I have always been a very spiritual person. Since I was a young girl, I accepted Jesus into my heart, and I strived to live a holy life. Though often tempted, and wandering in this world, I am still a sinner. I still fall short, but I know that my God loves me enough to give me grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness every day of my life.
Since moving to Puerto Rico, I have had many spiritual encounters which have allowed me to connect to my African roots. There is a common belief in the Caribbean that the spiritual world is very much connected to the physical world. I feel connected to my ancestors when I dance bomba—a traditional Afro-Boricua dance. I am humbled by God's presence, every time I close my eyes to pray in the ocean. Gratitude fills my soul as I realize how big the world is, and how little my worries are. I am so connected with my spiritual side that some days I am impressed by how much I have been able to accomplish by simply looking within.
One afternoon, I was heading to my mentor’s house (for the second time), and I could not remember how to get there from the nearest train station. At the time, I did not have a cell phone, so I had no way to contact her. I decided to close my eyes and trust my spirit to guide me. I had no fears, worries, or thoughts of danger because I knew that God was my protector. I must also add that I am horrible with directions, and I always get lost, therefore I decided to trust the spirits and not myself. Connecting with the wind, I got an urge to turn on certain corners until I approached a street that felt right. As I came towards my mentor’s house, I simply smiled and looked towards the sky, because I knew that I didn't make it on my own.'
During a get-together at my friend's house, I dropped my glass in the garage. Even though I can be very clumsy, I still feel terrible about breaking things. As I apologized repeatedly, my friend assured me that it wasn't a big deal, because his mother practices Santeria, and breaking glass means you dodged bad energy or sent some bad vibes away. It was interesting because a month later, I had walked by a bruja/tarot reading shop in the market. As soon as I passed her shop, my head began to ache like I was hungover or hadn't eaten all day. I knew it was spiritual attack and when I got home, I accidently dropped the bottle of wine that I just bought from the market. Instantly the headache went away. As I mopped up the wine, I thanked God for always getting the victory.
Another time while in Ghana I visited the Elmina Castle. As soon as I entered the dungeons where the slaves were held captive, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I tried to stay strong for all my ancestors who had to endure such terrorizing injustice. After our moment of silence at “The Door of No Return”, the guide asked us to sing “Amazing Grace”. This door is very significant because it is the last door that the enslaved Africans passed through as they headed to a new world, separated from their home, and never to return.
Before the words "I once was lost but now I'm found" slipped off my tongue, my throat cracked, and tears flowed like rivers from my eyes. I could not bear to feel the spirits of all the people who suffered throughout the Transatlantic Slave Trade. I wanted to pass out, and suddenly I began to feel the support of my ancestors holding me up, letting me know that everything would be ok. Knowing that I am a descendant of people who survived such harsh treatment reminded me that I will survive and overcome anything I am faced with.
These moments are just a few of the many I experience on the daily. It’s a blessing to be able to witness and learn about embracing the living and the dead, the past and the present. It’s a beautiful life in the Caribbean, there’s nothing demonizing about it. Call it what you want, but it keeps the people going.