Jackie Davis

From “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise ...

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries? ...

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise ...

Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise, I rise, I rise.

• • •

Lockport, this is not the end. New York, this is not the end. America, this is not the end.

It may look like it. It may feel like it, and sometimes we may think it, but we as long as we exist, we have possibility. As long as we have faith and hope, we can continue to reach, work, hope and pray for ways out of this present "valley" where so much around us is darkness.

The poem "Still I Rise" by the late, great Maya Angelo gives me inspiration and hope that we as a people, a community —  a nation — will rise from the depths of this current darkness of COVID-19, systemic racism, political gridlock, hatred and distrust.

Historically, we the people of America rise; no matter what we’ve faced in the past, no matter what we face in the present, whatever we will face in the future, still we rise. I am optimistic enough, hopeful enough, and prayerful enough to believe that God has not yet given up on the United States of America.

Faith in the divine causes us to explore that which goes beyond the limitations of our human understanding. We were created to think, question, imagine and consider more than what is right in front of us, and that is why we have not given up, despite our current circumstances.

The verse that resonates through my soul right now is “If my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

I invite you to join me and countless others to unite in such a prayer, that God will indeed “heal our land.” There is hope on the horizon. We have been in and through valleys of darkness before. Despite the depths of this one, still we rise.

May you be encouraged by this prayer by Helen Steiner Rice:

Give me faith O Lord to see

that Thou art watching over me

And when those little doubts appear,

Let me know that Thou art near

For my heart knows and understands,

My life is in your loving hands

And with this faith may I be lead,

Thy wondrous holy word to spread.

Jackie Davis is an experienced inspirational vocalist, musician and music instructor in Lockport. Her column is published every other week in the Union-Sun & Journal. Contact her at jackiedavis.music.words@gmail.com.

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