Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Ekwueme: The One Who Says and Does It

I wanted to share a personal journey with you. As some may be aware, I have some health issues that have been better and worse at tImes. In the past decade, I have been to 11 different doctors or health gurus, in hopes of getting better. At my very worst, I was bedridden, covered in sores, reacting all day, exhausted, bloated with stomach pains, freezing all the time, very few things to eat, barely living life. On my better days and in better times, I have still been allergic to many things, but been able to do a lot more, exercise, be involved in activities outside the home, take care of my family. I have vacillated between the 2 extremes back and forth over the years. (More details about that journey under “My Health Journey”) I am currently working with an unconventional doctor and have improved some but since February have seen some regression. It is easy to get discouraged. Especially when you don’t have a full life to distract you.
But often as in times past, the Lord sends me messages of encouragement in different ways. Sometimes I listen to gospel music and in the mix that plays on Apple radio are included some Nigerian worship songs. The first time I heard one I was so overcome with emotion, I got on my knees, and cried. It was interspersed with English and Igbo, but enough for me to understand. At our parish we have quite a large Nigerian community, and others from different parts of Africa like Kenya. Our youngest child’s godfather is also a beloved priest in our life, from Nigeria. Back in January at our choir party, I was able to talk to one of our choir members from Nigeria, shared my interest in the music and asked her the meaning of some words. She translated them for me, shared with me the meaning of her and her children’s names, and recommended some other artists to listen to. I have since fallen in love with and listened to almost exclusively, Nigerian worship music.
At our parish we had a celebration mass in honor of Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi (a Nigerian priest and monk) because he is one of our parish patron saints due to our large Nigerian community (His feast day is January 20th). The portrait you see in this picture was done by a parishioner and hangs in the narthex. I had the privilege of attending the mass, and was not only touched by the culture beautifully displayed, but immediately felt a connection with him. It was honestly like he was looking at me smiling and saying “Now really, can you still not have faith in Him?” I have gradually been collecting a list of Igbo words to get a translation and recently asked my Nigerian priest friend to share with me the meanings. I cried when I read them. Here are a few of the words and phrases I had collected:

Chinedum mo (God leads me)

Echezokwala (Lord, Please do not forget)

Mma mma Ekele o (All Thanksgiving to you. I thank you!)

Jesus, Ome Kannaya (a replica of the father)

Chukwu neme mma (God Who brings about beauty and goodness always!)

Obata obiye (When he’s involved, things change)

Ihi nemerem ebuka (what you are doing for me is awesome)

Ibe ikwuru ga eme (whatever you say comes to pass)

Ekwueme (The one who says and does it)

Chukwu na gwom’oria le (God that heals my sickness)

Each word/phrase directly speaks to me. I particularly love how in Igbo, 1 word can mean an entire sentence. And I have had the following thoughts.

In heaven we will all understand each other and somehow, will have one universal language.

Every race, language, and person reflects 1 beautiful facet of the image of God.

God loves to surprise us, to show us he is in fact real, and is very much deep in the middle of our suffering, our mess, and our brokenness, with the promise to heal and redeem, in His timing.

I love getting to know a new brother or sister in heaven who can not only inspire me but be there to intercede for me in my needs. I will be talking to Fr. Michael much more often. And don’t be surprised if, God willing, we all make it to heaven, I am dancing and singing with my Nigerian brothers and sisters in the golden streets. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi, pray for us.

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