I am spending my last week before I head back to Senegal for the summer in North Carolina. In New Bern. With my parents. And, my Aunt Rosanne. I get to spend time with all three of them here now, since Rosanne moved here last June.
New Bern is a small river town that is about a two hour drive from where I grew up – Raleigh and went to college – Durham.
It is also home to a branch of my family tree. I have roots here. And, when I am here I feel rooted and grounded in ways I can’t quite find anywhere else. I attribute that, of course, to being with my mom and dad. To their love. To the feeling that I am safe, secure and that I belong to them and they to me. A sense of belonging that I also attribute to my connection to those roots. Roots connecting me specifically to my grandmother.
New Bern is home to Chapmans. Before becoming a Wilson, my grandmother was a Chapman. New Bern is the place where this portion of my family left to join the great migration North. Migration that resulted in my Grandmother being raised in New Jersey where she eventually met my Grandfather.
I am glad my parents and my Aunts Rosanne and Mary found their way here. To place that feels like home. Not far from the river front. Not far from the cemeteries where Chapmans are buried. A place where we are closer to our roots. Close, I sense, to our ancestors. I place I am pretty sure my grandmother is thrilled to know we are reconnected to.
A closeness and connection that interestingly enough I have been able to cultivate in Senegal. One that has been a significant part of how I am able to connect with Spirit and feel a sense of love, reassurance and safety there. A connection that I reflect on in When Grandma Comes to Visit, which was just published in the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry’s special edition featuring the wisdom and insights of Black contemplatives – Transcendent Wisdom and Transformative Action: Reflections of Black Contemplatives.