When the Divine makes itself known: Or how going to church and a near death experience hours later feel related.

I was so moved by the choir that  I cried. After one of the hymns Sam stood up and said; “Amen” and “Thank you, Jesus.” Marcel was a raisin tossing pew climbing menace. This is the brief version of our first encounter with the AME Zion church yesterday.

And, aside from the one woman who moved when Marcel’s aforementioned shenanigans were too much for her, we felt welcomed, and unimportant in a good way.  Meaning, I did not feel as if we stood out at all.  That crazy ego centric fear  kept me home for months. There were many families that looked like ours in some way. The building was small, and packed. The musicians included a drummer and a bass guitarist.  The choir leader’s voice pierced through me like beam of epiphanous joy. I was shaking it all  despite myself.  Sam held his hands up in the air and sang along. Marcel put his hands on his ears and said; “too loud.”

When I asked Sam on the way home what he thought about it, he said; “Everyone looked like us, and the man standing up high was a grown up brown like me man.” I nodded my head. Then he asked me what I liked. I said I liked how much joy people expressed about their faith. He said; “You mean when all the women were kind of yelling but not really?” I nodded my head again.

I’ve been warned by some that I may not agree with everything I hear coming from the pulpit. That is honestly not my concern at the moment. ( I translate the literal into metaphor when I need to.) What a predominantly black church has to offer my family is community, belonging, identity nurturing and modeling, and spiritual education period. And those are just the things I am imagining. Who knows what is really in store for us there, or somewhere like it.

I texted his birth mom that night to tell her about church.  (She has never said as much, but I am certain that Sammy’s religious education is very important to her. She described herself as a religious woman during her interview for her adoption plan. My lack of religious practice can not have been a pull in my direction. ) I commented on how ministerial Sam looked, and asked her if there were ministers in the family.

Duh, she wrote back. My father.   I can not tell you how clear that was today. I can imagine him at his birth grandfather’s church some Sunday a few years from now. Her father has recently asked to have pictures of him and his wife sent to Sam too. I was actually picturing him as I gazed at Sam, standing up attentive, taking it all in. I see Sam so much in her, and him. I imagine he might appreciate Sam’s appearance in his church some day. Marcel has a ways to go…


It’s Monday morning. Marcel just woke up, and I haven’t had a chance to tell you about the car accident that unfolded all around my family on a sidewalk yesterday afternoon. About the two cars colliding, and one hurdling up over the curb, and crashing into the lamp post a few feet from where I was fixing Marcel’s hat. About my instincts kicking in as I ran backwards and sideways tilting the double wide stroller so that the descending lamp pole would have less of an impact on their heads if I didn’t get out of the way on time. About how we made it, just. About the woman who came out of her car immediately after, to check on the boys and me, while others tended to the people in the cars. About how we were the lucky ones. About how I saw the glass and metal all around me, and heard screaming and crying, and found myself walking slowly to the park afterwords thinking about the Divine Presence that kept us a few feet away from a very different outcome.


  1. Oh, Cat! How terrifying!
    Be extra especially gentle with yourselves in the days to come, because that was TOO close. There’s trauma when it comes that near, and it’ll be moving through you all, but especially you.

    O.B., who’s been through some similar experiences, says both you and the kids will need to talk about it a lot. Lean on your extended family and community for support. Whew.


    • Thanks K and Annie! I so feel your concern and care. And thanks to O.B. for the insight too. I did talk to a social worker today about what to be on the lookout for with the boys (and can apply it to me too). Marcel is talking about it a lot, and Sammy did bring it up at school with a few friends. His teachers were listening carefully, and helping his friends have appropriate responses. They said Sam was really spacing out today.

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