Sunday, during our morning worship, our Pastor, in the midst of her sermon/teaching, began to sing old spirituals; hymns that go back generations, and that we probably heard when we were children. As I sat there listening and joining in when I knew the words, I was taken back to weekends with my grandmother, Nana. March is Women History month and it provides us with an opportunity in remembering and celebrating the famous and not so famous, the highly loved, extraordinary women in our life, like my Nana.
Nana, a little woman who stood under five feet in the natural, but was a giant to those who knew and loved her. Nana, who was as wise as Solomon with a third grade education from a one room schoolhouse in South Carolina. She was physically, mentally and spiritually strong. Nana carried many scars from life- from growing up in SC, living as a young adult in Georgia, and making the great migration north to NY with her children in tow. She was strong because of faith! I only remember seeing my Nana reading one book, a small print King James Bible. One with all the thee, thou and thine and she understood every word.
As a child I received my “introduction” to God from this book. Kneeling in a chair, so that I had a great view of the cake bowl, and licking droplets of cake batter that landed on the table, I would hear the “stories” of the people of the Bible from Nana. As I learned how to read, she would then bring the Bible to the table and turn to the different stories for me to read out loud. After the stories, I “graduated’ to the Book of Proverbs and I would read what she called, “life lessons”. The cake would then go in the oven for baking, cooled and iced. Ready for Sunday dinner. I miss her and those moments.
Sunday church, back home for dinner (that had been prepared at 6 that morning before church) then back to church for evening service. That was my Sunday, trailing behind Nana, she talking the whole time about the service and how God was taking care of us all. Sometimes, she would sing all the way home, in this high voice-a little off key. I have such fond memories of those times; my learning from my Nana, about this God who was bigger than life, who was life. This Father who had our lives in His Hand. The preacher might preach of brimstone and damnation, but my Nana spoke of a heaven like nothing else and a God who was lovingly waiting for us.
I didn’t realize then, for a matter of fact not until much later in life, that I was blessed with seeing, experiencing faith that couldn’t be explained. My Nana was such a peaceful person; I don’t remember ever seeing her furious about anything and even her anger was short lived. Calm and regal, soft spoken, patient, oh her patience and accepting of others-even after all she seen and experienced. She was constantly “talking” to God. He was her daily companion.
In later life, she developed dementia and during her final years, she lost recognition of us, her family, but she never “lost” her Lord. When she couldn’t hold a coherent conversation with us, she continued to “talk” with God. There was no mistaking that her talk with God was dementia! You knew from what she was saying that she was in total “right mindedness”. Nana would request certain Bible books, chapters or verses be read to her and she would sit in her chair and smile. We reverted back to the days of my reading to her again and it was my joy to share with her once again. Or she would sit and sing or hum to herself for hours. Was she sing to herself or for someone else? Nana died at 98-100 (couldn’t get her exact age accurate because a birth certificate was a name and date in a Bible in her time) and I am told that her last request was that the hospice attendant read to her. Nana left a legacy way beyond what she could possibly imagine. She planted seeds that are still producing life. Thank you, God for Nana! Julia Baker, a daughter of God.
Deacon Barbara Ghyll is a grandmother, a mother and a daughter. As a servant of the Lord she has been highly blessed and favored to serve God’s children to help them to unlock their potential and to excel academically in school. She holds a post Graduate degree in Educational Leadership and is a former NYC Elementary School Principal. She is also a former Adjunct Professor at NYU and Adelphi Universities and has over 48 years of experience in education, spanning from Chicago to NYC, both public, private and parochial school systems. She currently serves as a faithful member and as a Deacon at New Life Christian Center which is under the direction and leadership of Apostle Katherine Corbett.