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Life

Thou Art Wonderful, Mother

Andréana Lefton | Dec 17, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Andréana Lefton | Dec 17, 2016

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

I discovered that the chain of being was set in motion by Her footfalls… I was bewildered by the subtleties and wonders of Her creation… – Baha’u’llah, Tablet of the Maiden, provisional translation.

Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette

Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette

Over 300 souls gather beneath my feet. I can’t see them, can’t even hear them. But I know they are there, in a room called Foundation Hall, underneath the Baha’i House of Worship near Chicago, also known to the Baha’is as “the Mother Temple of the West.”

So much energy is being generated by the breath and pulse of these people, coming from all over Chicago and the Midwest. The color of their faces is bronze-ebony-cream-gold. The room is rich and shimmering.

They are here to learn about racism and justice, about the oneness at the heart-center of all our divisions. Joy DeGruy has come to educate us about slave trauma, pain, and memory passed down the generations—to us.

I leave the gathering early, to circle the gardens and pray. I had to step outside, to breathe and reconnect with the earth, to pray and offer praise that healing is happening, underground, where people of all races sit together, listening to a woman speak.

This is how Joy began:

“Our first known foremother is Lucy. Scientists named her Lucy. But her own people call her Dinquinesh, which means Thou Art Wonderful.”

I gasped. My hands balled into fists. Eyes shut. Heart hammering.

How can this be? How can this BE?

How can Joy be speaking of Lucy, the Australopithecus woman unearthed in Ethiopia in the 1970s?

You see, when my mother was pregnant with me, she had a dream.

Dinquinesh-Lucy, Grandmother to us all, came to her, and took her on a journey through space and time…

Don’t be afraid, daughter,

I won’t hurt you.

I want to show you

the beauty,

the blood you come from.

In her dream Lucy flew my mother back in time, to the caves, where women cradled their infants, inventing language, singing the first lullabies. These cave-mothers shielded their children from hot fires and angry men. They crouched in dark corners, watchful, vigilant.

Lucy flew my mother over fields and pastures. They saw women, bent low, babies on their backs or nestled in the earth, for protection.

They flew over villages, the first cities. They watched women cooking, washing. Women guarding the hearth gods and the fires of great temples.

They witnessed women bleeding, birthing; women burned at the stake for being different; women bruised by the weight of rage.

They looked in at windows, where women lay sleepless, next to their husbands. In attics and basements, women dipped brushes into paint, creating new universes of color and sight.

After flying through the whole, hidden history of womankind, Lucy turned to my mother and handed the torch to her:

Take this bone

from my body.

Place it

in your child’s

body.

Learn this song

from my mother.

Breathe it

into your child’s

soul.

My mother passed away in 2010. Six years later, I am standing within her footsteps.

A week after Joy comes to the Temple and reminds me of my mother’s dream, I bump into Jerry, a stranger (to me) who remembers my mother – from a brief, chance encounter 41 years ago.

Jerry tells me that my mother visited the House of Worship in 1975, a year after she became a Baha’i in Australia.

She was a guide here for three days. She circled these gardens, she prayed in this Temple – years before I was born. I did not know this. She never told me. Until now.

We exist in an infinite spiral of spiritual and mitochondrial DNA. These strands of code – these threads of soul – pass, continuously, from mother to child, mother to child.

Within this code are letters we have barely begun to read, messages from the ancient past to the dawning future:

This is a letter from God… unto God, the Almighty, the Best Beloved. – The Bab

Nature has written the entire language of life using just four chemical letters: G, C, A and T. Did our genetic code settle on these four nucleotides for a reason?Emily Singer

What do these letters mean?

If we could read the Book of Life and understand our deepest secrets, what would they tell us?

What pain do we hold, from long ago?

What grandeur did our ancestors drink in, standing alone, helpless, under the stars?

This is the songline,

my mother whispers.

This is the traceless path

of the holy ones,

the forgotten ones,

the ones who sing

to the dead at night

when no one is listening.

Stop killing yourself,

I hear you whisper.

Stop pretending you are dead

and start remembering.

What? I want to shout. What must I remember? What have we forgotten through millennia of internal and imposed violence? How can I recall, call upon, call aloud to That?

Child,

stop fighting

and start accepting:

You are opal, amber, ochre.

You are forest, desert, sea.

What I see in you

is unity.

What I see in you

is

you.

Outside, in the gardens, the Temple is a white mountain against blue-black skies.

I walk up the steps to the sanctuary. Inside the eye of the dome is a Name – in Arabic it reads Glorified is God, the Most Glorious.

A river flows from the dome, into the crown of my head, and out, through the soles of my feet.

Prayer flows through the floor tiles and down, onto the heads and shoulders of 300 souls gathered below.

I am alone and not-alone.

People are here, sitting in a room beneath me, though I cannot see them. Real people, human lives.

Ancestors, foremothers, you are here too, though I cannot see you.

Then, I remember what I once told my mother, when she was ill: “I was driving home today – and I saw your face everywhere. In the trees, in the flowers and sky. Just as I’m losing you, I find you everywhere.”

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Comments

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  • Andrew B Lefton
    Dec 19, 2016
    -
    ...This is merely a side note to my earlier comment, that the restrictions on the number of characters we can use on this blog limits us to. Here are my added comments:
    (Side note: I used the word 'begin' twice in the earlier post. The first time I wrote it, it came out "being", an anagram of "begin". Strange the amalgam of these two words, and how they are related in structure and in meaning. Hmmm, perhaps the germ of an essay resides here?)
  • Andrew B Lefton
    Dec 19, 2016
    -
    I read today your lovely mediation on Lucy, Dr. Joy, your Mother and the spiritual strand that ties you all together, millennia upon millennia. I find that words, such as these, help me, and those close to me, acquire a means by which we/I can begin to emerge from the cacophony that surrounds us almost constantly (TV, Radio, Voices, Advertising, Politics (oh yes, let's not forget Politics), and all the rest of societal noise we are immersed within.) Thank you for your kind and thoughtful musings that provide a renewed perspective on what True Life represents, and how we ...can begin to move increasingly towards it.
    Read more...
    • Dec 21, 2016
      -
      Dear soul, I am so thankful for these reflective and heartful words. I am so thankful for my parents! Love, A.
  • James Williams
    Dec 19, 2016
    -
    So this is where Justice has been hiding? All along, mitochondrial DNA has been its haven, its refuge on earth. It has symbolized both the suffering and the patience of God. And its sweetness. Please reveal more.
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      Dear James, I am so touched & inspired by your words. In a few lines, you have captured what I have long felt. Your words are already seeding other reflections - all my thanks!
  • Dec 18, 2016
    -
    I really enjoyed reading this. Not only a reminder of my friend in youth, Joy, but also a lyrical musing on the matriarchal line through body and spirit. Thank you for sharing! Keep writing!
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      Deep gratitude for reading & responding so lovingly Cora! Happy it spark memories and musings of your own. Blessings, A.
  • Pamela Hollows
    Dec 17, 2016
    -
    Thank you for connecting my heart to our shared stories.
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      It is an honor and gift to be connected Pamela, thank you.
  • Dec 17, 2016
    -
    How stunningly beautiful. How gloriously moving. A vision, many visions, painted with words. In a few short paragraphs you have shown us our connection to one another , our ancient and priceless connection.
    Thank you......
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      Dear Candyce, I love your comment. It brings me much joy that something deep inside my heart is appreciated with such kindness and generosity. Truly, A.
  • Dec 17, 2016
    -
    I too see my mother everywhere and thank her for the unique gifts she has given me that allowed me to recognize the Lord of the Age. Without her love and sacrifices it could never have happened, that I know. Thank you for such a heart moving article.
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      Dear Patricia, I deeply connect with your words. And I send prayers and light to you and your mother. With gratitude, A.
  • Kewan Falahi Firouzi
    Dec 17, 2016
    -
    Glorious vision, thanks for sharing such a personal story with such profound insight.
    • Dec 19, 2016
      -
      And I am profoundly thankful for such amazing responses and readers! Thank you Kewan!
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