Purple Haze


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Not long ago I was watching The Color Purple , an adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, again, for the ump-teenth time. At first I was nothing but aggravated because of all the commercial interruptions (it was on Lifetime or something). After awhile though, I realized the commercials were actually quite convenient; they gave me an opportunity to reflect upon some of the central themes of the film without missing anything. (Maybe they should have commercials at the movie theaters? Uh, okay, no, bad idea. But I digress.)

Anyhow, near the end of the movie, I was once again affected by the scene between Mister (Danny Glover) and Miss Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) where the entire family is gathered at the dinner table and Shug tells everyone that she is leaving and Celie is going with her.  Immediately upon hearing this, Mister begins yet another hideously cruel tirade against Celie.  Something is different this time though: Celie, for the first time stands up to him. Of course this doesn’t go over well with the mean-spirited Mister:

Albert: I shoulda locked you up. Just let you out to work.

Celie: The jail you plan for me is the one you gonna rote in!

Albert: I’ma knock you under…

[Celie hold up some kind of sign]

Celie: Everything you done to me, already been done to you.

[Celie get in car]

Celie: I’m poor, black, I may even be ugly, but dear God I’m here, I’m here!

Now, let us fast forward a bit further when Celie is on the train headed out of town. She sees a little girl running along side the train and steps out on the balcony  to capture a better look. As she gazes at the little girl, she imagines it’s her sister as a little girl. Her “sister” is smiling and waving at her. A porter then walks out onto the balcony to offer Celie chocolates. She scoops up the chocolates and  tosses them behind the train, down to the little girl, who clearly reminds her of better days, of her youth, and quite possibly, of what love looks and feels like. (Earlier in the film, at that same dinner gathering, Celie tells Mister that he took her sister away from her knowing that she was “the only somebody” who ever loved her). Wow!

Where did this take me in my own assessment of memory and both the prison it can create as well as the freedom that it can give rise to? At first thought, it seems a dichotomous encounter. How can one thing be both good and bad? The seeming incongruency isn’t such a conundrum actually.  For me, as Celie is watching her “sister” chasing down that train, laughing and waving, it’s as if she is suddenly reacquainted with the only good thing from her youth: her sister’s love for her. Having lived such an utterly and despicably horrendous life otherwise, that love is what gave her the strength to survive all the years of torment. Those same memories however are the very same that made the prison she was living in so unbearable. She knew there was something better; she’d experienced it. What is worse than having that sweet thing in life, losing it, and yet knowing it’s still out there waiting to be reclaimed? Although she may not have known exactly where her sister was, or where her children were, she knew that the love was out there waiting for her to find her way back to it.

She tells Mister, “I’m poor, I’m black, I may even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here!” As I watched that scene, it struck me that it’s in those moments of self acceptance, of absolute acknowledgement of who it is God created us to be and the power we have in that acknowledgement, that the memories that at once hurt like piercing nails through our hearts, suddenly become the gift which sets us free. It’s  the thing that propels us to search the earth for that which was designed for us in the first place. I love the scene that shortly follows with Shug and Celie walking through the sea of purple flowers with the hazy sun dangling lazily in the sky. Shug says something to the effect of God not being pleased when we walk past the color purple without acknowledging it. Remembrance of that which is pure, beautiful, lovely, and solely ours is the point at which we get our wings back.

As I see it, it’s  at that moment when Celie is watching that little girl run after that train, that precious moment, that takes her to the next chapter of her life with a marvelous start. In watching that little girl, it could be argued that Celie is having memories of her future. Sounds strange? Stay with me. I’m going someplace here.

At the very end of the film, when Celie finally meets her children, who are now adults, and is reunited with her sister, we, the audience have the privilege of witnessing what I believe to be one of the purest scenes in any film I’ve ever seen. The grown women begin playing patty cake. The children run to their mother with tears of joy and because they were raised in Africa, the accents make the sound of the word “Mama” sound as if little children are for the first time saying the word (at least to me). The house Celie inherits after the man she once believed to be her father, and who was in fact the father of her own two children is now surrounded by flowers, trees, beautiful sunlight. The sequence of events may be slightly off, but these are all occurrences at the end of the film.) All the things God calls good; all the things He created for our pleasure are present. When we become as little children, we are free to explore the love, the joy, and the wonder we freely inherit from our Creator.  I would go on, but you get where I’m going, I’m sure.

Now, with her family back, with her life returned to her, now free from the bondage of rejection, hatred, abuse, perversity, bitterness, resentment and all the rest, Celie is free to re-create the memories of the love she shared with her sister. The love that kept her alive all those years, when most would have died, one way or another (I understand that in those times, and even today in some households, survival is innate and you just “go on.” Here though, I’m speaking more about spiritual death). Celie’s spirit continued to hope, to dream, to yearn, because of those memories God gave her in the beginning.

My thoughts are as follows: when our memories of love, of security and of safety rise up within us, pushing the pain out of the sphere of our souls and of our spirits, and becomes our strength and no longer our prison, we are set free. Freedom now exists to give of ourselves with abandon, and yet still remain wise. Our hearts remain free to be broken because the joy of the Lord is our strength and our confidence rests with Him, not with no stinkin’ man (or woman, or friend, or husband, or wife, or…). Freedom to reach out and be blessings to others without the crippling doubt that it won’t be good enough, or  that we will be taken advantage of. Freedom to be who we are, nothing more, nothing less and, get this: LOVE WHO WE ARE. And finally, freedom to pity the ‘Misters’  of the world while still having so much love overflowing from our hearts that there is no possibly of ever exhausting our reserves.

I know why the caged bird sings
by Maya Angelou
A free bird leaps on the back

Of the wind and floats downstream

Till the current ends and dips his wing

In the orange suns rays

And dares to claim the sky.But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage

Can seldom see through his bars of rage

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

Of things unknown but longed for still

And his tune is heard on the distant hill for

The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

And the trade winds soft through

The sighing trees

And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright

Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams

His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with

A fearful trill of things unknown

But longed for still and his

Tune is heard on the distant hill

For the caged bird sings of freedom.

You Want What With Your What?

Two posts in one week. I’m really in the mood to write, to share something. But what, I wonder?

I’m thinking something light and breezy. This brings me back to a time, long ago, when I was waiting tables. On one of my first lunch shifts I had a lovely party of four come in. If I recall correctly it was two doctors’ and their wives. It started out well. They were funny, I was charming. They were friendly, down to earth; I was welcoming, living to please. We laughed; made light conversation.  I told them the specials. So delighted they were! “What would you like to drink?,” I asked. “Perhaps a glass of something or another from the bar?” (Of course I can’t recollect the exact conversation but it went something like this, I’m sure.) “Why yes, that sounds about right,” doctor number one said. I went around, took their orders and finally doctor number two ordered. “I’d like a gin martini, straight up, chilled, with onions.” I looked at him, surprised. “Certainly. I’ll return with your drinks shortly.”

Off to the bar I traipsed. Onions? Who the heck wants an onion with their drink? Okay, well, he’s paying for it. I’m here to serve. Now picture me entering the order into the computer, chuckling to myself at the absurdity of people. While waiting for the drinks, I dash off to the kitchen. This way I can deliver everything together. I return with my goods from the kitchen, go to the bar and  pick up my drinks.

Upon returning to the table, the conversation seems to be flowing freely. Everyone appears happy.  I smile and ask if they are doing well  as I put the drinks down. I finally round off to doctor number two, set down his martini and his plate of onions. Red onions if I’m not mistaken.  

He looked at me, I looked at him. What’s he looking at me with those crazy eyes for? He’s the one who ordered onions. Maybe he wanted white onions, or chives or something. The table is silent. And when I say silent, I mean you could hear the pin falling, let alone dropping, and I, feeling uneasy and just a little bit scared, say something like to the effect of, “Your food should be arriving shortly.” More silence, knowing glances around the table, and then, suddenly, an eruption of laughter that would’ve made Stevie Wonder turn around to see what all the commotion was.

Who knew there was such a thing as cocktail onions? They left a great tip though. That I remember clearly. Talk about a situation that could’ve turned out so very wrong!  But lucky for me, the doctors’ and their wives had a marvelous sense of humor.

Well, this is me, double o, shaken, not stirred, cocktail, not videlia…out.

Memories of My Dreams

Well, here I am. Though there were moments I thought I might not make it. You see, I put my goals out there for this blog as a way to keep myself honest, with myself, because sometimes my self doesn’t wish to co-operate with the rest of myself. Did you get that? Nonetheless, as I was saying, here I am. Still here. Still trying to be perfect. I’ve fought with this darn notion that everything I post must first be outlined, edited, re-outlined, and then re-edited. Once that process is over, I must then sit on it; wait it out. Read over once and while and see how feels. Read it aloud and taste it on my literary palette. LOL…so now you understand how full on myself my self can be  (please excuse me while I laugh uproariously for a moment…). Ahem, okay, I’m back. My dog is staring at me as if to say “woof, woof, bark, yap woof.” Translation: “there the crazy broad goes again.”

Yeah so, back to the memory post. (If you missed it, I had this crazy idea to run a series (nothing ambitious, right?) of posts regarding memory and how it affects perception; what it means to me; how it’s affected my life and so on). Just now, just in these past moments, I suddenly had an epiphany (if this is something you’ve already figured out, please, just let me have my moment. Play along…oh please, just play along for cryin’ out loud!).

As I wander down my path in life, yes wander, I often wonder “why God, is it so hard sometimes? What do I need to do differently because the same obstacles continue to plague me (yes plague…alittle drama never hurt nobody)?” Returning to serious mode, at times I feel as if I’m stuck but moving forward. Sound impossible? Well, try living it. It’s as if all these opportunities set themselves at my feet and all I can do is stare down at them. What the h* e* double hockey sticks am I supposed to do with these precious gifts? I can’t even…you fill in the blank. Ever hear insanity defined? You know, doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.

The memory of failure, of rejection, of self-loathing is a trap. Let me tell you something; let me tell my self something: God does not graduate us, me, until and unless the lesson we, I need to learn is learned. “Why God, why?” I cry; I scream silently. “Why?” Well, here is a little something He takes me back to so very often. Exodus 13:17-18 says ” when Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they  might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a roundabout way through the wildernesss (emphasis mine) toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.”

Now I am not a theologian; I am not a teacher of doctrine. I am a woman who prays and asks God to show me, to speak to me through His Word. And just what does this have to do with memory you may be wondering? Well, I’m going to tell you. Memory of my past, memory of my fear, has kept me bound for so long. God is not going to lead me to a place of victory when He knows I’m not strong enough to face the giants that await me there. I know that I already have victory in Christ; just go with me here. I’m not talking about winning in Christ, or stomping on the devil’s head in Jesus’ Name; I believe in that but what I’m talking about  is the everyday life stuff. “God did not lead them along the main road…”. “God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness (emphasis mine)...”.  The memory of my wilderness brings me to my knees at times. Sometimes in prayer and sometimes in writhing pain. Here’s the kicker, my memory of hurt, of loss, of defeat, those things are not God. But when I allow them to control me, I make them my god; my idol gods (you run with that anyway you like).

It’s really strange and cool and surreal at times: once in a while I’ll dream of being a little girl and I’m happy, content, loved, safe, confident. Now don’t get me wrong for moment. I would not under any circumstances change one thing about my life up to this point. Certainly there are regrets, certainly there were hurts, pain. Certainly there were things I can’t believe I did, said; ways I behaved. However, the memory of love I’m left with is not anything I’d ever give up. Okay, having said that, back to my dreams. When I have those dreams, in them there are always dirt gullies and  pathways involved (my grandparents lived in a place where the roads weren’t paved and there were gullies and hills); the color yellow is prominent (my grandmother loved bright colors); my mother is always laughing, though I can’t see her (hmmm?); I’m wearing a twirling short dress (I’m always really young, eight or nine maybe, so reel in that gutter mind); and I am safe, secure, but always alone. Don’t get me started trying to figure out the dream, the being alone but happy part, because I do not know. The point is this: God is a God of restoration. God takes us, me along the path that is right for us, for me. When I have these types of dreams, it amazes me that they come at times when I am feeling low to the earth; down and outside the loop. What He is trying to tell me when my memory is telling me, reminding me that it’s all bad, don’t get excited about your life, don’t go for your passion ’cause it ain’t goin’ work out girl, don’t do this, don’t do that, so on and on and on, is that it’s all inside of me, everything I need to live a powerful, not pitiful life (thanks Joyce Meyer for that saying);  all I need to live with security and confidence, I have  inside because I, The Lord Jesus live inside and My Spirit guides your spirit. After waking up from these types of dreams I am warm, I am secure, I am certain I am loved. I am a soldier in an army that is ready for battle. So I guess I need to remember that.

Without the assistance of that Divine Being … I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, Feb. 11, 1861

Stepping Back to Lean Forward

Wow. Two weeks came much more quickly than I expected. Although I thought it would be good for me to commit to blogging by-weekly, I find myself in a conundrum. On the one hand  I have spent time blog surfing and reading some brilliant posts, and I notice that the more successful blogs are those with current and at least weekly posts.  That certainly influences me to reconsider blogging only twice a month. Here lies my issue of concern: what to write about on a weekly basis? Truth be told, that really isn’t my issue. My issue is how to write well, every week. I’m concerned with sacrificing well written, purposefully thought out, and substantive material for quantity. Something to ponder. I must make a choice.  If I wish to have frequent visitors and encourage subscriptions, I must be committed to frequent posts. If I wish to be confident about what I’m putting out there, I must think realistically in regards to the amount of time I have to put into this.

As I’ve been weighing my options this past week and trying to figure out what I want to post this week (I have a list of undeveloped topics), I couldn’t help but notice some of the short falls on my current blog/theme. The actual background theme. I love it but as I mentioned up above, I have been blog surfing for a couple of weeks now and I have noticed so many wonderful things about what makes a blog attractive. At least to me. While I love the dark background of my blog, I’ve seen that many of the more “cheery,” and professional looking blogs have brighter backgrounds. Some of the menus I’m seeing that I am really digging are not compatible with the theme I’ve chosen. Yet, I am reluctant to change my theme, not only because I like it but because I don’t want to alienate any regular traffic I’m building by constantly changing the look of my blog (I changed it once already).  Anyhow, those are some of the things I’m grappling with.

However, on to bigger and more exciting things. As I said, my thoughts on what to write about this time around have been jumbled. But, yesterday as I sat in the Carl’s Jr. parking lot listening to National Public Radio,  eating my guacamole, turkey burger combo (alittle dry, but good nonetheless), I began thinking about the art of storytelling. So many ideas flooded my brain; I began to think about my favorite authors. Not until that moment did I clearly understand the common thread between them. I was thinking specifically about Isabel Allende, Francine Rivers, and Maya Angelou, the three who make my top ten list of  best of the best. These three, in particular, are all writers of historical fiction in one way or another.

Historical fiction is a genre in which I take great pleasure. Ms. Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea is my current read.    

Francine Rivers: well, I’ve read nearly everything she has written. In fact, her latest series is on deck after Ms. Allende. The Mark of the Lion series is what turned me on to  Ms. Rivers. Of course we can not forget about Ms. Angelou. What to say about her writing? Magnificent. These three women have forever colored my vision of what it means to be a great writer. Not only do they demonstrate outstanding writing skills, but each of them gives to the reader something that is unique to the  great ones: vulnerability. What do I mean by that? Well, I will explore that in my next blog. This is simply the skeleton of what I intend to share with you in my next entry. During the course of my blog surfing, I found at least one post by a woman who strongly exhibits some of the same traits I personally enjoy in some of my preferred authors. I have requested her permission to repost her post to use as an example. So please look forward to that.

I’m thrilled about this next set of posts I’ll be doing. As I was thinking about storytelling, it struck me that I have a story I wish to tell. Like many people, I semi-secretly have fancied myself a writer. I’ve prayed for God to show me if that is truly the desire He has put in my heart, or whether I am merely trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. What occurs to me each time I go down that road is that I am finding ways to avoid doing what I love. I avoid writing;  I talk myself out of doing what feels natural. Because I’m so rusty, when I do write and doesn’t sound perfect, I tell myself that I’m barking up the wrong tree. Well, I suppose we are shortly sure to find out whether that’s true or not.

This may be a bit ambitious of me, but what I have purposed to do is to start a series of stories. Stories dealing with the concept of memory and perception. At times I try to remember my childhood and there are  times when I don’t know if I’m actually remembering from my memory, or whether I’m taking my cues from pictures or things I heard someone else say. Nonetheless, I have always been fascinated with memory, perspective, truth and the question of what that is. How to define the truth of my memories seems impossible if I’m not even sure of what it is I’m remembering, or where that memory is coming from.

Well, I’m leaving it at that for now. I have a skinny outline in my head of which I have transferred very little to paper. I’m thrilled to finally do this “project” that has been on my mind and in my spirit for so long. I no longer wish to allow the fear to slow me down or stop me. Now that the skeleton is outlined, I’ll spend this week putting meat on the bones. I will see you here next week-end, Sunday night.

Until then, God bless.

Chasing the Sweet Life


My first blog! Yikes. I mean yay. I begin this project with both exhilaration and just a bit of trepidation.  As I contemplated what the purpose of this blog would be, what I would discuss and share, I found myself with a nearly paralyzing feeling of anxiety. For the life of me, no matter how seriously I wanted to begin, I found myself procrastinating each week. I told myself that it had to be perfect. I had to be able, not to mention willing, to just put it all out there; to let go of any fear, anxiety, or insecurity that was overshadowing my confidence. That was over a month ago. Is it possible to find enough excuses to not do something you really want to do, you might ask. Well, yes, yes it is. Let me share my “process” with you just to give you an insight into the mind that is mine.

First, I came up with the brilliant idea to create a blog where I could share all the glorious things I’ve learned in my life; all of the ugly things I’ve learned from and lived through. I believed this would be the perfect forum for expressing things that fascinate or horrify me and at the same time would provide a space for feedback on those topics. This could be a place for me to explore my passions and share those passions with other like-minded folks. And the super-duper coolest thing I could do would be to share the journey of my relationship with God. Okay, so now I have somewhat of a purpose. They only took, oh, about a week of jotting down notes on stray scraps of paper, many of which I have no clue where they are. So now I go on to search out which site would be the best place to have a blog. Obviously Word Press came out the winner. Another couple of days. That was the easy part because now, well now, I have to work; put the proverbial pen to paper. Here is where the alarms begin going off in my head: what if I can’t do it? What if no one likes what I write? What if can’t write well enough to be taken seriously? What if, what if, what if…

I put those fears in their compartment, a box in my mind marked “denial and procrastination.” Reading and critiquing other blogs became my nightly homework. What works, what doesn’t, what drew me in, what turned me off. That sort to thing.  I then moved on to learning the best way to navigate Word Press. Now get this, don’t laugh, but I actually bought two books, one on how to blog and another on how to use Word Press. I would online my thoughts and read all the tips Word Press gave for starting a blog. I took notes, I bookmarked, I highlighted. Really. Below you can see how seriously I took the advice given. I did the exercise offered as a tip for coming up with a theme for my blog. I drew the stick figure and I used the  timer as prescribed. It was a good tip; only caused me to extend my thoughts rather than narrow them, but not to the fault of the advice. If you know me, it’s not difficult to understand how something meant to help only caused further distress.

Fast forward to the day I finally choose a theme. Let’s not even begin to discuss how long that took. By now I’ve found one I like well enough, more than the others, and I’ve activated it. So it’s there, I can see it and now I just need to write something. I go back to my laundry list of possible topics and can’t choose. I mean a blog is supposed to have a relatively tight and narrow theme right? The first blog is going to set the tone for the rest, right? What to choose, what to choose…again with that pesky panic. I simply can not choose. I can’t. As I contemplate what to write about, I can’t think of one or even two central issues I want to feature. But I want to do this so badly; I want to write, I want to share, I want to not give up and quit before I even begin. I want to stand up and be courageous for once in my life and stomp my fear of rejection and failure into the abyss of pure, sheer, lovely confidence. I’m doing this. Then it came to me. Not like some nebulous coincidence, but rather a defined, purposed, finite thought. Something I’ve heard and said so many times in my life: I am not limited. I do not have to capitulate to boundaries I set on myself because I don’t believe I can do something, or because I don’t feel worthy of the feeling of joy. Whoa…what the heck is going on here??

Small increments of suddenly began to wash over me. With God all things are  possible. Little whispers of encouragement. This thing I’m experiencing isn’t merely about writing a blog; it’s so much bigger than that. Through this ongoing experience I realize that my spirit is closed; my heart is withered and my belief in my  abilities has been mislaid. Look to Me for your sustenance. This practice I have of not allowing myself to be all I am, of limiting myself based upon some twisted sense of self, has been a permeating theme through my life. When I really, really want something, I can pretty well talk myself into why I can’t or shouldn’t have it. I have choices and choices are good; free will and all. But for me, I neglect to see the positive choices and focus on the negative. It was all the same with this blog. Who am I? That’s actually what I asked myself. Over a blog! A blog. How many times have I done that to the detriment of a better choice, a more favorable situation?  That is why I choose Revive the Vine for my blog name. The breath of life has slowly been sucked out of me and I’m ready to chase that sweet life I’ve been promised.

I don’t have to limit what this blog is about. I don’t have to limit what my life is about. No one is one-dimensional. I’m sure not. I just measured my short comings in terms of being less than good enough. I’m good enough. My blog will be good enough for me. I don’t have to select one topic to write about. It’s a thematic issue, not a singular subject issue. My life has a theme too I just haven’t been living it as such. Okay, enough mush. On to more interesting things. My blog will not be limited. It will be structured. We’ll see what I’m reading at any given time; we will have occasion  to  laugh and/or cry about issues in the world. I will share encouragement and moments of wisdom God gives me; I’ll share the wisdom of others with the rest of you. When I attempt a gourmet meal maybe I’ll show you pictures. I will share my thoughts about the reality that our youth are in a lot of trouble if our society doesn’t stand up with purpose and take our kids back from that evil presence that hovers over many of our communities.  You’ll get the chance to laugh with me, not at me, when I post pics of my amateur attempts at photography.  And whatever else comes along.  I’m reviving and awaking. This move symbolizes a motion towards something new and exciting. A life full of love, imagination, adventure, and just plain old freedom from stagnancy. Woo hoo! Let’s roll baby!

I’ll see you in two weeks.  Let’s have a  beautiful life.
God Bless.

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


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