Sanity Clause

19 Mar

Dear friends and family,

Yesterday marked two years since I arrived in Jamaica!
And how perfect that it was a Sunday – my favorite day. Also, you’ll note, a day of religion; an ideal time to tell you about last month when a crowd of black people prayed explicitly for your safety and wellbeing.

Story time:
I was in Santa Cruz when I saw a large assembly – complete with a minivan, tent, two folding tables, a microphone, stacks of speakers, and a sizable crowd. My instinct, you’ll appreciate, is to avoid. As I was casually crossing the street to establish distance I overheard (mildly put) multiple, fanatical “Jesus” shrieks and deduced that this was a parking-lot revival of sorts. Later, after having my spirit purified, I found out that this particular Church group is semi-famous; hailing from Kingston they are featured on TV Jamaica at 7am Sunday mornings performing “Revival Hour” (ironically, 30 minutes long).

Anyhow, back to the drama. I was skirting by, as unnoticed as a bruise on a banana, when a few of my dear community members spotted me, smiled, called my name, and wildly motioned that I should come and attend this service. They seemed happy but I’ve been to Jamaican services before…5 hours later I pledged to myself that I would never have to do that again. Color me white, but I am a grownup who does not break her promises. So, from across the street, I graciously gave a friendly wave of acknowledgment and then skillfully gesticulated that I cannot come stand over there because I am, in fact, Jewish.

Did you know that miming ‘yamaka’ is not universally understood?
I couldn’t believe it either so I re-mimed with clearer articulation.
The pastor with the loudspeaker detected something was amiss – A soul that needed restoration? – and paused his sermon. I froze. The air was pregnant with curiosity and rituals. How do you hide the fact that bunnies do not lay eggs?

“Whitie!” I heard over the megaphone.
The crowd of dark-skinned Jamaicans collectively turned towards me.
I smiled. Waved. Then casually tried to shuffle away ruminating, ‘I’m brown’.

“Come! The Lord is calling! The Lord is speaking to me!”, he bellowed. The preacher re-established his groove, his voice escalating, “In the Lords name! Can I get a Hallalujah for this Whitie?”

Barring any unlikely persons with pigment deficiencies, he was talking to me. I decided to take this in stride. Why not? I’d been in (almost) this exact situation other times in Jamaica so I had practice. “The Lord! In Jesus’ name! Come!! Let us pray!”, he yearned. I faced the throng; I was in a good mood and while the preacher spouted energetic blessings into the microphone, I walked into the nucleolus. As I maneuvered, I reflected how lucky I was; a group of people was about to give me strength.

When I reached the pastor he was covered in sweat, his white shirt soaked through and his black skin glistened. Seized by the spirit myself, I shouted a few “hallalujahs” and felt him take each of my arms and thrust them into the air. With his hands on my head he convulsed into the microphone, “Jesus! Jesus! He wants me to pray for you! Give you health! Safe travels! This beautiful country! Can I get an Amen?”
I heard murmurs of ‘Amen’.
“The Lord he ask nothing of you”, he continued, still touching the spot where my yamaka might lay, “in Jesus’ name! Bless this woman! Bless her family! Her friends! Those who know her foreign and those who know her community! Bless them! Provide for them! Their travels. We ask of you Lord! Care for her!” He was on a roll. An amplified, so-loud-it-diminishes-your-experience, passionate, heart-felt roll. “Make the devil not take she! Guide her! Jesus! Jesus! We ask you! Lord! Keep evil away! Jesus!”, his eyes rolled back into his head. I grew concerned until he jumped up with new urgency and I saw that he was okay. “Say his name!”, he commanded. “Say the Lords name! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”, he burgeoned on hysterical.
I closed my eyes, serenely smiled, and sent a silent, personal prayer of gratitude to Ms. Dawkins for all those elementary school acting class. “Jesus”, I started, my smile broadened; if Rabbi Art Donsky could see me now! “Jesus! Jesus! Thank you Jesus!”, it was easy once I got going. “Jesus! Lord Jesus, thank you!”, my heart rate was elevated and I started sweating; I was into this.

The preacher took his hands off of me and spun me around in a circle. “Yes, yes”, he muttered, “God Bless” and sent me out of the spotlight. Just like that, my holy session had ended. I noticed then that the crowd had gotten larger — which made sense because, in Jamaica, the only thing ruder than pointing and staring is not pointing and staring — and I caught the eyes of my community members as we sieved towards each other.
“Mah sah! That was quite a prayer!”, Mr. Higgler pronounced. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve been sufficiently protected from all sorts of evil!”, I declared, wiping my brow. “Not to mention your friends and family”, Rocky elaborated.
Ah yes, my esteemed friends and family.

So,if you’re counted among my friends and family – and let’s assume by reading this you are – this past month you were professionally prayed for, redeemed.

With (officially) 2 years of experience and all due veneration, you’re welcome.

9 Responses to “Sanity Clause”

  1. Andrew Travis March 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I thought I felt a ‘lickl someting’ special yesterday. Thank you for sharing and praying. Can’t wait to see you home. What an experience you have had; one that will serve you well for a lifetime.

  2. Collee Skemp March 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    What a great story, Sam! Thank you for inspiring love and good wishes for us. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. ❤

    • Sammi Travis March 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Leeny!!! Happiest of HAPPY birthdays to you!!! I’ve been thinking of you all weekend! I hope it was glorious. Wonderful. Cheery! I love you so much. Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. Sorry I wasn’t a more proactive birthday wisher. You really have been on my mind. XOXO

  3. Jerry Pitts March 20, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Sammi That was the best story ever and I could relate to it so well and so beautifully written, I will miss your stories as I have missed you this last year ! email us some time and let us know how you and Nick are doing and come and see us Please ! Jerry and Kathy

  4. Darlene Klobchar March 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    I could picture every moment! Thank you for sharing. I accept all prayers and blessings from these faithfilled people! Thank you…thank you….thank you for being so courageous and alive to your calling! I am sure Jesus was smiling, too!!!

  5. Cindy Masera March 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Thank you for your blessings, protection and love. Also for your fabulous writing skills. I find your stories interesting, hurmorous and always entertaining. Love you! Mama Masera

  6. Nick March 21, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    I feel so blessed and protected and secure! Your words did a fabulous job painting this very Jamaican picture.

    Let’s paint a picture where you, me, Jerry and Kathy are the subjects on our visit to WA state 🙂


    • Jerry Pitts March 21, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      You are as welcome as the flowers in May !!! Kathy and I look forward to your arrivel !!!!

  7. cefect March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I would have gone with some circumcision gesticulations, but I can see how being from the finer sex must have influenced you. Mission accomplished regardless; although, I didn’t think women wore Yamakas.

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