February 22, 2017
“And the People Could Fly,” a short story written by Virginia Hamilton, inspired our February worship series. The story invites one to shift their thinking about Africans who were enslaved, for the story boldly asserts that they were oppressed and brutalized—however, this is not who they were. They weren’t “slaves.” They were enslaved, and the distinction is huge. Enslavement was simply their condition. The faithful posture is to recognize that they were people born with the ability to fly.
Their wings weren’t taken or destroyed by their oppressors. Instead, the Africans shed them because of the heavy and painful burden of enslavement. Many times, the essence of who we are is assaulted, but can never be destroyed. As an act of self-love and agency, they lightened their load so they could survive.
Ultimately, when words of magic were spoken, those who could fly did. When inspired, and reminded that freedom was a possibility, they took flight over all circumstances that existed to tether them. They flew away home.
All we need is a gentle and loving reminder that one is more than how one is treated. The story asks us to shift our perception about ourselves and what God requires of us.
Many circumstances threaten to create a false myth that we cannot fly. Today’s momentum of challenges certainly can assault our high resolve. However, God creates in our souls the memory we can be more and do more. There is a place in us that goes high when others go low, a desire that needs our hearts to take to the air, even with great mourning in them.
As we complete our series this Sunday with the story of Onesimus from the epistle Philemon, may we be reminded that God calls each of us to take note of the other and to willingly use our ability and resources to transform the lives of others. May we say the magic words of hope, joy, courage, truth and justice that awaken another’s spirit – and speak these words until they fly. Take to the air! – Rev. Kelle Brown