I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I didn’t have to have my tonsils taken out when I was maybe 5 years old; if I’d not had to fly to the big island to see the doctor.
Life was pretty simple and adventurous on the 82 square mile island we lived on –St. Croix. It was on that island that I was introduced to my Christian tradition and witnessed first hand the power of its effect on the man to whom I owe that tradition – my father.
“Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda” – my father’s spiritual language.
Unintelligible uttering! I grew up surrounded by it.
My earliest recollections include playing in the dirt in front of the house of God, a church building atop a small hill, surrounded by nothing but sugarcane. In the midst of the sugarcane fields, skirting the hill, you could see the old slave quarters that in the past century housed the slaves that planted and processed the sugarcane. To the left of the wooden church building were a his and a her outhouses. An old shady tamarind tree behind the island church served as cover for our Sunday school class. We would sit on wooden benches, protected by the tree’s trunk which was as wide as I was tall. Its branches hovered over us as a heavenly mantle. The sweet fragrance of sugarcane filled the air. We learned about God.
♫ ♫ “God is good, God is good, God is good, He’s so good to me. He answers prayers, He answers prayers, He answers prayers, He’s so good to me. I love Him so, I love Him so, I love Him so, He’s so good to me.” ♫♫
We learned how God saved Noah from the flood, the Israelites from the Egyptians, David from the giant, Daniel from the lions, the Hebrew boys from the furnace, and you and me from sin.
He didn’t save me from my tonsillectomy.
We would get together with the adults in the church building. We would sing, play the tambourine, and we would pray.
And then I would hear it, “Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda!”. There was my father. Eyes closed, head shaking, brow wrinkled with worry, and he was saying something I didn’t understand. “Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda!” His arms were stretched by his sides as if paralyzed, and his fists were clenched tight. He was marching. With every step he took, he lifted his knees higher. He ran swiftly through the congregation as if to take flight. There he went. Up, up, up, above everyone’s head. My jaw dropped. From a child ‘s perspective standing on her tiptoes behind the last pew, he was flying. The fact was that he was walking effortlessly from the back of one pew to the back of another pew. He stopped suddenly and spoke some words. He continued to touch someone here or there. He would end up back behind the pulpit.
“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for the move of the Spirit. Thank you, Jesus.” My father would deliver a spirit-filled, soul-saving, body-healing sermon. It was later around the dinner table that I would hear about those who had been touched by the Spirit, those whose sin had been revealed and forgiven, and those who had received a miracle.
There were many things I did not understand growing up on the island as a child of Pentecostal missionary pastors. One thing I knew for certain, I was very careful every time I rounded a corner. I did not want to meet up with the devil. For if I did, my father was sure to know. He knew when people were sick without them telling him, and what disease God was going to heal in their bodies. People came to him for prayer because they knew he was a man of God. And he spoke in tongues. Glossalalia. Speaking in tongues.
The time came to go flying. Not from pew to pew but from island to island. It was my father that accompanied me on that flight to the big island to get my tonsils out. It was a small plane, one that lands on water. We were the only two passengers. The pilot invited me to sit as his copilot. My hands on the steering controls, I was flying. My piloting was interrupted by my very productive sneeze which filled my left hand. The pilot pulled out his handkerchief and said, “There, there, all cleaned up! Let’s get back to flying.”
My father never knew, it was never revealed to him, nor did he ever come to find out. After my tonsils were taken out, I went to my grandparents home to recover. My recovery was interrupted by continuous sexual assaults that lasted for several years.
There, there, let’s get back to flying.
I’ve often wonder how my life would have turned out if I didn’t have to have my tonsils taken out when I was maybe 5 years old; if I’d not had to fly to the big island to see the doctor.
“You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am” (Pat Barrett and Tony Brown))