical, but mental. Like an episode of That’s So Raven, I had a vision. I was actually pushed into a spiritual trance that I had never experienced before. I sat in a white room, and I immediately knew it was some type of mediation. An unknown man sat to the left of me and an elderly woman sat in front of me. I didn’t see the man’s face, but I knew it was Jesus. The elder woman wore a blue scarf, her wrinkled and shiny face stood out to me as if she worked outside all day.

I panicked, my head swished back and forth seeing nothing, but an ongoing white room. I coached my breathing. Meanwhile, the elder woman leaned in closer to view me. She opened her mouth to speak but then smiled instead. I could tell she wanted to say, “baby girl, everything will be all right,” but she was speechless. She eyed my frame, my features, my presence, and then finally, she caught my eyes with hers, and when she did, I knew deep inside my soul that she loved me, she was proud of me and admired me.

Scott nudged me to keep moving, and I mentally came back in the dark moist hole where everyone sang, Wade in the Water. I wept because I met an ancestor and because my inhale and exhale lost its rhythm.

Finally, we all saw the light at the end of the tunnel, everyone cheered, and I deeply understand what that saying means now. However, I wasn’t scared anymore of being in the narrow dark space. I felt silly and embarrassed that I didn’t appreciate every dirt, rock, and stone that ancient slaves put their blood, sweat, and tears in. The fear that I experienced underground is how my ancestor felt above ground every day for their whole lives.

My car moved drifted towards the exit as the car wash’s mitters slid off my car’s window. With both arms comfortably behind my head, while breathing regular, I thought about how that memory made me realize that I didn’t go to Israel to build a relationship with God (because I already had one).

God showed me something that I was missing. A deeper appreciation for my ancestors beyond the textbooks. The strength, the wholeness, and the fierceness they carried inside them lives inside me, and whenever I feel afraid of being in tight dark spaces, whether inside of my head or in a situation, I need to search for their strength which is faith, patience, and boldness that’s deep inside of me.

Do you believe our ancestors (slaves) had visions of their next generation (you and I)?

Messianic Gifts from Israel

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