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Yesterday I had a dentist appointment to fill some cavity's and while laying in that chair I learned so much about refinement.

1. Refinement first requires us to be present for our appointment.

There is an ordained atmosphere in which transformation becomes optimal. So we can't try to "get right" in the wrong spaces. We have to position ourselves in the proper environment that will allow our needs to be addressed at the core.

2. The Refiner has to go beneath the surface.

Refinement required that the doctor went inside of me and cut some stuff out. But not only did they cut, they replaced some things, they filled the voids and the crevices with substance. So we have to be careful what substances we subsitute things for becuase this particular substance that was being placed inside my mouth, was one that would sustain the grind, bite, and gnawing of everyday life. When you're looking for a subsittue make sure it's something that is built to endure and in the face of everyday life.

3. Refinement requires loss & shedding

In the removal and renewal process, there is a cutting, a shaving that is done to create fertile groudn if you may. Similar to the sanding process that's done to wood before its primed, painted, and finished. Similar to God's clensing process [Zecheriah 13], He purifies us, refines us by fire and sends trials to test us, so that we may emerge assured in our idenity in Him. You've got to be prepared for some loss when you're going through the refining process.

4. The Refiner is a professional.

I can't just let anyone work on me because in the event I do so, I risk worsening the damage.

  • The Refiner sees what I can't see. The reason I'm in the chair in the first place, is because I was examined and diagnosed on a condition I could not detect on my own.

  • The refiner not only has the tools for the task, but they know how to use the tools. It's one thing to have pocession, but it's another to be a professional. It's not enough to just have access to resources, but do you have the ability to activate the resrouces - to where healing happens and not harm.

5. Refinement ain't always visible

I coulnd't see what was going on above me, but I felt the hands at work in me. I coulnd't see the results until the refinement process is over. So be patient becuase some of us are expecting to see the product before we've finished the process. You're not supposed to see it all. I caught glimses of the equipment hovering over my head, but I lowkey didn't even want to see what all they were using. If I saw how sharp the tools were, I would've probably jumped and tried to evade the expereince. But there's something graceful and loving in the way God can numb us. Y'all know what it's like to be numb - to not feel the full effect of your reality. I love it when God makes me numb, not when society makes me numb. I don't want to be numb to injustice and things that should really discomfort me. I want to be numb for the sake of renewed sensitivtiy and that's a word for someone today, the reason you're in the chair right now is because God is trying to restore your awarenes, your compassion, your mindufulness. Don't leave the doctor/dentist/refinement process, and keep moving the way you did before you got there. You've got to learn some lessons that'll make you adapt and evolve your lifestyle in accordance with your exposure.

6. Refiement has a frangrance and refiment has a sound.

Now I didn't really feel the pain becuase I was numbed, but I heard what was going on and I smelled it. I could smell the smoke flowing from the friction of tools on my teeth, like the residue of a saw shaving through wood, there was a scent in the air. I can still hear that wretched sound ringing through the room. Refinment is noisy, refinement is not always silent so don't associate being numb with being null. You're still a particpant in the transofrmation process. Refinement requires stillness, but stillness is an act of submission. It requires energy and attentiveness to stay still and open wide when directed. It rerquires that we give of ourselves and that we trust in the hands that are working on our behalf.

I would not have this mesage to share with you if I was not asking the question of why am I here in this seat, if I did not wonder what it was like for God to be behind the scenes speaking to me, if when I looked to my left and saw the assitant, I imagined her as grace, if when I looked to my right and saw the lead dentist I imagined her as mercy - one with power but careful with how she used it. If I didn't look through the people and look for God at work in the room, I wouldn't be writing to you right now.

7. Refinemnt is a gift and refinement is for our upbuilding.

Refinement is whenever the clay recognizes that it's in the potter's hands.

You're in God's hands, always.

It was the Rev. Al Sharpton who spoke on the occasion of Rosa Park’s funeral service - a day filled with remembrance of a revolutionary woman. Revolutionary in fact because of her distinct and divinely ordered decision to stand up [by sitting down] in the face of an oppressive system.

As Rev. Sharpton reflected on this moral inflection point in history he spoke a word that reverberates today: “Mirrors are not only to reflect what you see, but to correct what you see”.

We are raised by a range of mirrors. Some which reflect the “right” way to live and some which reflect the wrong.

We are led to believe that what’s familiar is right and what’s foreign is wrong. Though despite our nurtured conceptions, their remains placed in us a God given moral compass. We are drawn into this world on somewhat of a blank canvas, engraved with divine design. Though as we grow, we also inherit instruction from the reflections of these around us.

Yet this sense, this intuition, and divinely endowed discernment arises at times when our divine reflection is fogged by the folly of human nurture.

Conflict is inevitable in a world that continually challenges our character. Still we know what harmony feels and looks like.

This morning our group of 30 students and chaperones made our way through the airport to TSA, onward to home. As security chauferred our group to the proper checkpoint, we were met with our fair share of glares.

As we processed through the stanchions in unison, a brief line of travelers began to built up around us patiently waiting for us to pass.

But there was one family of three that just could not wait. Well a mother who couldn’t wait and two children who seemingly had no choice but to follow.

Their mother was a mirror for disruption. She reflected the reality that not everyone has patience for the process. She reflected the desire we each feel to go when something in us says “no”.

This woman was not in a hurry, she was on her own time in her own world. We seemingly lived among her, becoming a hurdle in her path. There was no rush, only a need for speed.

Despite her inconsideration, with a breath of hope, her son says” mom, what are you doing?”. As if to signal that something’s wrong, as if to reach for a reversal or to warn the wayward.

The mother knew what she was doing, but the son knew better. He saw the signs- not in the swing of the morning’s momentum, not in the flow of rolling bags, not in the pulse of the people in front of him, but in his God given inner sense.

In that moment he chose to witness, he chose to live out loud. I can’t blame him for following, I can only commend him for speaking up.

Today I woke up ready to go about my business with normalcy. It wasn't until I was greeted with multiple Happy Founders Day messages that I was reminded that this is indeed the day that Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (APA) was founded.

I joined the fraternity in 2018 and recall both the thrill and excitement I experienced in my early years (in the fraternity). We threw parties, spoke with brothers across the generations, strolled all day long (as we did everyday) and rocked our slick signature black and gold paraphernalia.

As I came to find, Founders' Day really is like a national holiday celebrated across Black greek organizations. It's a time to celebrate the foundation that was laid for these organizations to be established. What I found even more powerful, the work that has gone into sustaining these organizations over the years.

With an organization like APA which is over a century old and having "crossed" at the founding chapter at Cornell, this day has felt like a special occasion. Special because of what it meant to be a part of this rich legacy.

Though in recent years, I have become more intentional and careful in how I characterize my associations, the fraternity included. The more I've grown in my relationship with God the more my sensitivity and intolerance for injustice has increased.

What injustices could I be talking about ?

Though a lot of good has come from my fraternal involvement a lot of bad has arisen as well. When I say good, I am referring to being surrounded and embraced by brotherly love, being an advocate for my community, and serving not just for what it looks like but because it is ingrained in the fabric of our identity. When I speak on what is bad, I am referring to the lovelessness that persists in "paper and "GDI" comparisons and othering, conditional brotherhood, gatekeeping and hazing practices, as well as ego driven decision making.

In the context of Black progress, higher educational attainment, social justice advocacy and much more, there are many elements to be elated about. But if we refuse to challenge, disrupt, and ignore the reality of the deception and abuse that remains active simultaneous to the celebration of today, then we dishonor the very tenets and ideals in which the fraternity was founded upon.

So today I take a step back to take a step up and share a greater truth about my experience.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

So despite the work that remains to be done, the conversations that must continue to be had, I rejoice today in the fact God has given us the capacity to hold the good and break away from the bad. I am not perfect, but I am much more honest about who I am and what I've been through. I am glad that our legacy as a people will be one that was not afraid to confront wrongdoing and oppression.

Progress will require both the victim and the oppressor's confession. Nobody's free until everybody's free.

Written with love and hope.

Prayer for a Punctuated Promise
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