Barak= lightning, to shine, blessed
When I ask my students how they’re doing, they generally reply “blessed” with a fist bump to their heart region. Living amongst a hurricane torn island: Houses half standing, restaurants slowly crawling back, power outages, and water wonderings, I ask myself to reconsider “blessed”. My stateside American version of blessed is the American dream: A big house, great job, money for vacation, dinners out, and all the chotskies. I am positive that the Caribbean definition of blessed is different.
Actually, I felt that type of blessed yesterday January 1, 2019. We said goodbye to Eva Mae. She is not my biological daughter, but she is mine. A former student, I saw her lightning years ago. It came through her eyes and connected to mine. She was blessed, a child of the divine. She stands tall with promise of good things to come and looks at others like they matter. Whether it is the cocaine addict that is railing obscenities, the dreaded sailor that is a sleep on the beach, or the college professor that likes their coffee a certain way, she stops, listens to their story, and shines. Her shining is deeper than her physical dimension, it is extraordinary...it is blessed.
When I listen to her stories of Appalachia, I laugh. Sometimes because the stories are outlandishly funny and other times because her experiences actually hurt (and laughing is all I know to do). Her life in the midst of pain, somehow is blessed. It is like a hurricane damaged huge pieces of the foundation, left some doors and windows swinging in the beach breeze, and yet it is still standing. Actually, it is more than standing. She is cooking soup for the neighbors and planning on adopting, yet another stray cat. She is lightning; she is blessed.
When I feel this type of blessing, this overwhelming sense that the world is not okay, and yet I am experiencing the extraordinary, I understand Caribbean blessing. It is “I and I” that the Rasta speaks of and it is “Barak” that the Hebrew knew. Blessing means we are united with God in the good and the bad. We are untouchable like lightning. We shine even in the rainstorm, and the hurricane. We live with promise when the world has none. Blessed is to have this deep connection with others and with God. To feel family with strangers and to know that everyday the extraordinary is happening in things we can and cannot see.
For 2019, may we be lightning. May we shine. May we be blessed.