Traces of Home

We just completed our week at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. This church is unusual in two ways: one, it's the largest church -- physically and in membership -- in Greensboro, and second, it's the only predominantly black* church currently participating in the Interfaith network in Greensboro.

The first twenty-four hours of any of our church assignments is always a "feeling out" period; just like when you first get hired on or you join an organization for the first time. You want to make sure all your ducks are in a row and that the organization, well, feels right. With Mt. Zion, this process only took a bare few hours. Even setting aside the fact that we're also black, it just felt more comfortable at Mt. Zion more quickly. It also helped that the members, which included members of the Good Samaritan Ministries, went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

The first night at dinner told the tale. At all the other churches we've been guests of, dinnertime was definitely a friendly affair, with good food and good company. But dinner at Mt. Zion was different in that it felt more like a family reunion. It's a difficult feeling to describe; We knew this wasn't "home", and the members weren't "family" in the strictest sense, yet it felt like it. I don't know if that description (admittedly it's a weak one) makes sense to someone that's never been to a family reunion.

Typically, such affairs are quite boisterous, where young and old alike swap viewpoints and experiences. Any and all topics are broached, as long as it's done in good taste and humor. And all of it is done around large bites of some of the best homecooked food. I know this describes the same experience as people of all ethnicities take part in; it's just...different.

Nessie had her time in the spotlight the night before last. She brought her violin home from school (as she does every weekend) and her guitar that she got last Christmas. She gave an impromptu performance that the members all seemed to enjoy. I believe she was even invited to perform at the church this morning.

The subject of the blog came up last night when we were all in the Common Room welcoming a new family into the network. Several members seemed thrilled to finally meet the "Mama" they'd read so much about. To her surprise, none of them seemed to mind that she practiced yoga, a source of anxiety for her up until last night.

Mama and Nessie spoke very highly of Mt. Zion. I think the church may have gained two more members.

*I don't much care for the term "African-American". First of all, although genetically I share similarities with the denizens of the sub-saharan African continent, I've never been to Africa in my life. Nor do I have any desire to go. Second, if the anthroplogists are correct, we all share an African ancestry becuase that's where Earth's first humans appeared. Third, "African-American" seems too stilted for me. It just smacks of an artificial attempt to be overly polite. I'm black. It's okay to call me that. Actually, I've lived long enough to be many things: "colored", "Negro", "Afro-American", "urban", "African-American", and of course the loathsome "N-word". At the end of the day, they're just words.

well, I myself, prefer to be called Magnaminous or if you feel the need Magnaminous-American. I do the like the familiar part of going to church, but other than that I cant feel it.
I am happy to know that we can call you black. I agree with your viewpoints that you stated in the footer. In fact, until just this moment I didn't even know you were.

I love church. It's just that sometimes I don't love "churches." Know what I mean? It is always wonderful to find a group, a "family" of people who are so kind and welcoming as you have been blessed to find.
I see that you want to be called black instead of 'African American'. Most black people I know feel the same way. I have a friend who is white and who was born in South Africa. He moved to this country as an adult and became an American citizen. Now, he really is an 'African American' even though he might possibly be the whitest looking guy I've ever seen. Hehe. I always thought that was kind of amusing and since you had mentioned that you prefer to be called black I thought I'd tell the story. :-)
Michael: please do look at my own blog here (The Undetectable Homeless) and try this site for stories that I have been documenting for several years on http://www.studioclub.com/images/literature/literature.htm

My blog has begun here but a link is to my own site: http://www.HousingAndJobAlternatives.com

Your continuing saga is an intriguing, inspirational, and informational "book" which will help others...which is what I have been trying to do with a doctoral dissertation (right after being homeless on a deserted island for a long time and learning how to become self-sufficient) and two books, numerous articles, and an e-doc which lets the undetectable homeless tell their stories.


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