Believe it or not my first public experience with Spirit was not through prayer or preaching. I was overcome by Spirit at the age of 13/14 as I led, "Brand New Life" in the W.H. Randy Youth Choir at PBC in Lanett, Al. I was all the way behind. Singing connected me and grounded me to my Mother, Ophelia Billingsley. The most vivid memory I have of her is one from early childhood maybe 3-5 years old. I was in the tub for my bath and she started singing Sam Cooks "Bring it Home"--'If you ever, ever change your mind/about leaving/leaving me behind/bring it to me/bring me your sweet lovin/ bring it on home to me/' This must have been our bath time ritual because I chimed in with harmony "yeah..yeaah." Then my Dad, who was in the kitchen, started with the verse, and without prompt, just reading my Mothers smile, I came in with my little girl voice that carried my grown woman ase' 'yeah..yeah.''
On 9.16.1999 at the age of 16, I was told my Mother was dead. She would be buried a few days later. The ride in the limo was horrible. They played some sad music. I was hot. Short of breath. No one comforted me. No pastoral care. I walked out of the funeral...dazed. Of all things to contend with amongst all my current contentious things, I was burying my Mother. Everything about that day is a blur. Except when I buried the part of myself that grounded me in her: My Creative Voice who is heard best through music/poetry/and lyrics.
On 5.24.1996 at the age of 12, I wrote in my journal that God wanted me to teach people (young and old) about God. And I listed the gifts that I could use for that purpose in this order:
2. Able to talk to people
3. Able to write songs off the top of my head
4.Act very well
5. this space is blank...I was wise even then...leaving room for growth!
Prior to her death, somewhere between the ages of 9-12, I heard a song within myself and I wrote it for my Mother and I sung it to her. She looked at me and said," Niecieann you wrote that song for me? That's real good."
On 5.28.2013 I returned to my Mother's grave that I once visited obsessively for several months following her death. I had not been to the site in years... so long that I had to look for her tombstone. White flowers from my alter in hand, a bottle of water on deck, and with my first born, who I did not birth but I'm deliverin', by my side; I went to the place where I last left the center of me--my Untamed Creative Spirit. I requested that she rise with the power of her death, burial, and resurrection in her hands!.
On 5.28.2013 I poured water and sprinkled white flowers atop the resting place of my Mother's body. I acknowledged Mother Earth’s refusal to imprison Energy; thus, my Mother’s Soul was and will always be with me and my household. I thanked my Mother for loving me enough to release me when she identified herself as incapable of taking care of me. I blessed her womb which in turn released mine.
Now after 13 years and some months in the grave, I rise without any part of myself repressed. None of my voice silenced. All of my ofa ase is here/ I am here...all of me/fully present/and ready!.
Ophelia's Only Daughter